Dave Lunt

Department Chair, Associate Professor of History


History expert, specializing in ancient Greece, ancient Greek athletics, and the history of the olympic games



Dr. Dave Lunt is an associate professor of history at Southern Utah University. His research focuses on the history of athletics in ancient Greece and his published articles include articles on the role of sports in ancient Greek, the campaigns of Alexander the Great and the myth of Prometheus.

Fluent in both Latin and Greek, Dr. Lunt enjoys infusing his classes with culture, history and a sense of wonder for the ancient world. His research has taken him all over Greece and Italy focusing on how ancient and modern athletics reflect and interact with society, religion, culture, social issues, politics, and mythology.

A native of Salt Lake City, Dr. Lunt earned both his bachelor degree and master degree in history from the University of Utah. He earned his Ph.D. in ancient history from Penn State University.


4 min

2018 Olympic Winter Games - A Brief History

Starting this week, the world will look to PyeongChang, in the Republic of Korea, for the XXIII Olympic Winter Games. PyeongChang’s vision for the Games is to offer the Olympic Movement and the world of winter sports New Horizons a legacy of growth and potential never seen before. According to the Olympic Games, PyeongChang’s plan is one of the most compact in Olympic history, offering a unique stage on which the world’s best athletes can achieve superior performances.This will be South Korea’s second time hosting the Olympic Games, but it’s first Winter Games. The city won the bid to host after one round of voting, having more votes than both Munich, Germany and Annecy France combined.Held in Chamonix, France in 1924, the first Olympic Winter Games consisted of five original sports, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, Nordic skiing and skating. Dr. David Lunt, Professor of History at Southern Utah University and expert on athletics in ancient Greece, says the first games were intended to be a ‘week of winter sports’ connected to the regular Olympic festival to be held later that year in Paris.“Although Great Britain’s representative to the International Olympic Committee wanted soccer (football) to be included as a ‘winter sport’, to be held before the hot days of summer, the program was confined largely to events on snow and ice.” The Games have grown since the early days, the 2018 Winter Games will feature 102 events with 15 sports represented, more than any other previous Winter Games and the first to surpass 100 medal events. Dr. Lunt agrees that the Winter Olympics are growing more popular and more equal for athletes, but they are still quite small compared to the Summer Games.“At the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, 88 countries sent a total of 2,876 athletes, of which 40% were women. In contrast, more than 11,000 athletes from 207 countries and one “refugee team”, competed in Rio de Janeiro in 2016’s Summer Games. Of these 11,000 athletes, approximately 45% were women.”Though women were not traditionally allowed to play in the Olympic Games (beginning in 1896), women have always competed in the Winter Games (beginning in 1900). Even today there are fewer women than men involved in the Games, but the percentage is evening.With the Olympic Agenda 2020, adopted in December 2014, the International Olympic Committee made a important milestone. Recommendation 11, to Foster Gender Equality, states “the IOC to work with the International Federations to achieve 50 percent female participation in the Olympic Games and to stimulate women’s participation and involvement in sport by creating more participation opportunities at the Olympic Games.”Dr. Lunt also notes that while the Winter Games are enjoyed by many, fewer cities seem willing to undertake the expense and planning required. Hosting the Games is a major undertaking, strain on infrastructure, security risks, and the total cost of the Games can make cities hesitant to bid.“In 2015, Beijing, China beat out Almaty, Kazakhstan for the 2022 Winter Games only after other contending cities in Sweden, Norway, Poland, and Ukraine voluntarily withdrew their bids.”“Originally set to host city the 1976 Olympic Winter Games, Denver reneged on its bid to host the Games in November, 1972, amid economic and environmental concerns, not to mention the realization that Denver itself typically does not receive much snow in February. In fact, for its presentation to the International Olympic Committee, Denver’s bid representatives painted snow onto pictures of Denver in order to make the city appear more suitable to host the Games.”While those local to Utah remember Salt Lake City hosting the 2002 Olympic Winter Games after winning the bid in 1995, Dr. Lunt shares a little known fact “Salt Lake City was a finalist to host both the 1972 and 1998 Winter Games and also bid to host the 1976 Winter Games – twice – before and after they were awarded to Denver.”As the Games continue to grow and adapt to new participants and sports they are also building partnerships around the world. There are currently 206 National Olympic Committees, spread over five continents, working to develop and promote the Olympic principles at a national level in their countries.In the next 10 years alone the Olympic Games will take viewers to Tokyo, Beijing, Paris and Los Angeles.Dr. Lunt’s research has taken him all over Greece and Italy focusing on how ancient and modern athletics reflect and interact with society, religion, and culture. He is familiar with the media and available for an interview. Simply visit his profile.

Dave Lunt


Industry Expertise

Writing and Editing

Areas of Expertise

American History
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greek Athletes
Classical Studies
History of Athletics
History of the Olympic Games
Olympic studies
Politics in Ancient Greece
Sports and Religion
Sports History
Sports in Ancient Greece
Sports in Society


University of Utah



University of Utah



Penn State University


Ancient History


Distinguished Educator Award

Southern Utah University, 2018


  • Society for Classical Studies
  • Archaeological Institute of America
  • North American Society for Sport History


  • Latin
  • Greek

Media Appearances

5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Ancient Olympics

Fox 13  online


Dr. Dave Lunt, an assistant history professor at Southern Utah University, has spent more than 16 years studying Greek history and offered five insights on what you don’t know about the ancient Olympics.

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Apostle vacancies could mean shift in LDS leadership

The Spectrum  


Dave Lunt, an assistant professor of history at Southern Utah University, has studied LDS cultural identity and the forces that shape it. He describes the 25 percent vacancy in the quorum as “monumental.” If the new apostles truly are younger than the current members — Elder David A. Bednar is the youngest at 63 — they could have similar cultural influences that have shaped their worldview somewhat differently than their senior colleagues, Lunt says...

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Two Studies in the History of Ancient Greek Athletics. Scientia Danica. Series H, Humanistica 8, 16

Bryn Mawr Classical Review  print

Thomas Heine Nielsen’s recent contribution to the study of ancient Greek athletics is a welcome addition to the field of ancient athletic contests and festivals. This book is exactly what it claims to be—two independent studies focused on a pair of carefully circumscribed questions about archaic and classical Greek athletics. Since Nielsen splits the two questions into separate studies, this review will examine each independently.

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Sanctioned Violence: Dealing (with) Death in Ancient Greek Athletics



In ancient Greek society, the killing of an athlete in a combat sport during athletic competition presented a problematic situation. On the one hand, an unnatural death required legal inquiries and proceedings to assess blame and damages, and to ward off religious pollution, or miasma. On the other, athletes who demonstrated such a degree of power and might that they could kill an opponent with their bare hands deserved recognition and acclamation as successors to the heroic tradition. This legal quandary epitomizes the tension in Classical Greece between the individual as aspirant to heroic status, and the individual as adherent to the norms that sustained the community. In an effort to negotiate this predicament, ancient Athenian laws specifically addressed involuntary athletic manslaughter, and Panhellenic judges employed legalistic technicalities to disqualify powerful but murderous athletes from receiving the fruits of their victories.

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The heroic athlete in ancient Greece

Journal of Sport History


In ancient Greece, powerful and successful athletes sought after and displayed might and arete (excellence) in the hope of attaining a final component of divinity—immortality. These athletes looked to the heroes of Greek myth as models for their own quests for glory and immortality. The most attractive heroic model for a powerful athlete was Herakles. Milo of Croton, a famed wrestler from antiquity, styled himself after Herakles and imitated him in battle. In addition, three athletes from the fifth century B.C., Theagenes, Euthymos, and Kleomedes, made the transition, in Greek minds, from athlete to hero. The power, might, and arete of their athletic victories provided the justification for their subsequent heroization. The stories of these athletes shed light on how historical athletes sought to imitate their mythic predecessors and how ancient Greeks were willing to bestow heroic honors, such as religious cults, on powerful victorious athletes.

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Mormons and the Olympics: constructing an Olympic identity

The International Journal of Olympic Studies


Since the early twentieth century, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise called the LDS or Mormon church, has attempted to integrate itself more fully into American culture while maintaining its traditional morality and exclusive beliefs. During the 1980s and 1990s, the LDS church constructed an Olympic identity by highlighting the achievements of Mormon Olympic athletes, touting them as examples of religious piety who enjoyed athletic success because of their adherence to specifically Mormon doctrines, particularly Mormon dietary laws. Paradoxically, the LDS church simultaneously sought to demonstrate mainstream religious attitudes and to downplay its differences with other American religions by associating itself with the patriotism and national pride related to hosting the Olympic Games. The LDS church capitalized on its associations with the bidding for and planning of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games to foster and cultivate an appealing and reputable public image.

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HIST 1100 Western Civilization I

This course examines the political, social (including gender roles) and intellectual history of Western society from the urban revolution in Mesopotamia to the later Middle Ages. Special emphasis is placed on the reading and analysis of primary historical sources

HIST 1110 Western Civilization II

This is an introductory survey course in the history of Western Civilization. This course acquaints students with some of the general interpretations of European and world history from the Age of Absolutism to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

HIST 1500 World History to 1500 C.E.

This survey examines the political, social, cultural, economic, religious, scientific, and intellectual influences on the development of world civilizations to 1500 C.E. The emphasis is global, comparative, and multicultural

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