Throughout Olympic Summer 2004 Varna's Archaeological Museum dedicates an exhibition on the role of sport in the ancient Odessos.
Sport was an essential part of life in the ancient city of Odessosу, modern Varna. Founded by the greeks around 600 BC, one of the city's important institutions was the Gymnasium (a school for youths up to the age of 21). In such schools athletic sports were a core part of education.
Odessos has always had a strong sporting tradition. Escavated tombs dated at 400-200 BC contain metal tools used to scrape the skin after training and competition. Such artifacts point to the importance that sport and physical education had for the inhabitants of the city.
The sporting tradition remained in place during Roman times. Roman tombs from 1 to 3 century are known to contain glass jars with scented oils used for cleaning after competitions.
Throughout the modern city of Varna there are remnants of Roman activity. An imperatorial complex spreads over 7000 sq.m. and is thought to have housed daily sporting events. The main hall of the complex is large enough to have allowed indoor activities. Lifting weights and other sports equipment has been recovered. Gymnasiums of those times had engraved the names of its members on stone plaques, also depicting the sports activities of the time - wrestling, boxing, running.
Apollo and Heracles were the greek patron gods of the sport games. Apollo is often depicted with a lira, suggesting that music and poetry were also a major part of education in such Gymnasiums. Regular sports festivals in Odessos lasted several days, and the best performers' names were engraved in the stone records of the city, where they are still evident today.
The full collection of artifacts is on display throughout the summer at the Archaeological Museum Varna.