Starting mechanism

To make sure all chariots started simultaneously in the horse races, a mechanical starting system was constructed in the hippodrome of Olympia: ropes were fastened between the edges of the track and a bronze dolphin in the middle. When the starting sign sounded (on that moment a bronze eagle rose from an altar in the center and the dolphin dived downwards), the ropes were let down. The chariots were positioned in V-form, with the outside chariots at the back because the ropes at the outside fell first. At the moment on which the chariots close to the dolphin also started, all chariots were positioned on a single line. At that moment, the outside chariots still had the advantage of already going at top speed whereas the inside chariots had just left, but the inside chariots had the advantage of being in the best position for the turn. From which position each chariot started, was decided by lot.

© KU Leuven, 2012