EXHIBITS > The sport technology of the ancient Greeks >
It was a starting mechanism used in ancient Greece during the Olympics and other athletic competitions in order to prevent the false start of the athletes.
It consisted of two vertical stakes fixed to the starting line, bearing two horizontal ropes (one at the height of the knees and the other at the height of the athletes' abdomen).
When the starter pulled the rope that released the stakes, they fell with momentum on the ground (because of the force of the twisted string at the base) thus permitting the start of the race.
The design and reconstruction of a lightweight, portable mechanism was chosen, which can operate: a) with the use of ring latches – according to the standards of the Nemean Hysplex (in this case, the starter yanked the rope upwards in order to release the rings and caused the fall of the stakes), b) with the use of hasp-bars, which applied well-known technical know-how of the siege-machines at the time (in this case, the starter pulled the rope gently in order to unhasp the stakes and cause their fall). It is speculated that this mechanism was used in Ancient Olympia, not only at the Stadium but also during training at the Gymnasium.
SOURCES: "Hysplex: The starting mechanism in ancient stadia, P. Valananis"