More than 30,000 citizens of ancient Constantinople (now Istanbul) died in January after a chariot race in the Hippodrome between the Blues and the Greens, two of the four prominent factions in the empire. After the race, Emperor Justinian accused some faction members of murder and sentenced them to death. Citizens reacted by invading the emperor’s palace after a second chariot race in the Hippodrome, where thousands of faction members died in the five-day riot. Throughout the rioting, people yelled, "nika," Greek for victory or conquest.
Richard Ginsburg, a professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and author of “Whose Game Is It, Anyway?” says such actions mimic primal and tribal behavior. “When your tribe gets beaten by another tribe, it can be very threatening,” he says.