Height: 11.400 cm
GR 1876.5-10.1 (Bronze 208)
Room 13: Greece 1050-520 BC
Bronze figure of a running girl
Greek, about 520-500 BC
Found at Prizren, Serbia; possibly made in or near Sparta, Greece
Raised in the Spartan athletic tradition?
Athletes in the Greek world were mostly male, and a running girl is therefore a rarity. However, ancient Sparta had a tough tradition which included the expectation that girls too would take part in athletic contests. Pausanias (AD 143-176), author of Periegesis Hellados ('Description of Greece'), tells us that girls ran in the Heraia: the games held at Olympia in honour of the goddess Hera. Though separate from the Olympic Games, these games also took place at four-yearly intervals. The contestants are described as wearing a short tunic like the one worn by this bronze figurine. We therefore have some evidence for girl runners in Greece, giving a background for the production of a figure such as this.
The bronze rivet surviving in the right foot perhaps suggests that this figure was originally a decorative fixture attached to a vessel or utensil.
J. Swaddling, The ancient Olympic Games, 3rd edition (London, The British Museum Press, 2004)