The brick grave
The balsamarium was found beside the burial of a man who died between 35 and 40 years old. ajaonline.org

Many modern sports, such as gymnastics, boxing, swimming and archery, originally started tens of thousands of years ago during some of the world's oldest civilizations. So it can be believed that in ancient times also there were fans of some particular sports.

Recently, archaeologists found a jar shaped like the head of a wrestler or boxer with a broken nose in south-eastern Bulgaria.

Archaeologists who made this discovery stated that this 1,800-year-old balsamarium which is actually an ancient vessel for storing liquids such as balm or perfumes was found in a grave.

The ancient vessel was found from the place which was known as Thrace during the ancient days and was controlled by Romans in that era. This balsamarium looks like a man with a goatee and a nose that looks broken. Archaeologists also noticed a cap made from the skin of an animal who belongs to a member of the cat family, most probably a panther or leopard.

In the study, the archaeologists mentioned that "It is probable that the representation of the athlete's cap as the skin of a savage feline was meant to suggest the athlete's similarity to Hercules and, in this way, to signify the heroic power and courage possessed by the athlete."

Balsamarium Shaped as a Male Head
Balsamarium Shaped like a Male Head ajaonline.org

It should be mentioned that this newly found balsamariums, which is made of brass, has similarities with those which were discovered earlier in the Roman Empire. This includes a feature, a broken or bent nose, which also indicates towards boxers and wrestlers.

Along with the balsamariums, a skeleton of a man was discovered who is believed to have died when about 30 to 40 years old. During the excavation, the team also discovered a blade which was used to scrape sweat and dirt from the skin, from the grave, which is part of a larger burial complex that was found within a 9.8-foot-high (3 meters) burial mound called a tumulus.

The lead archaeologists of this study, Daniela Agre, an archaeologist at the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences told Live Science that as per their observation, the grave belongs to a "Thracian aristocrat, who has practised sport in his everyday life, rather than to a professional athlete."

The paper was published in the October issue of the American Journal of Archaeology.

It can be mentioned that the earliest known boxing comes from a Sumerian relief from the second millennium BCE. Apart from Sumerian civilization, in another ancient culture fought bare-fisted, while Minoans appear to be the first civilization to use boxing gloves.

Westling is another ancient sport, which can't be traced back as it is depicted throughout the art of several early civilizations.