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Konya, Turkey reveals horse racing rules dating back 2000 years at shrine dedicated to famous racing jockey Lukuyanus

Ian Harvey

Ever imagined what horse racing might have been like 2000 years ago?

A stone tablet found in Turkey provides insight into a different story from the rules as used today.

The tablet reveals that winners and their owners were banned from ever competing again. Not only the winning horse but all the horses in the winning owners stable were banned. This was considered as gentlemanly conduct so that others had a chance of winning.

One has to wonder what Red Rum would make of such rules considering his long racing history. The tablet contains the oldest rules of horse racing ever found. It was discovered in Konya, Turkey, and the tablet’s inscription is in Greek.

The tablet is an archaeological treasure and it references a famous Roman jockey named Lukuyanus. The tablet formed part of a monument of the same name built in honor of the Roman jockey who died at an early age. The monument is situated an old hippodrome that was used for horse and chariot racing. Horse racing has been part of many nations sporting culture, including the Romans and Greeks.  Professor H. Bahar of Selçuk University’s History Department, states that the tablet will provide valuable insight into the history of horse racing. It will also provide details of horse breeding and the culture of horse racing in the area.

Professor Bahar further explains how such a beautiful golden rule shows the difference in the sport back then compared to today. The races of those years were based on courteous conduct, unlike the races of today. It provided a platform for every competitor to have a chance at winning and to taste victory.

Considering the prestigious nature of horse racing held throughout the ages, the professor believes the tablet is a rare find. There is none like it, and it contains a report of a race called the Atlas Obscura. There is no other archaeological record older than this tablet that contains the rules of the sport.

During those times, horse racing took place in a hippodrome and was quite a dangerous affair due to the hippodrome’s uneven surface. Jockeys had to navigate treacherous ground while racing. Hippodromes were primarily used for chariot racing, and the wheels of the chariot damaged the surface of the hippodrome.

Horse racing was not as advanced 2000 years ago either, said the British Museum. It wasn’t uncommon for riders to be flung from their horses, causing injury. This was because saddles, stirrups, and other equipment had not yet been invented. Horses could continue to finish the race riderless and win if they passed the finishing post first. The victorious horse and owner would enjoy a rapturous round of applause in celebration of their victory.

Horse racing was a feature of the cultures of Babylon, Syria, Greece, Rome, and other ancient civilizations according to historians.

Read another story from us: Sancai: Three-colored glazed figures used in funerary rituals during the Tang dynasty

Horse racing has contributed to Viking Norse mythology. Myths such as the race between the God Odin and the giant Hrungir have made it into stories and legends still told today.