Wrestling in Ancient Egypt

Wrestling boys tomb of Ptahhotep, Saqqara Fifth Dynasty
Two thousand years before the first Olympic games were held in ancient Greece, sports played a significant social and political role. Judging from a huge amount of sources it is obvious that both kings and commoners enjoyed various athletic activities. The sources from Egypt document the existence of three kinds of combat sports : wrestling , stick fighting and boxing

Of all the Egyptian sports disciplines, wrestling has the best visual documentation. The first depiction of wrestling occurs on the so-called cities palette from the time of the kingdoms. Here the wrestling pair is obviously utilized as a hieroglyphic. The six snapshots of a wrestling match from the tomb of Ptahhotep (Fifth Dynasty) are complete free of any emblematic character. Ptahhoteps son Achethotep who shares the tomb with his father, fights as youth against a friend his own age.

Wrestling scene, tomb of Baqti III , Bani Hassan no 15, east wall
By far the greatest number of wrestling scenes come from the Middle Kingdom. Outstanding among these are the scenes from the tombs of the princes of the Antelope District in Middle Egypt (in Bani Hassan). In the tomb of Baqti III the wrestling scenes are painted across the east wall. The action of the wrestlers can be followed easily by the color scheme. The wrestlers are stripped except for their belts. The sequence of the wrestling begins with the placement of this bit of equipment that often belongs to the sport of wrestling. The next scenes picture the exploratory moves and the first attempts at a hold. Swings and throws follow in the swift alternation with positions on the ground. The scenes which follow swiftly one after the other, are like a cinematographic reproduction of a sequence of movements that can be divided into five individual phases. One might well consider them impressions of a wrestling match.

Despite the number and variety of Beni Hassan wrestling scenes , information on the rules continues to elude us. Specifically, we lack a clear indication of the rules for determining victory and defeat.
During the New Kingdom, the custom of naked wrestling, dominant mode at Beni Hassan, was abandoned. Except for those figures scratched upon shards, wrestlers were always clothed with a short skirt of the sort worn principally by soldiers. Also new was the arrival on the scene of an ethnic group associated with wrestling even till the present. Nubian soldiers seemed simply predestined for this sport because of their commanding physiques.  In the New Kingdom, wrestling matches were a part of the program for such ceremonies as the pherohs acceptance of tribute  from the Sudan. While there can be no doubt that wrestling matches in the presence of the reigning monarch were staged on festive occasions, we can not exclude the possibility that wrestling matches also occurred to honor deceased royalty. In the tomb of Amenmose (19th Dynasty) these contests stand in close connection with the statue-shrine of the defied Tuthmosis III.

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  1. Two thousand years before the primary Olympic game Wrestling Equipment control in ancient Hellenic Republic, sports compete a big social and political role. judgement from an enormous quantity of sources it's obvious that each kings and commoners enjoyed numerous athletic activities. The sources from Egypt document the existence of 3 sorts of combat sports : wrestling , stick fighting and boxing
    Wrestling Equipment

  2. Very interesting! The Nubians were built for wrestling. I've seen many images of Nubian wrestlers, some with black skin tone and others with reddish skin tone. Sometimes the images suggest that the opponents were matched from these two groups, yet all were Nubians.