Ancient Egyptian Sports & Pastimes

Ancient Egyptians were active people from birth to death. They worked hard at their jobs and liked to relax or compete against each other in their pastimes.

Ancient Egyptians lived in the same time period as the ancient Greek but were not as well known for their sports and pastimes. There were a number of ancient Egyptian sports and pastimes they enjoyed.

Ancient Egyptian sports included individual events as well as team competitions. Sporting games were played at the time of a pharaoh’s inauguration and the events were always dedicated to the gods.

Ancient Egyptian team sports

Ancient Egyptians sports and pastimes included a number of team oriented sports. Ancient Egyptian team sports were very competitive.

Sometimes the teams were comprised of family members and other times team members were job mates or lived on the same street.

Wealthier ancient Egyptian people would buy sporting equipment for poorer teams. Winners had bragging rights until the next challenge or game.

Field hockey was played with curved palm tree sticks. The ball was constructed of leather and papyrus. Although the concept of the game is similar to field hockey today, there were a few differences.

Tug of war was another popular ancient Egyptian team sport that was played from an early to old age. Tug of war in ancient Egypt was not played with a rope.

Two players on each team stood across a line. A team of players then pulled on their waists until one or the other teams were pulled over the line.

The most popular ancient Egyptian team sport was rowing. The Nile River played an important role in everyday life in ancient Egypt. Specialty boats were constructed to be fast and light weight.

Many of the competitors sailed on the Nile River as their job. Competition between trading companies and farms that transported goods on the Nile River was fierce.

Ancient Egyptian individual sports

Individual sports in ancient Egypt were similar to events we might see today in the Olympics. Ancient Egyptian individual sports required rigorous training and superior stamina.

Competitions were difficult with athletes vying for the same awards. The athletic activities in ancient Egypt included jumping, boxing, and wrestling. Other athletes competed in activities such as gymnastics, horseback riding as well as short and long running events.

Some individual sporting events in ancient Egypt were oriented toward warfare. Rich ancient Egyptians would race each other in chariots. Other ancient Egyptians shot arrows and threw javelins to help prove their military skills.

Ancient Egyptian pastimes

Not only did the ancient Egyptians like sports, they also participated in many relaxing pastimes. Ancient Egyptians had something or some god to worship every day and celebrating took place frequently.

Ancient Egyptian pastimes included everything from playing popular board games named Senet and Mehen to throwing parties and entertaining guests. Every ancient Egyptian played Senet, a similar game to checkers.

When rich ancient Egyptians entertained, they provided guests with singing, dancing and music.

Facts about ancient Egyptian sports and pastimes

  • Ancient Egyptians dedicated sporting events to their gods.
  • Ancient Egyptians played team sports like field hockey, rowing and tug of war.
  • Ancient Egyptians had similar sporting events like ancient Greeks.
  • Individual events included gymnastics, weightlifting, running and jumping.
  • Ancient Egyptians had several military style sporting events like javelin throwing, archery, boxing and wrestling.
  • Wealthier ancient Egyptians entertained guests with singing, dancing and music.
  • Senet was the most popular board game played by ancient Egyptians in their pastime.
  • Wealthier ancient Egyptians had chariot races.


  • What was the most popular board game in ancient Egypt?
  • Who did the ancient Egyptians dedicated their sporting events to?
    Their gods
  • Besides tug of war and rowing, what was another team sport in ancient Egypt?
    Field hockey
  • How did wealthier ancient Egyptians entertain their guests?
    Singing, dancing and music