People have been bored for a looooong time. They have been playing games in some form or another since the early civilisations formed around 5,000 years ago, including the Ancient Sumerians and Egyptians! And we are still carrying on their legacy without even realising it! So why don’t we take a look at some of these ancient board games that have been around for thousands of years.
Chess, which may be played both competitively and recreationally, may be the most successful board game of all time. It is said to have been invented some 2,000 years ago and has long been regarded as the greatest intellectual game. Chess, according to most historians, originated in East India. The first edition contained the same sorts of components, but under different names. It spread from there to Persia. Then, a few hundred years later, it made its way to Europe. Once Europeans mastered the game, it exploded in popularity, eventually appearing on every continent except Antarctica.
Checkers, which is said to have originated approximately 3,000 years ago, evolved quickly over its first few centuries. While it began in the Middle East, it soon spread around the world, establishing additional laws as it reached other nations and civilisations. It was and still is a simple and fundamental game played at all levels of society. Historians and archaeologists have discovered ancient checkers items in a number of locations, including the Egyptian pyramids. The game was also mentioned in the early writings of famous Greek thinkers like Plato.
Mahjong is a strategy game that was invented in China during the Qing period (1644–1912). They are usually embellished with Chinese characters, bamboo branches, and dots, while unique tiles depict winds, dragons, flowers, and seasons. In practice, it is similar to the card game rummy, with four players drawing and discarding tiles to complete their hand. The goal of the game is to arrange all 14 tiles into four sets and one pair. Mahjong was brought to the West in the nineteenth century and has risen in popularity ever since.
The Indian game of ‘Pachisi’ is still played today, and a variant of it is known as ‘Ludo’ in the West. It is believed to have evolved from older board games around the fourth century A.D., and it is today considered India’s national game. Traditionally, participants in ‘Pachisi’ and ‘Chaupar’ moved their pieces about the board by throwing six or seven cowrie shells, which may fall with the opening uphill or downward — dice are now commonly employed.
Royal Game of Ur
The Royal Game of Ur, often known as “The Game of Twenty Squares,” is a two-person strategic game. It was originally recorded in Ancient Mesopotamia, and it is estimated to have been played as early as 2600 BC. Boards for the game have been discovered in Iran, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Cyprus, and Crete, making it one of the most widely known ancient board games. Four extremely identical boards were discovered in Tutankhamun’s tomb! When the Jewish population of Kochi, India, began immigrating to Israel in the 1950s, they were still playing a recognised variant of the game! Even today, you can make and play your own version of the game.
‘Senet’ is the only Ancient Egyptian board game whose rules we still know today. Historians have discovered evidence that it was played in Egypt as early as 3100 BC. It was undoubtedly performed by 2600 BC — 4,600 years ago! – and is being played in Egypt today. In Egyptian, the game’s name means “the game of passing.” This might be a literal term characterising the game pieces as they pass their opponents. However, it might also be metaphorical.
How many of these have you played? Tell us about your favourite board game in the comments.
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