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3000-year-old leather balls found in graves may be for ancient sport

The oldest balls found in Eurasia are leather sacks stuffed with leather strips or wool and hair

Patrick Wertmann

The first ball games in Eurasia may have been played 3000 years ago, according to a new analysis of three leather balls unearthed in an ancient cemetery in northern China. One of the men buried with a leather ball also sported the world’s earliest known pair of trousers, which he may have worn while playing.

The Yanghai cemetery, which contains more than 500 graves, was in use between about 3200 and 1850 years ago. A few years ago, archaeologists …