Top 10 Sports of the Ancient Civilization

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The ancient world is so much different from the modern world, especially when it comes to sports. Yes, sports were a form of entertainment both in the past and present. The only difference is that modern sports end in camaraderie and sportsmanship, while ancient sports tend to be catastrophic and are oftentimes, deadly. Here are the top ten sports enjoyed by so many in the past.

1. Pitz

Pitts is one of the oldest sport in ancient history. It was invented by the Mayans around 2500 B.C. It resembles the game of racquetball, where the ball has to be kept in play. The players hit the ball with their hips. The game was usually played to settle disputes between two warring enemy clans, without resorting to carnage.

The captains or the kings of the team that has lost will usually be decapitated.

2. Harpastum

also known as harpustum, was a form of ball game played in the Roman Empire. The Romans also referred to it as the small ball game.

The ball used was small and hard, probably about the size and solidity of a softball.

3. Fisherman jousting

It was around 2700 B.C when this game first started among fishermen of neighboring villages. This was usually played to put an end to conflicts and rivalries between different villages. The game requires two teams of fishermen on boats. They would try to knock off each other by using hands, poles, and feet.

This game is quite dangerous because of the possibility of drowning and being eaten alive by underwater predators.

4. Buzkashi

Buzkashi originated in Central Asia and is played by dragging a goat or calf carcass toward the goal. It consists of two forms, the Tudabarai and the Qarajai. Tudabarai is the simplest form as it only requires the player to drag the carcass in any direction.

The Qarajai, on the other hand, requires the player to carry the carcass around a flag and throw it into the “Circle of Justice”, which is a scoring circle that is located at the other end of the field.

5. Pankration

Pankration was first introduced in the Greek Olympic Games in 648 B.C. It was a sporting event described as a mix of boxing and wrestling techniques. It does not have any rules, although gouging of the eyes and biting the opponent is permitted.

The concept of the game is to beat the opponent, without causing death. This used to be Afghanistan’s national sport until it was banned during the Taliban regime.

6. Venatio

Venatio was a Roman entertainment that involved hunting and killing wild animals. The hunter of these wild animals is called a bestarius. Among the many wild animals, the most common ones displayed during a venatio are lions, bears, deers, and elephants. A few only survived, while other animals were able to kill the bestarius.

The venatio is usually held at the Roman Forum, the Saepta, or the Circus Maximus. Special preparations are made in each venue to ensure that the animals do not escape.

7. Gladiatorial combat

Gladiatorial combat or games were a form of entertainment for the Romans of long ago. Gladiators have usually condemned criminals, slaves, or volunteers who were willing to risk their lives. The games were so popular that they lasted for a thousand years.

It eventually declined during the 5th century because of the adoption of Christianity by the Roman Empire.

8. Naumachia

Naumachia is a naval battle in ancient Rome. This was usually done as a form of entertainment for the Romans. Julius Caesar gave the first-ever naval battle. He had a basin dug near the Tiber, which will serve as the body of water on which the vessels will float on.

He had 2000 players and about 4000 rowers, fight against each other. These players have been prisoners who were condemned to death.

9. Hurling

This game is of Gaelic and Irish origin. It consists of 15 players or hurlers. The players use a hurley, which is a short wooden stick that is about 24 to 36 inches long, to hit a small ball that is called a sliotar. The sliotar has a cork center and a leather cover that is about 69-72 mm and weighs 110 grams. The goal is to hit the opponent’s goalposts over or under the crossbar straight to a net that is kept guarded by the goalkeeper.

Hurling is not only popular in Ireland but in other parts of the world too, including North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and even South Korea.

10. Chunkey

Chunkey is also called the hoop and stick game. The game is played by rolling stones that are disc-shaped on the ground. Next, spears are thrown in an attempt to place the spear as close to the stone as possible. Gambling was usually associated with the game. Some players even bet on everything they have.

This game is a dangerous one because losing usually means losing their heads as well.

Thankfully, the modern world is through with these archaic sports. Now, people enjoy pure fun and entertainment with the sports of today’s generation.

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