Gaius Laberius is a tombstone of a seven-year-old Roman boy named ‘Gaius Laberius’ who holds a ball with hexagons joined in the manner of a net-like ornament. It has been found under firm evidence that football in Europe was first played in the Cetina Region. This was discovered in the Tilurium site, in the locality of Gardun, and dates back to the 2nd century.
Today the tombstone is built into the front wall of the Perković family-owned stone building on Vrlička ulica 10 in Sinj. Made of limestone, the monument is 113 centimetres high and 46 centimetres wide. At the bottom there is a two-part inscription, the first part of the inscription boasts a well-defined frame with information about Gaius Laberius, whereas the second part is an inscription by an unknown author dedicated to the boy. The central part is a round medallion framed with ornaments, bearing a portrait of the boy who holds the ball in his right hand. At the top of the monument, there is a frieze showing a kantharos (a large two-handled vase), a dolphin and the head of Medusa (in ancient mythology, the personification of evil) and a triangular gable with acroteria (plastic ornaments of tops and corners) in the shape of lion’s paws. The head of Atis is sculptured in the triangular gable. Even though football was played at Gardun among Roman soldiers and sons of the rich, initially the game was Illyrian, and the Delmates had played it long before the Roman troops arrived. This is further proven by the fact that in no locality other than Gardun throughout the historical Roman Empire, a football-related pattern or image has been found. In 1969, the international football association (FIFA) dedicated a cover of its official journal FIFA NEWS (issue 71), headlined Archaeology and football, to the archaeological discovery of the amateur archaeologist Josip Bepo Britvić. According to the FIFA, this finding is a piece of information significant for both archaeology and football fans.
Source: TZ Sinj