Published May 12, 2020

SOFIA Students Dive Deep into Ancient Greek Athletics

Three new students, a student mentor and a professor spent part of their 2019 summer Inside Ancient Greek Athletics.
  • From left: Ditza Montesinos ’23, Olivia Matlock ’22, Reed Bona ’23 and Dylan Prentiss ’23 collaborated on the SOFIA project “Inside Ancient Greek Athletics.”
  • SOFIA students get metalworking gear from art professor Stacy Lotz, far right.
  • SOFIA students perfect their javelin form.
  • Dylan Prentiss ’23, from left, Reed Bona ’23, Ditza Montesinos ’23 and Olivia Matlock '22 present findings from their SOFIA project, “Inside Ancient Greek Athletics”
  • Olivia Matlock ’22, Ditza Montesinos ’23, Dylan Prentiss ’23 and Reed Bona ’23 discuss their findings from their SOFIA project, “Inside Ancient Greek Athletics.”

In August 2019, a group of students did some serious playing in “Inside Greek Athletics” while attempting to get inside the minds of people thousands of years ago and thousands of miles away. The project was part of the College’s annual Summer Opportunities for Intellectual Activities, an innovative three-week program that allows select new and returning students to conduct in-depth research and inquiry with Monmouth faculty before the start of the school year.

Under the direction of classics professor Robert Simmons and student mentor Olivia Matlock ’22, three new students – Reed Bona ’23, Ditza Montesinos ’23 and Dylan Prentiss ’23 – worked on a research project titled “Inside Ancient Greek Athletics.” 

Much of contemporary athletic competition and training can trace its origins to ancient Greece,” Simmons said. “But, as one might imagine, there have been just a few changes in the way athletics has been carried out over the past few thousand years.

In their SOFIA project, the students:

  • attempted to understand all manner of details of Greek sports by looking at the records we have of them—some visual, some textual, and many of them fragmentary;
  • studied other scholars’ efforts to recreate Greek sports to see which mysteries have already been solved to some extent, and which ones remain;
  • expedited their efforts by physically doing the Greek sports as consistently with ancient portrayals as possible, and documenting their efforts as scientifically as they could;
  • used all sorts of implements that were part of those Greek sports, of which Monmouth has a large collection;
  • and constructed other implements they needed to make in order to recreate the sports as authentically as possible.

The students also made metal javelin tips and discuses via a high-temperature forge that they created – though not 100 percent successful, they learned much about ancient metal-working.

Back to Classics

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