Marble Relief of Greek Men Playing a Ball Game
source: Wikimedia Commons
A red-hued marble relief depicts six men who appear to be on opposing sports teams. Each figure displays different body positioning and gesturing, though all generally face toward the middle.
Artifact: 510–500 BC
Photo: September 2008
This marble relief is located on one side of a funerary statue base, located at the time of photograph in the National Archeological Museum in Athens. The photograph pictures the left side of the base, which the museum labels as “Ball Players.” If accurate, this would suggest this depicts the Greek game of episkyros, as its descriptions seem to match this depiction.
However, it is also possible this relief depicts pygmachia, an ancient Greek boxing sport. The right side of this funerary base depicts a dog and cat fighting and the front side (linked below) depicts two men engaging in palé, wrestling. It would make sense that the left side follows this combative theme. This is further supported by the fact that the right man in the middle appears to be transitioning to or from a fighting stance.
The front of the statue base, depicting the Greek wrestling sport palé, is linked below.
Crowther, N. B. (2007). Sport in ancient times. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Pollux, J. (1967). Onomasticon. Stutgardiae: Teubner.