In this collection of resources, we examine some of the sports that thrilled ancient and medieval audiences from the fast and furious chariot races of the Circus Maximus to the colour and pageantry of medieval jousts. We look at the hockey matches of the ancient Egyptians, the Olympic Games with its multiple events which still entertain today, and the organized hunts and falconry of the Mongols. Many of these sporting events and occasions had a religious significance like the bouts of Japanese sumo wrestling, and sometimes, such as in the Mesoamerican ball game, victory could be a matter of life or death.
If there was one thing the Roman people loved it was spectacle and the opportunity of escapism offered by weird and wonderful public shows which assaulted the senses and ratcheted up the emotions. Roman rulers knew this well and so to increase their popularity and prestige with the people they put on lavish and spectacular shows in purpose-built venues across the empire.