Volume 27 / Issue 2


Issue Cover

Special Issue: Exploring 5000 Years of Athletics

On the cover: Two Greek vases showing ancient athletic competitions.
Left: Black-figure amphora depicting a boxing match, late 6th century BC. Collection Object Number: MS403
Right: Red-figure kylix with wrestling scene. 500-475 BC. Collection Object Number: MS2444
Photo by Fred Schoch.

The Game of Trigon

By: Donald White

From Roman Athletics: Classical Antecedents to the National Mania “All at once we saw a bald old man [Trimalchio–Ed.] in a reddish shirt playing at ball with some long-haired boys. It was not the boys that attracted our notice, though they deserved it, but the old gentleman, who was in his house-shoes, busily engaged with […]

Etruscan Athletics

Glimpses of an Elusive Civilization

By: Karen Brown Vellucci

Background The Etruscans represent one of the earliest examples of biased media coverage—a problem originating with the authors of antiquity that has been perpetuated by mod­ern scholars and writers. Graeco-Roman sources used such epithets as cruel, deceitful, degenerate in describing the Etruscans; Etruscan women were called wanton and their be­havior was compared to that of […]

Boycotts, Bribes and Fines

The Ancient Olympic Games

By: David Gilman Romano

The modern Olympic Gaines are now one of the most widely publicized events in the world. In 1984, it was estimated that between two and three billion people from all cor­ners of the globe had watched on television at least a part of the 23rd Olympic Games held in Los Angeles; hundreds of thou­sands more […]

“Trials of Strength”

Athletics in Mesopotamia

By: Ake W. Sjoberb

Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk (modern Warka in southern Iraq), was on his way to the place where a couch had been prepared for the “sacred marriage” between him and the goddess Ishhara. When he approached the place where this wed­ding was to be performed, Enkidu, who had been sent into Uruk to compete with […]

Introduction – Fall 1985

By: David Gilman Romano

One of the most popular aspects of modern western culture is its universal in­terest in sports and athletics. Our world is permeated with athletic contests, youthful athletic images, athletic slogans and athletic accouterments. College and professional athletics are multi-million dollar businesses, and the modern Olympic Gaines have taken on major world political, social. and economic […]

The History of Sporting America

Philadelphia Pastimes

By: John L. Cotter

Archaeological traces of sports are often ephem­eral, especially in North America. The Indians left a few ball courts, notably in the Southwest, various gaining pieces, a snow snake here and a chunky stone there, and accounts in ethnological records (see Becker’s article on lacrosse in this issue). European and other immi­grants left a little more […]


Political Organization in North America as Reflected in Athletic Competition

By: Marshall Joseph Becker

Introduction The increasing popularity of lacrosse on college playing fields and in other schools and clubs throughout North Amer­ica reflects the renewed interest in a vigorous sport which is native to this continent. A review of the ori­gins of this fast moving competition offers us some insight into the lives of the people who introduced […]

The Rubber Ball Game

A Universal Mesoamerican Sport

By: Christopher Jones

An extremely athletic sport was played by the Aztec, the Maya, and other peo­ples of Prehispanic Mesoamerica, that area of complex societies in what is now Mexico and Central America (see Fig. 2). In the game, a heavy solid rubber ball about 6 inches in diameter was volleyed back and forth in a specially con­structed […]

Roman Athletics

Classical Antecedents to the National Mania

By: Donald White

I: Contrasting Attitudes “Modern versus the Antique “In the Michaelmas term after leaving school, Tom Brown received a summons from the authorities and went up to matriculate at St. Ambrose’s College, Oxford. . . . He had left school in June and did not go up to reside at Oxford till the end of the […]