Ancient Times – The ancient Greeks played a version of handball in which a ball the size of an apple was thrown from hand to hand. Homer describes this game called Urania in the Odyssey. The Romans also played a version of the game called Harpaston, as described by the Roman doctor Claudius Galenus in 130 to 200 A.D.)
Middle Ages – During the Middle Ages a form of handball was very popular amongst the Knights of Honour. The rules of this game called for a ball, often adorned with ribbons, to be thrown from hand to hand. This game was often referred to by the troubadours as the first game of spring. In England too both Edward II and Henry VIII banned the playing of handball as its popularity was such that it was becoming detrimental to the practice of archery.
1793 – The Inuit people in Greenland described and made illustrations of a ball game played using the hands.
19th Century – Physical education experts across Europe begin to develop handball type games. A Danish sports administrator called Holger Nielsen developed a version called ‘Haanbold’ as a replacement for football, which according to the school’s headmaster, was responsible for too many broken windows.
The real impulses emanated from Denmark, Germany and Sweden. The founding fathers of ‘field handball’, the first official version of the game played outdoors on a football pitch, were probably German physical education experts who gained recognition for field handball as a separate sport at the turn of the century, based on the games of “Raffball” (‘snatch ball’) and “Königsbergerball” (Konrad Koch 1846-1911).
1912 – A German called Hirschmann, who was the Secretary General of the Association Internationale de Football, encouraged the spread of field handball.
1917 – Max Heiser drew up the first set of rules for field handball.
1919 – Berlin sports teacher Karl Schelenz launched this form of handball, played on a full-size outdoor pitch, in Europe. Later on he improved the rules and is now generally recognized as one of the founding fathers of field handball.
1926 – The Congress of the International Amateur Athletics Federation, at a meeting held in The Hague, nominates a committee to draw up international rules for field handball.
1928 – The International Amateur Handball Federation (IAHF) was set up on the occasion of the Amsterdam Olympic Games. One founder member was the subsequent IOC Chairman Avery Brundage (USA).
1936 – Handball is played for the first time at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. The IAHF already has 23 member nations.
1938 – The first 11 a-side outdoor field handball world championship was played in Germany.
1946 – The International Handball Federation is founded by eight nations, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland.
1967 – The British Handball Association is founded in Liverpool in 1967 by four Liverpool teachers. Phil Holden, Chris Powell, Jeff Rowland and Andy Smith. They were soon joined by sports shop proprietor Ken Watson, who provided the first headquarter for the Association at 38, North John Street, Liverpool. Each of the founders invested five pounds in the new Association, a not inconsiderable amount at the time.
1968 – The British Handball Association is accepted into membership of the International Handball Federation at the IHF Congress in Amsterdam.
1969 – Great Britain play their very first international match against Italy at Edge Hill College, Ormskirk. Final result 12 – 30 to the Italians.
1972 – The British Handball Association is the first federation to be awarded the Hans Bauman Trophy by the International Handball Federation, awarded in recognition of the Association’s contribution to the development of handball.
1972 – Great Britain compete in the Olympic Qualification tournament in Spain for the first time.
1972 – The first British national championships take place and are won by Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh.
1972 – The Scottish Handball Association is formed and the first women’s game in the U.K. is played between East Kilbride and Bell College, Hamilton.
1972 – Handball returns to the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. This time as a seven a-side indoor game.
1985 – The Commonwealth Handball Association is founded at a meeting of nations in Salford.
1991 – European Handball Federation is formed in Berlin.
2002 – The first European Beach Handball Championships are played in Cadiz, Spain.
2004 – The European Handball Federation accepts England and Scotland as separate member nations.
2004 – The International Handball Federation accepts Afghanistan, Barbados, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, and Liberia taking the number of member nations to 155.
2005 – London is selected as the host city for the 2012 Olympic Games. The whole of British Handball looks forward to welcoming the Olympic Games – including handball – to England.
Thanks to JJ Rowland for providing this information