Today we have sports channels showing numerous games that provide you with entertainment and excitement. But, have you ever thought about the oldest sports in the world? The earliest sports evolved from the daily activities and the equipment used for the survival of the human in the historic era. What we watch today is the evolved, polished version of the games that originally developed thousands of years ago. Some sports events date back to the world’s early civilization. Has it piqued your interest?Most of the activities that we perform today are the result of the development of the natural human movement. Some sports events are hard to trace and some are not practiced currently. Today we will discuss the oldest sports events that you can trace back, which is still in practice.
It is one of the world’s oldest sports event without any equipment. Though no hard evidence is available to pinpoint the exact date, the event evolved 4.5 million years ago. Lascaux caves provide the evidence of people participating in running as it depicts sprint events that date back 15, 300 years. So, we can safely assume that running was a sporting event in the Upper Paleolithic era. Another evidence available is the depiction in the Drakensberg area’s San rock art. The samples date back to 40,000 years to 100,000 years. It has depicted different types of running like cross country running, sprinting, and bull running.Running became an official sporting event in the first ever Olympics (held in 776BCE). It marks the start of the footrace as a major sporting event. The official recorded running competition dates back to 1829 BCE, which was held in Ireland.
Wrestling is another sport whose origin is not unknown or difficult to trace. But, you can find the depiction of the event through the art in several early civilization. As the running, wrestling is also depicted near the Lascaux caves in France. The wrestling hence dates back to 15,300 years (upper Paleolithic era). You can trace the wrestling as a sporting event back to the Sumerians. Sumerians lived 5000 years ago. The painting and illustrations of wrestling and wrestlers are not found only in France. Caves in Mongolia (7000 BC), Libya (6000 BC) and Japan (Prehistoric era) have evidence of the sporting event. The popular sports was practiced between 100 and 200 AD as a papyrus fragment with wrestling instructions indicates it.Wrestling is an event first practiced by the ancient Egyptians. It is evident from the wrestling scenes depicted on the tombs. Tombs at Beni Hasan has several illustrations strengthening the fact. Historians confirm that it is one of the sports featured in the early Olympics (Since 704 BCE)
Swimming is one of the oldest activity performed by the human. Though you can find the actual depiction of the event in the 10,000-year-old rock painting. The illustrations in the cave at the Egypt Libya border known as the Cave of Swimmers show prehistoric drawings. The drawings in the cave at the Gilf Kebir plateau (Wadi Sura, Southwestern Egypt) show people in various movements that resembles doggie paddle or breaststroke. It corresponds to the historians’ version that 10,000 years back Sahara was not a dessert, but a wetter and greener place. Speculation is rife about the illustration reflecting spiritual practices and not swimming. But, you can find evidence of swimming of front claw in the Egyptian Clay (dating between 9000-4000 BC). Swimming was practiced in the prehistoric era. But, never achieved the status of competitive sports till the 1800s.
Another sports event invented in the early stages of the civilization is the Archery. But, archery was more part of the survival of the humans as they used it for hunting. The invention of Bow and arrow happened in the Upper Paleolithic era (mostly around 20000 BCE). It is an important part of history and you can find its evidence in different cultures and mythologies. Egyptian used it first for their warfare and hunting. Several major civilizations like Parthians, Persians, Indians, Japanese, and Chinese had several archers in their army. Though it made an appearance in the early civilization, it debuted as a sporting event in the Olympics only in 1900. The event made an appearance in the Olympics till 1920 and returned after 50 years in the 1972 Olympics. Currently, archery is a part of the Olympics.
Other sports events like Javelin throw, boxing, etc. have prehistoric roots. Some games played during the historic times like Mesoamerican ballgame and Tsu Chu has a much more evolved versions now. The history of sports is quite fascinating as it was a method to stay fit and useful for military service. It provided enjoyment, health, and excitement with the fierce competition. So, even centuries ago, people started participating in various sports events. Some of the sports like running, wrestling, etc. are still practiced today.