Researchers have investigated ancient leather balls discovered in the graves of horse riders in northwest China. According to the international research team, they are around 3,000 years old, making them the oldest balls in Eurasia. The find suggests amongst others that the mounted warriors of Central Asia played ball games to keep themselves fit.
Today, ball games are one of the most popular leisure activities in the world, an important form of mass entertainment and big business. But who invented balls, where and when? The oldest balls that are currently known about were made in Egypt about 4,500 years ago using linen. Central Americans have been playing ball games for at least 3,700 years, as evidenced through monumental ball courts made of stone and depictions of ball players. Their oldest balls were made of rubber. Until now, it was believed that ball games in Europe and Asia followed much later: