This article is not for faint hearts who consider wrestling and boxing to be ‘violent’ forms of sport. Mortals are driven by their inherent competitive spirit which is often witnessed the most during a match or a duel. Although, winning a game adds up as a major element in enhancing our lives today, defeat is gracefully accepted as well. During ancient times, the team finishing second lost their limbs and life along with the game.

However, as time progressed with advancements in technology, human minds evolved. These cruel ancient games were stopped and we thankfully moved on to lesser physically-damaging games. There are competitive sports happening across the globe now, where countries or regions contest for a trophy or cash rewards. Moreover, the runners-up too receive appreciation in several forms, unlike the defeated players who contended in the ancient games. Without much ado, let us look at these games which deceased several human existences nonetheless.

  1. The Fisherman’s Joust: During those days, Egyptians loved this aquatic combat sport. The competition included two teams with eight members rowing on their respective boats. They would venture into crocodile and hippopotamus-infested Nile waters and additionally, the contestants had to knock out their opponents using long poles. Hitting the competitors could get pretty brutal as they had high chances of falling into water and an extremely slim probability of ending up on dry land. The game was all about survival, save yourself from the opponent’s oar or beastly creatures lurking in the deep water. The rule of the game was simple, you lose if you die.
    The Fisherman's Joust- Ancient Games

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  2. Skin-Pulling: This is Viking’s version of tug-of-war. Most of us are familiar with tug-of-war, we played it on sand pits or over a pool usually. Nevertheless, Vikings being Vikings, they tweaked the game to bring it to their level of craziness and entertainment. Instead of a rope, they used hides of animals tied together and played it over open pits of fire. This was one of their most enjoyed and loved sport. The team who lost got burnt it fire eventually.
    Skin-Pulling- Ancient GAmes

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  3. Naumachia: When roughly translated into English, the word basically means a naval combat. This main objective of the contestants was to wreck, fire and destroy the opponents’ ship which majorly contained prisoners. Naumachia did not take place in the sea, unlike the general imagination or thought. It took place inside man-made basins filled with water and several ghastly sea creatures apparently. If the rumours can be trusted, it was Julius Caesar who organised this during 46 BC in order to celebrate his military achievements. At the end of this ruthless feat, the water would turn red with blood and thickly-bloated corpses. Additionally, the slaves were burned to death with a type of napalm that combusted instantly on coming into contact with oxygen.
    Nuamachia- Ancient Sports

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  4. Cretan Bull Leaping: As the name screams itself, this sport involved young men jumping over speeding bulls. Anyhow, the reason is totally insane and dreadfully evil. These boys of Crete had to leap over the bulls which marked their transition into manhood. Sadly, most of these young men never grew up to see their adulthood because of their miscalculated hurdle. Even if few of the lucky ones made the right jump, they were left with incurable injuries ultimately. As a result, only rarest of them, who were unmistakably God-gifted with heaven-blessed capability survived and stepped into their hard-achieved manhood.
    Cretan Bull Leaping- Ancient Sports

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  5. Venatio: Around 54 AD, Venatio was a big sport for the then brutal entertainment-loving Romans. Venatio when translated into English means, ‘The Hunt.’ The slaves had to face, ‘The Beast of Carthage,’ which equates to 20 enormous elephants. These elephants charged towards their opponents who were once brave warriors but now forced to play this merciless game in front of an assemble of screaming psychopaths because they were enslaved. Needless to say, the survival rate of this lunatic sport was 2%. The consequences of these games led to the extinction of North African elephants and loss of several lives of both human and elephants.
    Venatio- Ancient Games

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It cannot be denied that ancient men came up with bizarre ideas which not only led to mass annihilation but also loss of faith in humanity. They could come up with extremely abnormal thoughts just to entertain themselves which pushed human bodies to deaths. However, the world we live in today no longer welcomes such elements of slavery-based, physical unjust and deadly games. We are still capable of entertaining ourselves while we watch other people sweat but not at the cost of death and unacceptable pain. Today, the world is a better place than it was yesterday and tomorrow, it will be better than today hopefully.

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Antara Nandi

A sports and art enthusiast, spends most of the time either reading or writing stories. Loves playing and winning Scrabble and Chess. Appreciates the beauty in every tiny being and deeply in love with- animals.

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