"A lively survey encompassing the Orient, the Americas, and the
From the Olympic Games of Greece to the gladiatorial contests of
Rome, sport in the ancient world was fiercely competitive and
included a wider range of physical contests than we moderns might
suspect. The early Chinese played forms of polo and golf, while
half a world away, Hohokam and Maya Indians enjoyed team ball
Nigel Crowther, a leading authority on classical Greek sport,
here casts his net over the entire ancient world to reveal the
variety, and often the intensity, of sport in earlier times, from
3000 b.c.e. to the Middle Ages. Taking in twenty premodern
societies on five continents--with particular emphasis on ancient
Greece and Rome and the Byzantine Empire--he traces connections to
modern sporting attitudes, practices, and institutions as he
describes how athletics figured in cultural arenas that extended
beyond physical prowess to ritual, social status, military
associations, and politics.
Crowther takes us back to the birth of sumo wrestling in Japan
and describes the sports of the Sumerians and Hittites. He
documents bull leaping and boxing as recorded on pottery in Crete,
as well as running and archery as practiced by the pharaohs in
Egypt. He shows the significance of the early Olympic Games,
describes the Romans' use of gladiatorial contests for political
ends, and analyzes the influence of Byzantine chariot racing on
society. He also notes the changing role of women in ancient
sports--from their prominence in Egyptian contests, to the
mythological Atalanta, to female Roman gladiators.
As informative as it is entertaining, "Sport in Ancient Times"
opens new vistas for general readers, students, and sport
historians. It offers a broad look at ancient sport and will enrich
readers' appreciation of games they enjoy today.
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