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The forerunner of the dumbbell, halteres, were used in ancient Greece as lifting weights and also as weights in the ancient Greek version of the long jump. A kind of dumbbell was also used in India for more than a millennium, shaped like a club – so it was named Indian club. Despite their common English name implying an Indian origin, the so-called Indian clubs were in fact created in the Near East.
Properly referred to as meels, they are first recorded as being used by wrestlers in ancient Persia, Egypt and the Middle East. The practice has continued to the present day, notably in the Varzesh-e Bastan tradition practiced in the zurkaneh of Iran.