1. Gladiator fights
The Ancient Romans were notorious for gore and debauchery, with gladiator fights representing the very pinnacle of their cultural excesses. Something you might not know about gladiator fights, however, is that woman gladiators were also part of the spectacle in Roman arenas, but they were often considered to be just "play" gladiators rather than real fighters.
Despite the sheer cruelty of gladiator fights to people and animals alike, all attempts to ban them failed until 404 AD, when a Christian monk attempted to stop a fight between two gladiators. He ended up being stoned to death by the angry crowd. His martyrdom wasn't wasted, however - Emperor Honorius was so impressed by his actions that gladiator games were consigned to history.
2. Hoop rolling
Hoop rolling has been a thing since the time of the Ancient Greeks, and numerous variations also took hold in Europe, China, America, and Africa. The most popular version involved throwing up a hoop in the air with a stick and catching it with the same stick. Some variations involved two players taking turns to catch the same hoops with their sticks.
3. The stick-pulling game
This rather silly game was played in Medieval Europe, and involved two participants sitting facing each other at either side of a wooden barrier. The aim of the game was for one opponent to pull the other over to their side of the wooden board using a stick that they both held on. It was kind of like an arm wrestle with a stick in the middle.
4. Phrenology Sessions
Phrenology is a pseudoscience that proclaims to be able to determine a person's character by examining the shape and structure of their skull. It was actually very popular between the 1850s and 1890s, and traveling phrenologists used to attract large crowds that would listen to their assurances that their "science" could provide a logical explanation of mental processes.
5. Giant Steps
Once popular in the USA and pre-revolutionary Russia, this game essentially involved a bunch of kids running up to a metal pole with a ring at the top of it, which had several ropes attached to it. They would jump up, cling on to one of the ropes, and swing around the metal pole until they inevitably lost their grip and fell. As you can imagine, it was quite a dangerous game to play, especially if the contraption was larger than usual.
6. Freak Shows
Before this politically-correct age we live in came into being, it was once socially acceptable to laugh at and make fun of people with birth or genetic defects. With that being said, the stars of freak shows (or their unscrupulous partners) could become very wealthy by traveling the world and showing their "freakish" qualities. Julia Pastrana, pictured, was an indigenous Mexican woman that was born with hypertrichosis, a condition that leads to unbridled hair growth on areas of the body and face where it wouldn't normally grow.
7. Headless Woman Shows
People were actually made to believe (by so-called doctors) that a trio of women, who allegedly had lost their heads in accidents, were able to continue to function without them. The truth of the matter was that their heads were perfectly intact, but hidden with the clever use of mirror and certain angles or reflection.