Sports in the Ancient World

Topics: Ancient Olympic Games, Ancient Rome, Olympic Games Pages: 7 (2799 words) Published: November 28, 2011
Sports of the Ancient World

This paper will examine the importance of sports in the ancient world. I will look at how sports evolved in ancient Egypt. I will answer questions in respect to the many sports that were played. How sports became part of their ancient culture and the true value of being an athlete in the ancient world. My paper will also consider the development of sports for amusement versus competition. I will attempt to answer the following questions: Where did the Olympics originated and how did the Olympics evolve? What sports were available during the original Olympics in ancient Greece? What was the purpose of sports in ancient society? Where there violent and non-violent sports in the ancient world associated with competitive sports today? Have sporting traditions and activities been lost from ancient to current times? How has technology and modernity changed sports over the year? Where was the first Olympic Games played? What kind of prizes were awarded in the ancient world compared to Olympic prizes of today? My paper will also consider the development of the Olympic Games from the ancient world until now. In ancient times to be a man was very different than our view of a man today. It was essential to be extremely masculine. By this I mean physical strength was looked at highly to determine a man’s social rank. This is where wrestling comes into play. Wrestling has the most visual documentation of any Egyptian sports. However there is no written documentation. If you have ever looked at Egyptian hieroglyphics you can often see a pair of men wrestling, thus showing that it was a very disciplinary sport. This gives me the idea that it was used more as a test of a man’s might rather than for fun. Their idea of wrestling was not the same as our Greco-Roman style wrestling we have today in many colleges. They used a lot of throws. Surprisingly, they had a somewhat similar stance to what we use today. (Decker, 70) Boxing was another combat sport used in ancient Egypt to show a man’s strength and power, although it wasn’t nearly as popular as wrestling. As a matter of fact Egypt only left behind a single source of the boxing sports history. It came from the tomb of Kheruef, one of the pharaohs. In this sport you would have six men boxing each other all at once, compared to a one on one nowadays. (Decker, 87) In ancient Egyptian times it is likely that the art of swimming was more broadly recognized in the Nile Valley. It is plausible the majority of the Egyptian who were living as they did on the Nile River knew how to swim for practical purposes. This specifically was true for boatman and fisherman as this was there way of life and survival. (Decker, 90) We cannot assume that all Egyptians’ that worked in water-related occupations could swim. We may say that those that knew how to swim led to swimming competitions. In the Egyptian view, hostile people were unable to swim, and they proved themselves by this incompetence to be inferior to the pharaoh. This was exhibited in the famous Battle of Kadesh on the Orontes, where the Hittite troops set a trap for the Egyptians under Ramesses II. The Egyptian report of the combat praises the Egyptians’ escape to the godlike fearlessness of the king. (Decker, 89) Competitive swimming is unmentioned in the Egyptian sources, yet there exists in the writings a reference to an aquatic contest which presumes it its relative to the ability to swim. The gods Horus(sky god) and Seth(god of wind and storms) had a disagreement in a struggle for territory over the universe and agreed to resolve their differences by a diving contest, a form of an aquatic sport. (Decker, 95) Although we do not have a lot of information about the sport of rowing in ancient Egypt, we can touch on something about the rowing technique involved because we have restorations based on visual images of the many transport crafts that utilized the Nile. Since there is no suggestion that...
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