Sports in Minoan Crete
Μεταπτυχιακή διπλωματική εργασία
The excavations and the discoveries of the recent years have brought to light very important set of findings which also served to broaden our knowledge of the physical and athletic activities of prehistoric peoples in the Mediterranean and Near East and, particularly, in Minoan Crete. The excavations of Sir Arthur Evans in various Minoan centers revealed a large number of works of art that adorn palaces (paintings, gems, vases, etc.) which are mostly scenes of everyday life on the island, with emphasis on those that depict physical activities such as bull-leaping, a special activity which took place during religious ceremonies. In ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia reliefs of kings and nobles have been found carved in tombs bearing athletic scenes, of which it seems that people in these areas had their own long tradition of similar demonstrations. Some of these Minoan expressions were adopted by the Mycenean civilization adding more elements and giving them a new form. Over the centuries these activities were established in various cities taking place during the religious festivals in honor of the God worshiped at that city or to honor a hero. The goal was to win and its rewarding. This phenomenon was institutionalized and around 776BCE, according to the tradition, the Olympic Games started. However it is difficult to classify these physical activities as sports without making at least an attempt to define sport with the current data and subsequently compare the past with the future regarding this definition and the forms of its expressions on these civilizations. Today sport can be understood to mean all forms of physical activity that contribute to physical fitness, mental well-being and social interaction. These include play; recreation; casual, organised or competitive sport; and indigenous sports or games (Sport, Recreation and Play, UNICEF 2004) 1. According to DSB (Deutscher Sportbund, 1993) sport is defined as an active, regular and systematic physical activity with the intention to support a healthy lifestyle in physical and psychological-social aspects. Various definitions of the Oxford English Dictionary are the following: 1 The Olympic Museum-Educational Kit, FINDING THE ROOTS OF SPORT, Educational kit developed in collaboration with the Foundation for Education and Development (FED), Regional Office, Lausanne © IOC, Olympic Museum / FED 2005, pag. 7. a) an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment, b) activity undertaken for pleasure and that requires physical effort or skill, usually carried out in a special area and according to fixed rules c) an occasion on which people compete in various athletic activities, e) success or pleasure derived from an activity such as hunting or fishing, f) entertainment; fun, g) a source of amusement or entertainment 2. The term sport appeared in the 15th century, derived from the Old French “desport” (12th century), meaning entertainment. There are a number of languages which have no word for sport. In Finnish, for example, the word sport is translated as ‘urheilu’, which combines the notions of courage, risk-taking game and vainglory. Additional the educational kit of Olympic Museum separates the traditional sport (a sport typical of a region or a community, with a long history) from the national (sport practised country-wide) and the Olympic sport (a sport who’s governing Federation is listed in the Olympic Charter). On the other hand, the difference between sport and game is substantial and the reason can be revealed quoting the definition of the word game (according to the educational kit of Olympic museum): 1. Physical or mental activity whose only purpose is the pleasure obtained from practising it. A game may have several characteristics: simplicity, gratuitousness, futility, etc. 2. Activity organised by a system of rules defining success and failure, winning and losing3. From the above definitions turns out that the sport or the game have a common element which characterizes them and it’s the physical human activity which is the source of maintaining healthy and of entertainment, amusement and of competition. But did these activities have the same concept at prehistoric times? It would be necessary, for someone studying the athletic activity of prehistoric civilizations in Mediterranean and in Near East, not to have in mind the meaning and functions of sport in the modern world, as it appears, through the archaeological evidence and ancient sources that events with athletic character in those distant times were associated with other aspects of culture such as religion, often in the form of sporting events that included the demonstration of physical ability, well-trained army and 2 http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/sport 3 The Olympic Museum-Educational Kit, FINDING THE ROOTS OF SPORT, Educational kit developed in collaboration with the Foundation for Education and Development (FED), Regional Office, Lausanne © IOC, Olympic Museum / FED 2005, pag. 7. political ideology. And this will be the main goal of this essay. To provide the necessary information concerning the physical activities that took place in the civilizations in Mediterranean and continuously in Minoan Crete through the ancient findings and sources giving the proper attention to the activities and expressions that were transformed into athletic and as we say today sportive activities. This means activities that appeared by the need of pleasure and of demonstration, by practising them in order the contestants to be excellent, accompanied by ritual ceremonies to honor the deity.
Number of pages122 σ.
FacultyΣχολή Επιστημών Ανθρώπινης Κίνησης και Ποιότητας Ζωής
Academic DepartmentΤμήμα Οργάνωσης και Διαχείρισης Αθλητισμού
Post-graduate programΟλυμπιακές Σπουδές, Ολυμπιακή Παιδεία, Οργάνωση και Διαχείριση Ολυμπιακών Εκδηλώσεων
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