Urania, Musa de la Astronomía. Estatua en mármol blanco, réplica romana del original griego (circa S. IV a.C.). Museo Pío Clementino, Museos Vaticanos, Estado de la Ciudad del Vaticano.
Handball since ancient times
This game, like many of the ball games, dates back to Greek and Roman antiquity which in the case of handball highlights the skills of the hands. In ancient Greece, it was called “Game of Urania” (Urania, according to Greek mythology, was the youngest of the nine Greek muses, daughters of Zeus; she is represented with a ball in her hand, or at her feet, which symbolizes the globe) and is described in the book The Odyssey of Homer.
In ancient Rome, the sport called “Harpastum”, the game of catching the ball, of which various versions were practiced, was very popular for several centuries.
- 5-12 players on a rectangular field marked with boundary lines and separated by a center line.
- Each team has to keep the ball in their half as long as possible, passing it with their hand, while their opponent tries to take it from them and take it to their own side.
- An important rule was that only the player carrying the ball could be obstructed. This limitation generates the development of a complex combination of passes. Players develop specific rules of the game and various tactics.
Harpastum, el balonmano practicado por los romanos. Mosaico en la Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicilia, Italia (S. IV d.C.).
Modern Handball (1892 – present)
The current handball originates in 1892, when the gymnastics teacher Konrad Koch, invented a game similar to the current handball: the “Raffballspied” as a form of training for gymnasts. But it is Max Heiser considered as the father of modern handball. Uruguay also disputes the origin of this game.
In 1926 the first international handball regulations were established and in 1928 11 countries in the summer Olympic games created the International Amateur Handball Federation, during the summer Olympic games. In 1933 Germany managed to incorporate handball in the 1936 Olympic Games.
The sport of handball has been part of the Olympic Games since 1972 in the men’s category and since 1976 in the women’s category.
In 1976 the women’s handball was introduced at the Montreal Olympics.
Currently more than 180 countries practice handball and are affiliated with the International Handball Federation, IHF (International Handball Federation).