Central Asian horse riders played ball games 3,000 years ago

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IMAGE: The area near the city of Turfan in northwest China.
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Credit: (Picture: UZH)

Today, ball games are one of the most popular leisure activities in the world, an important form of mass entertainment and big business. But who invented balls, where and when? The oldest balls that are currently known about were made in Egypt about 4,500 years ago using linen. Central Americans have been playing ball games for at least 3,700 years, as evidenced through monumental ball courts made of stone and depictions of ball players. Their oldest balls were made of rubber. Until now, it was believed that ball games in Europe and Asia followed much later: In Greece about 2,500 years ago and in China about 300 years after that.

Eurasia’s oldest known balls


Researchers from the University of Zurich, together with German and Chinese researchers, have now examined in more detail three

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