Ancient Egyptian Sports and Pastimes

Sports is something that has been around, it seems, forever.  Even before there were recordings from historians, sports were important to the Ancient Egyptians.  There are many things that are recorded that show how much the Ancient Egyptians loved sports.


Sometimes, even though sports were fun, the Ancient Egyptians were play sports in order to prepare for a battle or to fight in a war.

Some of the most popular sports in Ancient Egypt were wrestling, javelin throwing, archery, wrestling, boxing, hunting, rowing, fishing, driving, tug of war, swimming and more.

The Ancient Egyptians were known to participate in different types of games such as running and jumping.


One game the Ancient Egyptians played was called “Shooting-the-Rapids.”  This is when two people would get into a boat and they would do different types of competitions on the Nile River.

A type of hockey was also played that used branches that were cut, and they would use these branches to hit balls that were made out of papyrus or animal skin.

Women in Sports

Many women in Ancient Egypt would compete in different types of sports.  Some of the more popular ones were dance, swimming and gymnastics.  They would compete in different types of games and competitions.

Children in Sports

Children also enjoyed playing and watching sports.  Many children, both boys and girls would box, play hockey, wrestle, do gymnastics and swim.

Even though both boys and girls would play these games, they would not play these sports together.

Men in Sports

Men loved sports and they would compete against each other in sports and games.  Most of the time, they would have a referee that would decide who would win.

Sometimes, the players would even have uniforms like we have today.

Temple Pictures

Many temple pictures show the Ancient Egyptians participating in sports.  There are pictures that show them boxing, jumping, running marathons and more.

Favorite Sports

Some of the sports that seemed to be the favorites including hunting, archery, boating, hockey and more.


Some of the sports were played during festivals that were thrown by the Kings or the Pharaohs.  These sports were usually watched by royal families and were enjoyed by people as part of their daily life.


Other things that the Ancient Egyptians liked to do to pass time was to play games.  They would play board games that were similar to many of the board games that we play today.

The Ancient Egyptians also loved art.  They would start at young ages doing art such as painting, writing and even sculpting.

Ancient Egyptian children loved to pass their time by playing with toys.  Many of these toys are like toys that we see today such as pull cars, juggling games, puppets, dolls, rattles, pretend weapons, toy animals and more.

More Facts About Ancient Egyptian Sports and Pastimes:

  • One of the most popular board games Ancient Egyptians played was a game called Senet.
  • Some sports would be played to do mock battles to praise the gods.
  • Archery was usually only played by people that were noble or in royal families.
  • Pharaoh Ramesses II was known to be an amazing archer.
  • Sometimes the Pharaoh would run a course during the Heb-Sed festival to show how fit he was.
  • It is thought that even kings would play sports for competition.
  • Storytelling was another popular pastime for Ancient Egyptians. They loved to tell stories and to make up different types of tales.  Another popular type of story that the Ancient Egyptians would tell were ghost stories.

What Did You Learn?

  1. What were some popular sports that the Ancient Egyptians played?  Some popular sports that were played were hockey, swimming, jumping, gymnastics, archery and more.
  2. What were some other pastimes that the Ancient Egyptians enjoyed? Ancient Egyptians enjoyed painting, writing, telling stories, playing board games and playing with toys.
  3. Were sports played by kings or by peasants? Everyone would play and watch sports.  They were very popular.
  4. What would happen at the Heb-Sed festival? The Heb-Sed festival was a time where the pharaoh would compete in competitions to show how fit he was.
  5. Who mostly played archery? Archery was mostly played by people that were noble or in royal families.