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Winter Olympics Technology

Historian Yohuru Williams dives into the history of the Olympic Games.

Article Details:

The Olympic Games Staff

The Olympic Games

July 19, 2018

A+E Networks

The Olympic Games, which originated in ancient Greece as many as 3,000 years ago, were revived in the late 19th century and have become the world’s preeminent sporting competition. From the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D., the Games were held every four years in Olympia, located in the western Peloponnese peninsula, in honor of the god Zeus. The first modern Olympics took place in 1896 in Athens, and featured 280 participants from 13 nations, competing in 43 events. Since 1994, the Summer and Winter Olympic Games have been held separately and have alternated every two years.

Bobsled Tech 3min
Winter Olympics Technology 2min
Forgotten Games 4min

The first written records of the ancient Olympic Games date to 776 B.C., when a cook named Coroebus won the only event–a 192-meter footrace called the stade (the origin of the modern “stadium”)–to become the first Olympic champion. However, it is generally believed that the Games had been going on for many years by that time. Legend has it that Heracles (the Roman Hercules ), son of Zeus and the mortal woman Alcmene, founded the Games, which by the end of the 6th century B.C had become the most famous of all Greek sporting festivals. The ancient Olympics were held every four years between August 6 and September 19 during a religious festival honoring Zeus. The Games were named for their location at Olympia, a sacred site located near the western coast of the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece. Their influence was so great that ancient historians began to measure time by the four-year increments in between Olympic Games, which were known as Olympiads.

After 13 Olympiads, two more races joined the stade as Olympic events: the diaulos (roughly equal to today’s 400-meter race), and the dolichos (a longer-distance race, possibly comparable to the 1,500-meter or 5,000-meter event). The pentathlon (consisting of five events: a foot race, a long jump, discus and javelin throws and a wrestling match) was introduced in 708 B.C., boxing in 688 B.C. and chariot racing in 680 B.C. In 648 B.C., pankration, a combination of boxing and wrestling with virtually no rules, debuted as an Olympic event. Participation in the ancient Olympic Games was initially limited to freeborn male citizens of Greece; there were no women’s events, and married women were prohibited from attending the competition.

The 1896 Games featured the first Olympic marathon, which followed the 25-mile route run by the Greek soldier who brought news of a victory over the Persians from Marathon to Athens in 490 B.C. Fittingly, Greece's Spyridon Louis won the first gold medal in the event. In 1924, the distance would be standardized to 26 miles and 385 yards.

‘A Giant to Those Who Know’: David Zwirner to Represent Estate of Photographer Roy DeCarava

Market The Talent
By Andy Battaglia Posted
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Roy DeCarava’s , 1949.

David Zwirner has taken on worldwide representation for the estate of photographer Roy DeCarava, whose moody and diffuse black-and-white images tell bountiful stories of life in New York beginning in the 1940s and up through the decades before the artist’s death in 2009, at the age of 89. This fall, David Zwirner Books will help distribute a reissue of The Sweet Flypaper of Life , a 1955 book of photos and text thatDeCarava made in collaboration with the poet Langston Hughes, and next year the gallery will stage a show of DeCarava’s work in New York around the occasion of the centennial of his birth.

Roy DeCarava’s , 1953.

Zwirner said his relationship with DeCarava’s oeuvre began last year after a revelation in England. “I was in London and went to Tate to see ‘Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,’ ” a traveling exhibition recently closed at the Crystal Bridges of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, that opens this fall at the Brooklyn Museum. “A lot of the artists I knew, but then I walked into a small gallery where I saw all this black-and-white photography, and I was floored by the power of Roy’s images. I couldn’t believe I didn’t know the work, so I went on an investigation,” he said.

His curiosity led toSherry Turner DeCarava—Roy’s wife and longtime collaborator who had been working to maintain his legacy—as well as artists for whom DeCarava is a touchstone. “The world of renowned African-American photographers is relatively small when you look at the ’50, ’60s, and ’70s, and Roy’s career is a classic case,” Zwirner said. “It was tougher for African-American artists to be heard in those years than it is today, and that’s one of the reasons we don’t know the work more. If you talk to people in the black community, he is really a benchmark of art-making in the 20th century. He’s a giant to those who know the work, and I think he’ll be a real discovery for those, like myself, who didn’t know.”

Roy DeCarava’s .

Among the DeCarava fans Zwirner cited are Kerry James Marshall, who’s on his gallery’s roster; Thelma Golden, the director of the Studio Museum in Harlem; and Kahlil Joseph, who paid tribute to the photographer in his film Fly Paper , shown at the New Museum last fall.

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