Paleo-Olympics introduces students to ancient activities

Archery demonstrations at the Paleo-Olympics. Photo by David Chrenko.
Archery demonstrations at the Paleo-Olympics. Photo by David Chrenko.

Comparable to a page straight out of a Medieval history book, this year’s Paleo-Olympics offered archery, live chickens, rugby, wool spinning and much more.

The annual event, sponsored by the GVSU Archaeology Society, Classics Society, Theta History Club and Anthropology Club, took place September 18 on the Allendale Campus.

The student-run Paleo-Olympics is a compilation of events that bring together the Grand Valley community for a day of activities revolving around learning about the past.

Those in attendance were able to participate in archery demonstrations, spinning thread from raw wool, assembling pottery, Medieval rugby and many ancient games. New to this year’s Paleo-Olympics was an ancient Roman divination demonstration, which consisted of Grand Valley faculty analyzing the behavior of live chickens to determine omens about the future, as well as liver readings.

Below is a video highlighting this year's archery demonstration:

Selena Soto, a senior and anthropology major, said the event provided an opportunity to educate her fellow students about aspects of ancient societies.  

“We call ourselves ‘nerdy’ because we appreciate things like spinning, ancient games and archery, but most of these activities aren’t even ancient. They are still applicable today. Introducing others to these activities and helping them realize that everything is still connected is a good feeling,” Soto said.

Peter Anderson, Classics Department chair, said the event provides an invaluable learning experience outside of the traditional classroom.

“Students who are studying these topics get to figure out how to present and explain their topics of interest to other students,” Anderson said. “Faculty has almost no involvement in planning these events, so it’s a really big moment for the students who put this all together.”


Sign up and receive the latest Grand Valley headlines delivered to your email inbox each morning.