2012/09/05

Ancient Egyptian Sports

Many of today's sports and games were practiced by ancient Egyptians. Games were diverse and organised, both indoor and outdoor. Sports must have been a part of their daily life and culture. It was fun for some, while some others viewed it as professionals. The scenes depicted on the walls of the temples and pyramids serve testimony to this. Ancient Egyptian kings, princes and statesmen were keen on attending sports competitions, which they encouraged and provided with the necessary equipments.
The winners of sports contests were rewarded with money and special large collars known as the usekh which half covered the shoulders and chest. However, the winner of the competition was honoured for his superiority, and the loser or his sports man spirit.Wrestling, boxing and Javelin throw were some of the popular games, and of these, wrestling was probably favoured. Archery also was another sports recreation. The settlers of Nile valley also took to swimming.

Ancient Egyptian Sports

Ancient Egyptian Sports

Ancient Egyptian Sports


Ancient Egyptian Sports




Records of competitions resembling modern Olympics are found, which included an early form of hockey, handball, Gymnastics, weightlifting, high jump, swimming competition, boating competitions, long distance running, tug of war and others. Ancient forms of handballs existed. It was enjoyed by the children and adults alike. Marathons seem to have even played a part in the coronation festivities of pharaohs throughout most ancient Egyptian history. They are recorded in many ancient texts of Egypt.

Senet, the board game was a popular indoor activity. There were both simple and elegant boards, the latter being found among the wealthy. 'Senet' meant 'passing'. The game had a checked board known as the "perw" of three rows of 10 squares. Pieces of the opposing sides were distinguished by their size, colour or shape. Each opponent usually had seven pieces. Moves were determined by throwing sticks, or "astragals (knuckle-bones).

The object was to move the pieces around a snaking track to the finish, landing on a number of specially marked squares representing good or bad fortune. Twenty squares was another board game. It was played by two players using five pieces. Other games are recorded using different numbers of squares, but all were position games usually played by two people sitting face to face.

There were several games that could be played by more than two people. In the game of "snake" (mehen), up to six people could play. It used a long field scratched out on the floor and stone pieces in the shape of dogs, lions and balls that were moved along it. In yet another game, pegs with their tops shaped into dogs, jackals and other animals were stuck into a row of 30 to 60 holes drilled into a board. The rules of this game are unknown.

Children's games were usually balancing, racing, wrestling, and tug of wars. Some played ball games. Soccer was a very popular outdoor game. Other outdoor games included Golf, Tennis, Squash, Hockey, Gymnastics, Tug of Hoop, High jump, Equilibrium etc. Sports related activities like hunting and fishing were enjoyed.

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