Annual Paleo-Olympics feature medieval armor, pottery reassembling

By Taylor Crowley | 9/17/17 9:23pm

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GVL / Luke Holmes - Students play a game with a ball. The Paleo-Olympics were held in the KC West Lawn on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016.

For the the ninth time, the Paleo-Olympics were held at Grand Valley State University Friday, Sept. 15. The annual event showcased medieval armor, a reenactment of medieval battle, hieroglyphics and pottery reassembling, all with the goal of bringing the past to the present. 

The Classics Society, Archaeology Society and Theta History Club all collaborated on the event, as well as people who are not affiliated with GVSU.

”Professors from different departments and people from outside the university, who all have different specialties, come in and work on an event that can illuminate lots of aspects of the past,” said Sydney Strablow, president of the Classics Society. “We try to have it so that there’s something here for everyone.” 

Strablow took part in planning this event and said she was pleased with the turnout this year.  

“Students realize there’s a part of history or a discipline that they may not be familiar with that they really can enjoy and get into,” Strablow said. “This can be a gateway into an interest that people think they wouldn’t have.” 

Students from all different majors showed up to the event, and most students took pictures of their friends putting the medieval armor on, which is about 92 pounds of heavy leather and steel when fully geared up. 

GVL / Luke Holmes - Students decorated plates to be Roman shields.The Paleo-Olympics were held in the KC West Lawn on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016.

The students were also able to decorate cookies with hieroglyphics. In addition, there was a station for pottery reassembling to demonstrate one part of an archaeologist’s job. The putting together of broken pieces resembles what archaeologists do when they find new artifacts on a dig. 

“I think this is a perfect representation of what it is like to be out there digging, the hot sun beating down on them while they try to put the pieces back together," said Melissa Morison, associate professor in the Department of Classics at GVSU and coordinator of the event. 

The weather reached about 80 degrees, but the students still stayed and enjoyed the event. A student even volunteered to put all 92 pounds of armor on and agreed to let GVSU alumnus and historian Jared Yax take a swing at him with a sword.

Yax created the medieval armor himself. He said it took him more than two years to put it all together. He thinks showing this armor to the students makes it stick more in their minds, leaving a longer-lasting impression.

For the students who attended, that may have been the case. Some attendees of the event said their favorite part of the day was watching the armor demonstration.

“Getting called over to watch a student put on the armor was really cool,” said Katie Fisher, a GVSU sophomore. “Ultimately, my favorite part was watching a student from our school get hit with a sword—and obviously not getting hurt—but it was still really cool.”  

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