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What were the most practiced sports in ancient times and where did they take place?

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What were the most practiced sports in ancient times and where did they take place?

Our world is considerably different than that of our ancestors, but perhaps one of the most peculiar characteristics that distinguish our societies from those of the past is the importance they have attributed to sport and sporting events.

Although our sports competitions can be considered innovative from many points of view, as unrelated to religious eventsI have strictly political interests (apart from a few exceptions), however we must not forget that even in the past societies presented the opportunity to carry out physical activities not linked to war, also for prepare for official competitions.

In Greece, for example, they took place every 4 years the Olympic Gameswhile in ancient Rome chariot races were constantly promoted (represented cinematically by films such as Ben Hur), competitions between gladiators and boxing competitionsnot to mention how in current Central America the Aztecs and Guatemalans organized a sacred game that recalls current basketball: the Messican ball.

However, if we were to identify which were the sports most practiced by the peoples of the Mediterranean before the advent of Christianity – considered by many historians to be the event that led the slow oblivion of ancient sporting eventsmostly linked to religious celebrations – there are other sports to which we should refer, among other things much closer to us than we think.

The main sports present in the Mediterranean basin around the 1st century AD were in fact the pancratium, the classic wrestling, boxing, running, swimming (even though real styles did not yet exist), hunting wild beasts, javelin, discus and shot putas well as mixed competitions in which you had to fight and then invent poems on the spot.

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The death contests between gladiators and chariot races were instead held only within circuses or stadiums and had “specialised sportsmen” as protagonists, who were recognized as heroes of civil society (like today’s footballers ).

Often the other competitions took place in the public squares, inside villas or temples, excluding some particular situations in which – as in the Olympics – clients asked participants to present themselves in structures used to host hundreds of visitors.

As regards the game of pelota, in Mexico the teams gathered in rectangular stadiums built specifically for the competitions, near the large sacred temples. Furthermore – the only case in the worldthe team that won was sacrificed to the gods.

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