Ancient Gymnastics Outside Greece And Rome

The Egyptian Gymnastics Pyramids

Circus style acrobatics were performed in ancient Egypt. As early as 2100 BC. stone cuttings depict people building human pyramids and balancing stunts in Egypt .

The Dark Ages for Gymnastics

With the fall of Rome and the spread of Christianity through Europe, the knowledge that exercise leads to physical fitness seems to have been lost, along with the ideal of a healthy mind in a healthy body. Gymnastics and acrobatics survived during medieval times through traveling minstrel shows included songs, stories, stunts and tumbling.

Gymnastics in Persia

By 500 BC the Persians had developed the side horse (pommel horse) as a training devise for their cavalry to learn mounts, dismounts, and swinging movements for combat on speeding horses during battle. Even up to just 60 – 70 years ago, the side horse had a raised neck and a croup (end) like a real horse and as the Persians had originally designed it.

Gymnastics in Ancient Asia and China

Tumbling was an ancient art form in China and Asia as well as in Greece and the Roman empire. Stone engravings found in Shandong province that date to the Han period (202 BC – AD 220) depict gymnastics and acrobatic activities being performed.

Olympic Games Abolished

The Olympic games were finally abolished by the Roman Emperor Theodosius in 392 AD. As a competitive sport, gymnastics disappeared after the demise of the ancient Olympics. After financial corruption led to the banning of gymnastics in 393 A.D., the sport did not reappear in the public arena until the 16th century.

Gymnastics As We Know It

Gymnastics as we know it today was never part of the ancient Olympic Games. It was regarded as training for other sports, particularly athletics and wrestling, two of the main events of the ancient Games. Of the modern events currently considered to be gymnastics, only tumbling and a primitive form of vaulting were known and practiced in the ancient world.


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