This is a review of Babylon: Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilization,
I find it fascinating. The whole book should be read, but the following is what I read this morning:
In 1938, the Dutch historian and philosopher Johan Huizinga published Homo Ludens, a Study of the Play Element in Culture. (In Latin Homo ludens translates roughly as Man the Player.) Huizinga defined play as ‘an activity which proceeds within certain limits of time and space, in a visible order, according to rules freely accepted, and outside the sphere of necessity or material utility’, and he showed that play in the widest sense of the word is an essential element of most aspects of civilization. Law, he argued, is play, as are religion, the arts and the pursuit of knowledge.
In our time, thousand of years later, the pursuit of knowledge is limited to a few. But the games of football (in the North and the South) attract the passionate interest of the masses.