The Sports Archives – Ancient Egyptian Sports!

Many people don’t realize how much our modern way of living has in common with ancient societies We’re not talking about identical lifestyles but there are obvious similarities within the time frame of about 5, 000 years. Sure, they weren’t producing and processing as much information as we do today, but the way they lived, their entertainment and even some of their sports were almost the same as the ones we know and love today. When you say “Ancient Egyptian sports” most people don’t really know what to think, even though the truth is much closer to “boxing and running” than you might think. In fact, the basis of many modern sports lie in Ancient Egypt.


Early BoxingAccording to historians, boxing was an organized sport even in those days and athletes were awarded great honors for entering the competitions. Sometimes even the Pharaoh, himself, as well as his heir would spectate the bloody exhibitions. Unlike today’s boxing, there were no protective gloves to shield boxers’ hands from the damage that hitting another human being in the head deals. Also, since they didn’t have television, I would assume that the sport didn’t involve that much taunting between competitors and was significantly more focused on the actual fights. The techniques and fighting styles athletes used are unknown but from what we can see in hieroglyphs, it wasn’t much different from what we see on the 50” inch flat screen today.


Antiek hockeyI bet you didn’t see this one coming! Hockey is usually associated with ice and violent, toothless Canadians of formidable stature cursing each other and fighting over trivialities (the only times in Canada when such behavior is acceptable is during hockey matches). However, as it turns out, the Egyptians had a sport quite similar to hockey (minus the ice and the Canadians, of course). The sport was practiced with “bats” analogous to hockey sticks, made from long palm tree branches and bent at the ending, while the “ball” (their version) they used was created rather cleverly by compressing papyrus fibers and covering them with leather. The parameters of the game are unknown but the fundamental principle is the same as modern hockey.


Early Marathon

Luc-Olivier Merson’s painting depicting Pheidippides giving word of victory at the Battle of Marathon to the people of Athens.

Long-distance running was supposed to be a testimonial for one’s physical strength and endurance. Marathons weren’t as common as other sports. They were mainly practiced at celebrations, specifically when  a new pharaoh was to be crowned. Before the crowning ceremony, he had to make a run around all the temples to demonstrate his stamina and will to lead. As a representative of the gods on earth, it was believed that they would grant him the strength he needed to accomplish the task. Marathons were of paramount importance in the Ancient Egyptians’ eyes.


Vishwamitra archery trainingThe most respected sports in Ancient Egypt were those that actually had practical implications in day-to-day life, such as archery. Archery was another great display of one’s strength and fortitude, so the sport was frequently practiced by the pharaohs and their heirs. Archery was a popular sport so there were a lot of competitive events, many of which recorded in hieroglyphs and installed in tombs.


Fishing, tacuinum sanitatis casanatensis Fishing was as much a hobby in those days as it is today. Another practical sport, fishing was frequently exercised by royalty and villagers, alike. It used to be a rather respected sport due to the fact that the end goal was to ultimately acquire food. There are numerous hieroglyphs exhibiting different fishing practices – some with bare hands and some with fishing rods and hooks, pointing out to the fact that even fishing wasn’t all that different a few thousand years ago.

Author Bio: Paula loves to read and write about sports and their history. With her part-time job at  she has enough time to share her experience with the readers.

Photo Credits: Wikipedia

Related Blogs:
Boxing: A Brief History
The Greatest Boxing Matches!
Swimming Through the Centuries: The History!

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1 Response to The Sports Archives – Ancient Egyptian Sports!

  1. Pingback: The Sports Archives – Ancient Egyptian Sports! – Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

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