Secret Dalmatia Blog - Travel Experiences in Croatia

Roman ball games in Dalmatia

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One of the most interesting pieces of Roman art, in Dalmatia, is definitely a tomb monument of a Roman boy that can be seen as a wall decoration in Sinj. The monument represents a 7 year old Gaius Liberius holding a ball in his hand. It was excavated in the nearby Roman stronghold of Gardun near today’s Trilj back in 1900s.
The monument inspired some folks to use it as an evidence that football was played in Dalmatia nearly 2000 years before the actual game was invented in England! The main argument is that the ball is made of numerous six-angled patches just like modern balls.

The monument

However, the archeologists are no so sure… To them, this is just a ball and the Romans are known for many ball games: http://www.aerobiologicalengineering.com/wxk116/Roman/BallGames/
Nevertheless, the monument is a wonderful representation and no other tomb monument showing a ball, was found anywhere else on the territory that was once Roman Empire.
There are some evidences suggesting that an ancient sort of football was actually played by the native Delmati tribe and the Romans adopted it and even had tournaments with the locals!

Gaius Liberius, 7

So, if in Sinj, stop at Vrlička street 10 and take a look at this beautiful monument. Maybe it holds the secret of who invented football! (or buće 🙂

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