Many sports played today, were also played during the ancient Egyptian period. Many illustrations on tomb walls and monuments show that sports such as long jump, wrestling, swimming, archery, athletics, weightlifting, kayaking, fishing and some soccer games were common among ancient Egyptians. Also, many kings and princes of this era had a great interest in attending sports competitions that they funded with equipment. Rules such as choosing a neutral rule, uniforms for players and announcing winners by awarding different medals, are some aspects of ancient Egyptian sports that are very similar to today’s sports. Here are some of the ancient Egyptian sports that were played by ancient Egyptians thousands of years ago.
Ancient Egypt sports
The scenes on the walls of temples and pyramids clearly show that Egyptians knew how to maintain their physical fitness and health. The sport was an important part of everyday life and culture.
Among the most common sports practised by ancient Egyptians are gymnastics, marathon, handball, javelin, boxing, high jump, archery, weightlifting, swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, and balance.
What Were Their Favorites?
One of the popular ancient Egyptian sports is the javelin sport, which was used for hunting sport for finding food. Archery was another sport of its kind that was a popular way of recreation in Egypt and a popular fishing method.
The Archery was often practised by the royal family. Many water sports are popular in Egypt, mainly due to the location of many of the longest river banks on earth, the Nile.
Rowing and swimming were among the most common water sports played by Egyptians during this period.
Football is a very popular sport in modern Egypt, but the ancient Egyptians also enjoyed a variety of other sports such as tennis, squash and even golf, which were an integral part of the ancient Egyptian sports scene.
What The Tomb Scenes Show Ancient Egypt sports
Given the many paintings and drawings, it can be said that the ancient Egyptian sports also included a number of ball games. One famous version is the alternative of handball played today.
The games were played with balls and bats that were made from palm trees. Ball games seem to have enjoyed both children and adults.
It is believed that most of the ancient Egypt sports were active just to enjoy while some seemed to have evolved into a distinct sporting event.
These sports were usually watched by royal families for fun and enjoyment. The long marathons were also part of the ancient Egyptian sports scene as illustrated by the texts.
It seems that the marathon was an important part of the celebration of the coronation of the pharaohs and kings throughout ancient Egyptian history.
Thus we can clearly see that sport in ancient Egypt was very important and formed an integral part of daily life, not only to maintain the fitness of people but also as a means of recreation and entertainment.
Ancient Egyptians played a game similar to the current hockey game. The drawings on the tombs in Bani Hassan in Minia Governorate show the players holding bats made of long branches of palm trees, with a bent end similar to a hockey bat.
Hockey was made of compressed papyrus and covered with two pieces of leather in a semicircle. The ball was painted two or more colours.
The drawings of this sport were found on the tombs of Saqqara, five thousand years ago. The ball was made of leather and stuffed with vegetable fibres or straw or made from papyrus plants to be light and more durable. It was rarely used for more than one game.
The painting shows four girls playing handball. Each team is aiming at the other at the same time. Players can either be on their feet or on the backs of teammates during the exchange of balls.
Fishing was one of the ancient Egyptian sports that has been practised by kings, princes and ordinary people. There are many drawings of fishing scenes such as a hobby on the tombs of Saqqara in the Old Kingdom as far as they are found in the effects of the modern kingdom.
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo includes several types of fishing rods and hooks of different shapes, which indicates the progress of this sport in ancient Egypt.
Equestrian has moved from the world of wars and war vehicles to the world of sport and hunting wildlife. Ancient Egyptians introduced horse racing among young people.
They managed to stay on horseback without saddles in full control of the horse, as seen in a picture of an ancient Egyptian knight.
Weightlifting was one of the well-known sports of ancient Egyptians. One way of lifting weights is to try lifting a heavy bag of sand with one hand (a clean lift and shiver) and keeping it in a semi-vertical position.
The player had to stay in this position for a short time. This is one of the weightlifting rules applied so far.
Kayaking was one of the most demanding sports that require physical strength by the ancient Egyptian. The paintings recorded the collective rowing in which the players relied on matching the rowing according to the directions of their captain who carried the rudder.
The leader also controlled their movement by calling for a high standardization methodology to unify the moment when the paddle touched the surface of the water and helped propel the boat forward steadily and quickly – a method still adopted in kayaking at present.