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-2500.2 Tale of Game in Sumer, Possibly Using Ball and Mallet.

Game:

Unknown

Age of Players:

Adult

Gilgamesh was a celebrated Sumerian king who probably reigned 2800-2500 BCE.  His legend appears in several later poems.  

In one, he drops a mikku and a pukku, used in a ceremony or game, into the underworld.

One scholar, Andrew George, suggests that the objects were a ball and a mallet.  George translates the game played as something like a polo game where humans are ridden instead of horses.

When the two objects are lost, Gilgamesh is said in this interpretation to weep;

'O my ball!  O my mallet!

O my ball, which I have not enjoyed to the full!

O my mallet, with which I have not had my fill of play!'

 

Sources:

The Epic of Gilgamesh, dated as early at 2100 BCE.

Mark Pestana, who tipped Protoball off on the Sumerian reference, suggest two texts for further insight: 

[1] Damrosch, David, The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh (New York, New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2007).  For specific reference to the ball & mallet, page 232. Damrosch’s comment on the primacy of Andrew George’s interpretation: “For Gilgamesh, the starting point is Andrew George’s The Epic of Gilgamesh: A New Translation. . . "This is the best and most complete translation of the epic ever published, including newly discovered passages not included in any other translation.” (Damrosch, page 295)

[2] George, Andrew, The Epic of Gilgamesh: A New Translation (London, England: Penguin Books, 1999). This book includes a complete translation of the Standard version, a generous helping of fragments of the Old Babylonian version, plus the Sumerian “ur-texts” of the individual Gilgamesh poems. The quote I included describing the ball game is to be found on page 183.

 In the Supplemental Text, below, we provide an excerpt from a translation by Andrew George from his "Gilgamesh and the Netherworld."  

Comment:

Mark Pestana, who submitted this item to Protoball, observes, "Polo?  Croquet? Golf? Rounders?  I think it's interesting that the spot of the ball is marked at the end of the first day."

See Mark's full coverage in the Supplemental Text, below.

Query:

Have other scholars commented on Mr. George's ballplaying interpretation of the Gilgamesh epic? 

Circa
2500 B.C.
Item
-2500.2
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Source Text

1565.1 Bruegel's "Corn Harvest" Painting Shows Meadow Ballgame

Tags:

Famous

Location:

Europe

Game:

Unknown

Age of Players:

Adult

Notables:

Bruegel the Elder

"We had paused right in front of [the Flemish artist] Bruegel the Elder's "Corn Harvest" (1565), one of the world's great paintings of everyday life . . . .[M]y eye fell upon a tiny tableau at the left-center of the painting in which young men appeared to be playing a game of bat and ball in a meadow distant from the scything and stacking and dining and drinking that made up the foreground. . . . There appeared to be a man with a bat, a fielder at a base, a runner, and spectators as well as participants in waiting. The strange device opposite the batsman's position might have been a catapult. As I was later to learn with hurried research, this detain is unnoted in the art-history studies."

From John Thorn, "Play's the Thing," Woodstock Times, December 28, 2006. See thornpricks.blogspot.com/2006/12/bruegel-and-me_27.html, accessed 1/30/07.

Year
1565
Item
1565.1
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1732.1 "Struck a Ball Over the (163-foot) Weather-cock" in New York

Game:

Unknown

Age of Players:

Adult

 
"The same Day a Gentleman in this City, for a Wager of 10l [ten pounds] struck a Ball over the Weather-Cock of the English Church, which is above 163 Feet high. He had half a Day allow'd him to perform it in, but he did  it in less than half the Time."
 

Sources:

American Weekly Mercury, Philadelphia, July 6, 1732, page 3, column 2;

from a series of paragraphs/sentences datelined *New-York, July 3.  The preceding paragraph had begun "On Friday last."

Comment:

Protoball doesn't know of other early references to pop-fly hitting.

Query:

Is it fair to assume that the gentleman used a bat to propel the ball? 

Are such feats known in England?

Is a 160-foot weather-vane plausible?  That's well over 10 stories, no?

 

Year
1732
Item
1732.1
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Source Text