Games Played in Ancient Times


We take a look at some of the games played in ancient times


Ancient Greece had a rich civilisation and heritage. Along with their routine activities, the people of Ancient Greece kept one portion of the day aside for games, activities and athletic competitions. For the Greeks, these games were not only a source of entertainment, but also religious events. They believed that playing games would make the Gods happy. This is why they also initiated the Olympics Games.

The Snail: Two players are enough for this game. They have to draw a big snail on the ground. Then they must use a lottery system to see who starts first. The first player throws a small stone into the mouth of the snail. Next, he tries to push the stone to the centre by hopping on his right foot. He hits it with the point of his shoe slowly and carefully so that it won't touch the line. Once it reaches the centre, the player has to bring the stone back to the mouth of the snail. If he manages to do so and also takes the stone out of the snail's mouth without touching any of the lines, he gains a point and has the right to try again. But if he steps on the line or his stone touches the line, he loses. The winner is the player who reaches the number of points decided before the game.

Dog Watcher: The dog is a container put on a rock. One of the players becomes the Dog Watcher. He must stay next to the container and watch it. The rest of the players stay beyond a line drawn on the ground a few metres away. Everyone has a rock in their hands. They aim the rock towards the container in an attempt to drop the container. If any of them drops the container, all the players need to pick up their rock and run towards the line before the Dog Watcher puts the container back in place. If the Dog Watcher puts the container on the rock, can catch those players who have not managed to cross the line. The first person to get caught becomes the next Dog Watcher.



Scary Man:In this game, the players draw a large rectangle on the ground. The size of the rectangle depends on the number of participants. All the players stand on one side Of the rectangle, looking in the opposite direction. One player acts as the Scary Man and stands in the middle the rectangle. Dramatically, he asks the others, "Are you afraid of me?" All the players answer "No" and try get to the other side of the rectangle. The Scary Man runs after them trying to catch somebody. One of them becomes a prisoner and takes the place of the Scary Man and the game goes on. 

Fox in the Henhouse: Players draw a square on the ground, which represents the henhouse. One player is chosen to be the fox and another one is chosen to be the rooster. All the other players are baby chicks. All the players except the fox must remain in the henhouse. When the fox enters the henhouse, all the chicks must try to run and hide behind the rooster. If the fox catches them before they can get behind the rooster, they are out of the game and must let the fox lead them out of the henhouse. The game is over when the last chick has been caught by the fox.



Forcing the City Gates: Forcing the City Gates is a traditional Chinese game for children. It requires a fair amount of energy. Six players can play this game together. Two captains are chosen and each picks his team-mates. The two teams line up opposite each other, holding hands. Now, one player from one team starts by hurling himself at the other side's line, trying to break through between two players. If he breaks through, the players on either side of him must go back with him and join his team. If he doesn't, he stays and becomes a member of that team. The game should be played until one team's wall is completely broken up.

Throw Stones: First, the player must find five small stones, preferably round in shape. To play, the player throws the stones on the ground. Then the player picks up one of them, throws it in the air and quickly grabs one of the other stones. The player must catch the stone with the same hand that he threw it with. In this way,  the player must pick up all four stones from the ground,  one by one. Then the game becomes more difficult as the player has to pick two stones at a time. Then he has to pick three stones at a time and finally, he must pick all four stones at a time. This game can be played with one or more players. If one player fails to pick up the stones according to the rules, he loses his turn and the next player continues.



Kemari: Kemari is a form of football that was popular in Japan during the Heian Period. The sport was introduced to Japan during the Asuka period. To play kemari, one has to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible, with all the players cooperating to do so. Players may use their head, feet, knees, back and even elbows to keep the ball aloft. The ball, known as a mari, used to be made of deerskin. The ball was stuffed with barley grains to give it shape. When the hide had set in this shape, the grains were removed from the ball.

The player who kicks the ball is called a mariashi. A good mariashi makes it easy for the receiver to control the mari and serves it with a soft touch to make it easy to keep the mari in the air. Kemari is played on a flat ground about 15sq mts large. The uniforms that the players wear are reminiscent of the clothes of the Asuka Age and include a crow hat. This type of clothing was called kariginu.

Weightlifting: In ancient Japan, weightlifting used to be a mandatory activity. It had to be practised by people of every age. The weights lifted by people would differ according To their age. However, women were not allowed to practise weightlifting.



Gilli Danda: The objective of this sport is to use the danda (stick)  to strike the gilli (a small roundel that is thick in the centre). For this purpose, a circle is drawn in the ground In which a small, oblong or spindle-shaped hole is dug (the overall shape looks like a traditional boat). This hole is smaller than the gilli but as the play progresses, the size may increase due to wear. The gilli is inserted into the hole at an angle. Sometimes, no hole is used.  

The danda is then swung downward onto the end of the gilli, causing the gilli to jump upward. The striker then strikes the gilli outward, away from him. Another variation is when the danda lifts or pries the gilli out of the hole at a high speed. As this game is quite similar to cricket, many people believe that cricket originated from it.

Archery: The bow is held in the hand opposite to the archer's dominant eye. This hand is referred to as the bow hand and its arm, the bow arm. The opposite hand is called the drawing hand or string hand. The archer has to stand facing the target (sight towards the target).  Then the archer pulls the arrow backwards and leaves it to hit the aim.



Leapfrog: Leapfrog is a children's game in which players vault over each other's stooped backs. The first participant rests his hands on his knees and bends over, which is called giving a back. The next player places hands on the firstís back and leaps over by straddling his legs wide apart on each side. On landing, he stoops down and a third leaps over the first and second, and the fourth over all the others successively. The number Of participants is not fixed. When all the players are stooping, the last in line begins leaping over all the others in turn.

Skipping: A jump rope is the primary tool used in the game of skipping. One or more participants jump over a rope swung so that it passes under their feet and over their heads. This may consist of just one participant jumping over the rope. A minimum of three participants take turns - two turn the rope while one jumps. Sometimes, the game is played with two turning ropes. This form of the activity is called Double Dutch.