Ancient Javelin Throwers Would Kick Ass at Today’s Olympic Games


We like to think that humanity has made a lot of progress in the last few hundred years when it comes to sport, as we’ve already shown though, ancient people weren’t slouches when it came to kickin’ ass. For example consider that ancient javelin throwers would pretty much wipe the floor with most of our modern Olympians.

As mentioned in the image above, the current javelin world record stands at, 98.48 metres, not mentioned is the fact it was thrown by Jan Železný because we ran out of space.

Though very little is known about the ancient Olympic javelin throw, historians have been able to piece together a reasonably amount of information about it by thinking outside the box and then throwing javelins over it. One of the best places for information is in Publius Papinius Statius’ epic poem, The Thebaid, in which he states that a chariot course is “four times a javelin throw“. Using some basic maths and what we know about the ancient world it’s actually possible to work out what an average javelin throw was.

Now the standard length of a stadium or hippodrome from back then was 366 metres, considering The Thebaid states that a stadium was four times the length of a javelin throw, it’s reasonable to assume that the average throw of the era was roughly a distance of around 91.5 metres. Though javelins back then were lighter, hence would be thrown much further with less effort, it’s also necessary to point out that athletes competed without specilized equipment (in fact they usually competed nude) and they were given only a few steps to throw rather than a huge run up like today’s athletes. All in all, we think we’ll call it a draw since lighter javelins don’t make that much of a difference when you have to run with your dong out.

This means that the average distance an ancient athlete and by extension the average foot soldier could throw a javelin was on the upper end of what the very best athletes today can manage, we’ve no idea what the best athletes back then could manage since we’re assuming their javelins are still in orbit somewhere. Safe to say, given the same training and equipment as a modern athletes, old timey athletes would probably be able to circumcise a fly at 200 yards with no problem.