Top 11 Famous Sports of Ancient World

“ Geist of Ancestral ”

Sports: the way to gain; the way to relieve pain; the way to entertain. Yes, we all love sports. It doesn’t matter if we are skilled or not in sports. We all adore it. But have anyone of us think about the history of most famous ancient sports? This is the time to cognise. Before that, we all have to know two simple facts. What is a sport, and what are they for?

According to ‘Australian Sports Commission’, – a human activity capable of achieving a result requiring physical exertion and physical skill, which, by its nature and organization, is competitive and is generally accepted as being a sport. Sports teach you teamwork. It helps you achieve goals. As well as sports boost self – esteem. Playing a sport cuts down on pressure and stress!!

Not only that, do you know that most of the athletes do better academically? Well, now we are outgoing with sports. So it is a must to know its past, isn’t it? Here we go.

Beginning of the sports is dated back to the prehistoric age. In Palaeolithic and Neolithic ages, there have been found a number of cave paintings depicting sports, especially in France, Libya, Japan and Mongolia. There are evidences proving that there were very famous and popular sports in ancient Greece, Sumer and Egypt and so on.

Aren’t you curious? I know you are. Well then let’s see what they are. Here we have found top 11 famous sports in ancient world. Putting to the touch one by one would be nice.

11 Defeated? Then Die. : Chunkey

famous ancient sports

Let’s say this is a sport between life and death. If you lose, you should commit suicide.

Chunkey was played by Native Americans. It was developed by the Mississippian culture and cantered around the ancient city of Cahokia. In this sport, there are two teams and a small stone disk was rolled from the starting point.

The opposite team would throw spears at the area at which they thought the disk would end up. This ancient sport was taken so seriously and believed to have played a major role in joining the different tribes together. Each tribe had unique rules, but the spirit of the game was the same.

10 Go to Crocodiles: Fisherman Jousting

famous ancient sports Fisherman Jousting

Fisherman Jousting was an Egyptian sport which was played among poor and lower class fishermen of the Nile River, and was exactly what is sounds like. Two teams of boatmen would square off, utilizing their hands or feet to knock the other team off balance and send them careening into the water. Just think, they would hop inside their fishing boats, row out into the Nile and beat the opposite. If you died, you lost.

This was a very violent sport which often ended in deaths of so many participants. Most of them could not swim those days, and they drowned simply due to not knowing how to swim. The most terrible thing was, hippos and crocodiles roamed the water, ready to maim the participants.

Some believe there could be a religious aspect of this sport as same as other games, because competing boats were filled with offerings. The boatmen appear to be racing to be the first to honour the gods, with combat coming into play during a close race.

9 All Powers: Pankration

famous ancient sports Fisherman Jousting

The meaning of Pankration is ‘all powers’. This ancient Greek sport was a mixture of boxing, kicking and wrestling. Remember, though you are playing with your ‘all poers’ do not bite; and do not gouge out your opponents eyes. The fight lasts until one fighter was coerced into giving up or died. But do you think they gave up? No, they choose dying as a hero.

After winning one fighter, that is not the end of the sport. Winner would then be paired off to fight another. This would continue until just two fighters were left. Both of them would be paired off and the winner would be named the champion.

Who will go to die or kill someone? Do you think so? Believe me, some competitions known to have been thousands of entrants. Fights occurred for days!

8 His Life or Money at Stake? : Pato

famous ancient sports Fisherman Jousting

In Argentinean culture, Pato is the official sport. This is also known as horse ball and an eclectic mix of Polo and Basketball. What a relief! This is not fatal as others you read above. Hey, do not hurry to judge, throughout its history, the sport has been banned numerous times, mostly due to the increasing violence which often resulted in the deaths of many of its participants.

Yes, this is a violence sport; riders would often attack each other in order to win, often because a large amount of money was at stake.

After banned, up until 20th century, it remained underground, until rule changes made it much safer to play.

7 Humans vs. Animals: Venatio

famous ancient sports Venatio

In Rome, Venatio was the most popular sport in Colosseum. This is a fight between a human and an animal. Over ten thousand beasts were pitted against humans and kills. Do you know that the humans met a similar fate many times? Imagine that you have to fight with a beast such as a lion or a bear without any weapon? Not only that, they were starved beasts!

6 Regardless of Rules: Buzkashi

famous ancient sports Buzkashi

The sport of Buzkashi is still played to this day from ancient era of Turkey. This is the national sport of Afghanistan, it involves two teams, riding on horseback, whose goal is to drag a headless goat carcass across the field and drop it inside a predetermined area, usually a circle. Occasionally, a sheep or calf is used instead of a goat.

Buzkashi also is a violent sport, with the riders equipped with whips with which to beat the other rider’s horse. They are not supposed to use their whips on the riders themselves, but the rule is often disregarded.
The origins of this sport are lost in time.

5 Hold the Neck: Shin Kicking

famous ancient sports Shin Kicking

This has been practiced in England for hundreds of years. In this game, two competitors hold their opponents neck and attempt to kick each other’s shins. If you want to win, the object is simply to get your opponent to fall to the ground. You may think this is not an ancient game, yet this is an evolution of an ancient game which was played hitting shins with various sized hammers.

Do you know that there is even a World Shin – Kicking Championship? No, don’t be afraid; you can participate if you like; this is not fatal; thanks god.

4 Another Tug of War: Viking Skin Pulling

famous ancient sports Viking Skin Pulling

This is very similar to tug of war, but is a big game. The Vikings did this using an animal skin over a rope. They played over a huge fire pit. The losers showed their cowardice by letting go, or committed suicide jumping into the fire pit. The winners walk away with the spoils of the town they had just plundered which often included rape – rights to the women. Yes, clumping!

3 A Mock Naval Battle: Naumachia

famous ancient sports Naumachia

Another Roman sport played in front of a crowd of onlookers. The earliest recorded example of a Naumachia was in 46 BC, begun by, yes you are correct, Julius Caesar. He wanted to celebrate his military accomplishments in a Roman ritual known as a triumph.

Two ships are placed on either side, filled with willing participants, and then the fighting began. It lasted until one side was completely killed. The largest recorded Naumachia was set up by Emperor Claudius with hundred ships and over twenty thousand men participated in the game in 52 AD.

2 Sticks for Offense and Defense: Nguni Stick Fighting

famous ancient sports Nguni Stick Fighting

Masters wear badges of honour. These winners also have badges of honour. Those are the scars they had during the fight.

The Zulus would beat the crap out of each other with sticks. There is one stick for offense and one for defense. This is not as fatal as some other sports, but injurious. The competitors walk away with scars after the fighting, and those scars bring honour to them. They play this to find the best fighters in their groups.

1 Under the Light of the Moon: Pelota Purepecha

famous ancient sports Pelota Purepecha

Pelota Purepecha is played at night, under the moonlight!

This is a pre-Hispanic game similar to field hockey, but with a fiery twist. The sport is played with a ball which is lit on fire.

The ball had been smeared with pine resin and lit on fire, which was battled around by players armed with wooden stickes. Goals were set up on either side of field and the goal was to knock the ball across the line. Seems nice, considering most of the above!

Now we know the most popular and famous eleven sports of ancient world, among so many ancient sports alike, such as Hurling, He’e Holua, Papa Holua, Harpastum, Pitz, Camel Jumping, Ulama, Mesoamerican Ballgame, Bull fighting, Dog fighting, Cock fighting, Chariot Races, Kabaddi and Spartan Games and so on. Considering those eleven games we put to the touch, what do you feel?Are they meet the need of sports? Decision is yours. I just place my brainchild here.

We say good old days, but not always!