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Crowther offers a fascinating look at the role of sport as practiced in the ancient world. From the Prehistoric Age in Egypt, Sumeria, Mesopotamia, and Persia to the "historic period" in ancient Greece, Rome, and the Byzantine Empire, he not only probes the games themselves, but explores the ways in which athletics figured into cultural arenas that extended beyond physical prowess to military associations, rituals, status, and politics. Among the subjects covered are Cretan bull-leaping and Bronze-Age boxing, the ancient Olympic Games, gladiatorial contests, chariot racing, and the role of women in ancient sports.