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Marble Relief: Greek Ball Players
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Marble Relief: Greek Ball Players

Marble Relief of Greek Men Playing a Ball Game

Marble Relief of Greek Men Playing a Ball Game

license: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
source: Wikimedia Commons
author: Giovanni

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.

Marble Relief of Greek Men Wrestling

Related Articles

Greek Episkyros | Roman HarpastumHistory of Ball Sports | History of Football (American) | History of Rugby FootballHistory of Soccer | Greek Pygmachia | Greek Palé


Crowther, N. B. (2007). Sport in ancient times. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Pollux, J. (1967). Onomasticon. Stutgardiae: Teubner.