Sports And Games Of The Ancients

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Based on reports from 19th century explorers, museum artifacts, and other historical documents, the rules, equipment, and diagrams as they are currently understood are provided here for readers, along with suggestions for adapting these sports and games for modern times. Sports enthusiasts and students will find this volume a valuable resource for discovering the earliest beginnings of our modern-day sports.

Divided according to seven geopolitical regions of the world, Sports and Games of the Ancients describes the sports, games, and play of our earliest ancestors. Their need for survival in often hostile conditions enable them to develop skills such as long distance running or archery, and these skills were then practiced in friendly competitions that evolved into our modern-day marathons and Olympic events. Covering such games as Africa's mancala and senet, the martial arts of Asia, the log run and Tejo of Latin America, and the boomerang and surfing of Oceania, this volume provides a solid picture of the sports and games of our ancient ancestors.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The message that sports and games are truly pan-human activities is presented with lively descriptions, insightful ancedotes, and thoughtful reflection. This electric look at the human drama of athletic (and game-board) competition is what all sports and games ought to be:good fun."


The Historian

"Many of today's sports are linked to those of the distant past. The study of the sports and games of varied cultures is therefore important. . . . This well-written reference is recommended for public and academic libraries."


Library Journal

"…A good introductory reference source on major games and sports played all over the world in ancient times…. An excellent resource for teachers who want to liven up their history lesson plans….Recommended especially for public libraries, as well as college or curriculum collections needing a concise introduction to sports and games."


Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin

"[A] unique survey of the history of sports and games. The series is highly recommended for school, public, and academic libraries."


Lawrence Looks at Books

"…Superbly researched….This title will interest researchers and teachers searching for ways of extending their lessons on different cultures. A solid purchase."


School Library Journal

"[A]n amazing and painstakingly researched resource offering insights into the history of what was to evolve into modern-day sports and games. Many of the physical sports were practiced as much to emphasize survival skills as to relax and play. Ancient sports worldwide are discussed and evaluated in this adventurous and detailed repository filled with fascinating facts for true sports lovers. Also very highly recommended for sports history enthusiasts are the other two titles in this unique series: Sports And Games Of Medieval Cultures (0313317119, $49.95), and Sports And Games Of The 18th and 19th Centuries (0313316104, $49.95)."


Internet Bookwatch

"Craig provides a panoramic view of the nature of nonwork physical activity in the ancient world….Craig has produced an extraordinary trove for sports historians. Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above."



"[a]n excellent compilation of ancient games and sports drawing from variety of experts in the historical aspects of these activities."


Journal of Occupational Science

Library Journal
Many of today's sports are linked to those of the distant past. The study of the sports and games of varied cultures is therefore important, as this knowledge offers insights that help us understand our own culture and its heritage. In about 88 entries, this reference work traces the history, development, and rules of play for hundreds of sports and games from around the world. The book is divided into chapters representing seven different geographic regions of the world, although, curiously, it is not divided by continents. Craig (Sports Writing: A Beginner's Guide), a freelance writer and winner of the New Hampshire Sports Writer of the Year award, discovers that sports and games participation among indigenous people found in diverse locations share a number of commonalities. Some sports, such as archery, running, and wrestling, are found in every culture in ancient times and thus seem to be innate forms of activities for all humans. In addition, women were generally treated as second-class citizens in the sports world throughout time and in nearly all societies. This well-written reference is recommended for public and academic libraries. [Titles already available in this series include Sports and Games of Medieval Cultures and Sports and Games of the 18th and 19th Centuries; the next title will be Sports and Games of the Renaissance.-Ed.]-Tim Delaney, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-This superbly researched book, arranged by geographic regions, focuses on the development of sports and games and the effect they had on the lives of people from the first Olympiad to the fall of Rome. Craig defines sports as "rule governed" and with "some degree of organization" and, usually, a "victor or superior performers." Games may use boards or dice while play stresses participation over winning, can happen whenever time allows, and doesn't require an audience. The history of the sports and games of Asia, Europe, North America, Egypt, and the Middle East have been well documented and are covered in depth. Less is known about these activities in Africa, Oceania, and Latin America; however, many are included for those regions as well. Women's roles are discussed when possible, but Craig notes a lack of verifiable information in this area. The author provides descriptions of each sport, explains essential equipment (including how to make it), and the rules of play. He provides enough information so that the activities described can be re-created, but readers will have to rely on text descriptions since there are few diagrams or photographs. Mancala, stick fighting, sumo wrestling (for both men and women), go, the log run, tejo, boomerangs, buzkashi, kabaddi, and Chinese football are among the topics covered. The material provided is not readily available in other single resources. This title will interest researchers and teachers searching for ways of extending their lessons on different cultures. A solid purchase.-Michael McCullough, Byron-Bergen Middle School, Bergen, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
In this volume, sports writer Craig focuses on games and sports that were being played more than 1,500 years ago. The point is to identify activities that modern students can engage in, perhaps with a bit of modification, and so he leaves out such games as gladiator fights. The arrangement is by continent except that the Middle East has a chapter of its own. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313361203
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/30/2002
  • Series: Sports and Games Through History Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,027,149
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

STEVE CRAIG is an award-winning sportswriter who has previously authored "Sportswriting: A Beginner's Guide."

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword vii
Introduction ix
Africa 1
Asia 39
Europe 79
Latin America 115
Middle East 147
North America 175
Oceania 219
Bibliography 255
Index 265
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