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Ceremonial Ballgame Belt: Neil MacGregor discovers the oldest ball game on earth.

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Summary

Neil MacGregor's history of humanity as told through one hundred objects that time has left behind. This week he is looking at objects of leisure and pleasure around the world about 2000 years ago. How were we amusing ourselves back then? Today's object is a large stone belt, a heavyweight ceremonial version of the leather and fibre padding that was used in an ancient ball game in central America. This was a game with a rubber ball that dates back as far as three and a half thousand years ago - the world's oldest known organised sport. Neil offers up the rules of the game and describes how it connected players to the realm of their gods. The historian Michael Whittington considers the ritual aspects of the game while the writer Nick Hornby describes how sport straddles the emotional territory between the sacred and the profane.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

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