Stadium Starting Block, Nemea, Greece

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published on 09 May 2012

The starting line or 'balbis' consisted of 12 lanes with posts held in vertical sockets between which a catapult mechanism or 'hysplex' of tensed rope would prevent any athlete from false starting. A judge would simultaneously release the rope blocking the athletes. The rope or twisted sinews were at two heights (knee and waist); when released they would lie flat on the ground between the first footfalls of the athletes. Therefore, if an athlete tripped, they would have started too early. The double lines in the stone blocks were for athletes to place their toes in to ensure all started equally. A statue would have stood at either end of the balbis. 330-320 BCE.


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