VIDEO: USA Wrestling's Broadcast of the Presentation
NEW YORK - On Tuesday, Columbia University hosted the presentation
of an ancient wrestling artifact that dates back to 100 or 200 A.D.
The presentation drew the interest of wrestling legends and
historians, who gathered in the Casa Italiana building on Amersterdam Avenue
for the event. Those in attendance included Olympic champions Dan Gable, Bruce
Baumgartner and John Smith and Lee Roy Smith, the executive director of the
National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in Stillwater, Okla. Smith was
presented with a reproduction of the papayrus for display in the Hall of Fame.
The original document will stay in Columbia's Butler Library in the rare
The artifact is an eight-inch patch of papyrus features
step-by-step instructions on wrestling techniques and it is believed to be the
oldest sporting instructional document in the world.
"This is the only surviving coaching manual that relates to
the sport that was used in the ancient Olympic games," said Hall of Fame
historian Don Sayenga. "This is very clearly what's left of three pages of a
Sayenga said that a scholarly analysis of the handwriting indicates that
it was a commercial document that was made for sale. The handwriting is in a
form of Greek called Koine, the language that was very common at that time and
the language of the New Testament.
According to the Hall of Fame, the document was found in the
late 1800s in the southwest region of Cairo, Egypt, by graduate students from
Oxford University who were actually searching for early Christian artifacts. It
was shipped with other artifacts to Columbia in 1907. It is fitting that
Columbia University, the school with the oldest college wrestling program in
the United States, is and remains the home of this ancient treasure.
USA Wrestling, which produced the video coverage of the
event, and various news outlets, such as the New York Daily News and USA Today were
on hand for the presentation.