Olympia, Maps and Mules

I said at the end of the last post that sometimes gems fall out of the most obscure research. I had an example of that yesterday.

I've been working out my map of Olympia for the target date. In doing the map I came across a delightful little factoid which has given me a precise method for a murder. No, I'm not going to tell you what it is. You'll have to wait for the book.

I did the map by taking the very good one on Wikipedia and deleting everything later than 460. Olympia maps almost always date to Roman Empire times. I had to remove the Roman and Hellenistic bits, which was easy, and then for each Classical building get its construction date and remove anything not up yet, which was a surprising number. It was a whole lot easier than doing the same thing for the Athenian Agora, which I had to do a few years ago and was a hellish exercise.

I now have something which I think is probably quite accurate for my date.

The precise location of the hippodrome (horse racing) is lost because the hippodrome was washed away in mediaeval times, but the general location is known so there are no problems.

You probably know the ancient Olympics included chariot races, but did you know there were 14 Olympiads in which they had mule racing? Two mules were hitched to a small chariot and off they went.

One of those Olympiads was the 80th. I absolutely promise you, there's going to be an Olympic mule race in this book.

And no, if you're trying to connect the two subjects of this post, no one is going to be trampled to death by stampeding mules.

I know the ancient sports don't always translate well, but really, we need mule racing in the modern Games. The thought of seeing all those mules dressed in their national colours, jostling at the start line, eager to bolt at the sound of the gun, the steely-eyed drivers in their small chariots gripping the reins...frankly, it'd be a highlight and totally in line with the spirit of the Games. Some things just get better with age.


Mimzy said...

We need *many* of the Olympic sports back in the games. Mule racing would be hilarious, so we do need that one back, but I would also like to promote the idea of bringing back the traditional garb of athletes: Nothing.

Downside: You could tell at a glance which ones are taking steroids.

Upside: Attendance of women (and gay men) would skyrocket.

Of course, this only needs to be done for the ancient sports. I'd be willing to meet the Olympic committee and accept that only running and wrestling events would be done the traditional way as well. It just needs to come back!

Gary Corby said...

I'm totally with you on the naked thing. It would also stop all those swimmers using hi-tech suits to get better times.

Of course, the rule would have to apply to women too, just to be fair.

While we're on the subject...the fencing. It's just too soft the way it is, they need to use proper swords. It would give a whole new meaning to the term sudden death competition.