Even in antiquity it was debated when and why the Olympic Games had been established and by whom. Modern scholarship has also advanced a great number of hypotheses on the origins of the games (ranging from funeral games to harvest ceremonies/vegetation magic or even initiation rites), but a truly convincing reconstruction has not yet been formulated.
The present volume off ers a new comprehensive explanation for the phenomenon and argues that the Games evolved from hunting and from animal ceremonialism observed among various hunting groups. This explanation is admittedly a hypothetical one, based mainly on the interpretation of the archaeological material and some ethnographic parallels, but conjecture is necessary due to the complete absence of contemporary written evidence. In addition, although it is essentially a simple theory that simultaneously explains many perplexing features of the Games in a coherent way, it must remain without definitive proof, as with all other previous similar explanations. “Anyone who takes issue is allowed a simple remedy: to off er something better, something that is coherent and constructive as an alternative.”