This site at the BBC (love the Beeb!) shows one artifact that is part of their History of the World in 100 artifacts. The artifacts are part of the British Museum’s collection, and if you can’t find your way over the pond to London (airfare is atrocious!), then the podcasts that go along with the site at the Beeb can be another way to learn about history. Each podcast episode takes a look at one particular artifact from the collection, and discusses the history around the artifact. I listened to the podcast about this artifact last night. Historians have argued over the function of the artifact for years – some say that Mayan athletes wore it, others say that’s preposterous, how can they, it’s something like 50 pounds. I don’t know – those Mayans were tough, but I think maybe not that tough.
The game sounds fun, although challenging: you can’t use your hands, feet or head to move the ball (made of rubber) and it must be kept in the air. Most of the time, you had to move the ball around with your hips. I’m guessing that there were many a bruised athlete after one of those games! (According to the Beeb site, the ball could weigh anywhere from 8 to 30 pounds)
What can we learn about a society if we examine their leisure pastimes? What do our leisure pastimes say about us?