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History of Football - The Egyptians

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. How did it start and why is it so popular ?
To answer those questions, we'll go back in time.

Beni-Suef is an important agricultural center on the Nile River which grew from a small village since the turn of the century and now hosts a population of over 150.000 citizens. It is famous for its linen manufacturing in the Middle Ages, and continues to be heavily involved in cotton-spinning and carpet making. Located about 75 miles south of Cairo, the Meidum Pyramid is nearby, as is the Fayoum Oasis. The most interesting aspect of Beni-Suef is the Museum. The first floor of the museum is devoted to Pharaonic items such as statues, canopic jars and saarcophagi and various Graeco-Roman items. Most of these items came from nearby Abusir and Heracleopolis Magna. The second floor is devoted to Coptic and Muslim items which came from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Very little is known about Egyptian ball games and their influence on modern soccer. Ball games were first played in Egypt as early as 1800 BC. In the region of Beni-Suef, archaeologists found wall paintings, objects and writings, all referring to a certain "game" played by girls. As we know, the Egyptians were very religious, these wall paintings were an honor to their Gods, the pharaohs and the people. It is possible that "ball games" were used as religious entertainment for the pharaoh or symbolizing a certain God. The "game" was played by girls, symbolizing the virginity, Egyptian youths played sports nude. The same game was played in 2500 BC as evidenced a painting from the tomb of Beni-Hasan.

Beni-Hasan is a small village, situated south of El-Minya, where an important group of tombs are carved into the high limestone cliffs on the east bank of the Nile River. The tombs are reached via a long flight of stone steps up the hillside from where there is a magnificent view up and down the river valley. The most important of the tombs belonged to provincial rulers. Of 39 tombs on the upper part of the cliff, only 12 were decorated. These offer a rare chance to see the distinctive style of mortuary art, characteristic of the early Middle Kingdom, with their colourfully painted scenes of daily life, recreation and military activities.

The tomb of "Baqet III", provincial governor of Meznat-Khufu (now El-Minya), is the earliest of the tombs which are open. The north wall of the tomb has many painted scenes depicting Baqet and his life in the provincial community, including the desert hunt with many types of animals. Industrial scenes of weaving and spinning, goldsmiths and sculptors are mingled with scenes of country living, p.ex. hunting and fishing, catching birds and gathering papyrus. Battle scenes are shown on the east wall, along with wrestlers which seems to be a feature of the decoration in tombs from this period. The south wall depicts more traditional funary scenes but also includes recreational scenes of sports and playing boardgame "senet". The tomb of "Khety", son of "Baqet III", is similar to his father's tomb. The east and north walls are decorated with scenes of fowling and the papyrus harvest, desert hunting and local industries. Khety and his wife are shown presiding over the activities and watch women dancing and playing games. On the east wall there are long scenes of men practicing unarmed combat or wrestling. The movements can be seen easily because the bodies are painted in contrasting shades. Towards the left-hand side, battle scenes show a fortress under siege, with piles of slain bodies towards the right-hand side. The south wall contains agricultural scenes including wine-making, ploughing and processions of colorful cattle. The funeral rites are also depicted, with the traditional boats as well as offering-bringers and butchers on the west wall. The wall-paintings of the tombs of "Amenemhet" (also called "Ameni") and his successor "Khnumhotep II", has the same themes similar to the earlier tombs : agriculture and industries, hunting and fishing, military activities and funeral rites, and recreation. Most designs dated back to 1900 BC.

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Page updated on... Friday, July 25, 2014 @ 23:05:47 -0700 PM - GMT
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