People played sports as early as 15,000 years ago. Cave paintings of Paleolithic and Neolithic Age depict sprinting and wrestling scenes. Rocks in Libya preserve the evidence of swimming and archery carved in about 6000 century BC. Among them, boxing and wrestling were the most popular sports in most ancient civilizations. Both of them originated in ancient Sumer. Stones and clay tablets depicting Sumerian wrestlers are now stored in the National Museum of Iraq. Tombs of Egyptian pharaohs portray even more sports, including weightlifting, shooting, fishing, and rowing.
Despite sports were played all over the world, Ancient Greece was the true motherland of huge athletic competitions. Early Olympic Games included boxing, chariot racing, riding, pankration, discus throw, javelin throw, jumping, running, and wrestling. Ancient Greeks deeply appreciated sports and played them in public gymnasiums. Boys and men practiced sports to keep fit and also to get ready for war. Wrestling was a valuable form of military exercise that allowed men to fight without weapons. Other sports just allowed men to ride fast and be strong that was also essential in war.
Most modern sports developed from those existing in Ancient Greece, though they seem to have nothing in common. In ancient Olympics, equestrian events were extremely popular. They included chariots races with two or four horses making dangerous turns around the arena. Rider events involved a rider racing bareback on the horse. Pentathlon was another popular activity that included throwing of discus and javelin, long jump, sprinting, and wrestling. The discus was made of iron or stone and had different weight according to the age of the athlete. Javelins were wooden sticks with a metal point thrown as a weapon instead of spears.