Granted! Ancient Olympics Hands-On

In mid-August, the National Endowment for the Humanities (a national granting agency in the USA) released its 2024 grant recipients, and one of those names may seem familiar to EXARC members. Nathalie Roy (Glasgow Middle School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA), an EXARC member, and a teaching associate Bob Holschuh Simmons applied for and received NEH funding for a two-week K-12 summer institute to be held in July of 2024. (K-12 includes children aged 5 to 18.) Teacher participants in "The Ancient Olympics and Daily Life in Ancient Olympia: A Hands-On History" will interact with ancient texts (in translation) by Pausanias, Pindar, Philostratos, and Vitruvius. They will immerse themselves in the ancient Olympic sporting events through the eyes of the athletes but also those who came from far and wide to work at and enjoy the games at the sacred town of Olympia: merchants, food vendors, craftspeople, family members, and future athletes. Hands-on history allows participants to explore the lives of ancient people whose voices often go unheard in textual evidence from classical antiquity. 

Bob Holschuh Simmons started recreating Olympic events in Greek Civilization classes and in the first incarnation of his Classics Day at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (USA) in 2011, and it has become a staple of Sports in Greece and Rome classes and Classics Days at Monmouth College since 2014. He has done interactive Olympic demonstrations with Monmouth students twice at Illinois Junior Classical League meetings and has offered workshops on carrying out the ancient Olympics at the annual meetings of many classical organizations.

Nathalie Roy has been teaching hands-on history through her Roman Technology class for years. Her students recreate the products and processes of ancient daily life through STEM labs and experimental archaeology. Most recently, they built a 160-foot sidewalk in the style of a Roman road through the school campus, but they have also built sundials and pottery kilns in addition to recreating Roman hairstyles and makeup recipes, mixing, and setting concrete, and gathering oak galls to make ink. Nathalie presented her work on the Roman Road Project at the most recent annual meeting of EXARC.

Nathalie and Bob will be joined by many other experts during the two-week program that will center hands-on history. One of the best things about NEH is that it offers stipends to teachers for summer institutes. All participants will receive $2,200 to offset the cost of travel, room, board, and supplies.

More information about this institute, including how to apply, will become available in early December.