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West Asian games – Mesopotamia and Iran

By | 2017-09-13T17:23:33+00:00 September 13th, 2017|Games, West Asia|

Earliest known dice (Iran, ca. 2600 BC) See that the six is already opposite the one, as on modern dice? But check out this Harappan die. The people of West Asia really liked gambling games. The earliest dice in the world are from a backgammon set from ancient Persia (modern Iran), from about 3000 BC. Backgammon probably came from even [...]

What games did Roman people play? Ancient Rome

By | 2017-10-15T15:37:44+00:00 September 2nd, 2017|Games, Romans|

Roman dice Roman people played most of the different kinds of games that people play today. The most important exceptions are card games, which were not invented until the late middle ages, and chess, which did not come to Europe from India until the Islamic Empire, about 1000 AD. The most common games were probably dice games, where [...]

Roman chariot-racing – the Circus

By | 2017-09-01T22:48:36+00:00 September 1st, 2017|Games, Romans|

Roman chariot mosaic from Vienne, France In addition to gladiatorial games, Romans also liked chariot-racing. Both men and women went to the races. They bet on which horses would win. The races were actually even more popular than the gladiatorial games. Famous race-horses, with their names, in a Roman mosaic floor Men raced chariots all over [...]

Roman gladiators – ancient Roman games

By | 2017-09-01T22:24:49+00:00 September 1st, 2017|Games, Romans|

Gladiator mosaic, from the Borghese estate near Rome (200s AD) Romans liked watching other people die. They thought that was fun, like maybe you think going to horror movies or watching Cops on TV is fun. They also believed that their gods liked gladiatorial fights, so that going to the fights was a sort of [...]

American games – lacrosse to soccer

By | 2017-08-11T22:09:06+00:00 August 11th, 2017|Games, North America|

Ute horse race (thanks to Southern Ute Museum and Cultural Center) The first important change in North American games after 1500 AD came with the horse. Many Native American groups like the Ute people got horses and learned to ride them. So young men and women began to race their horses. Soon horse-racing on tracks, and gambling on horse races, [...]

Native American games – lacrosse, swimming, dice

By | 2017-08-08T11:51:45+00:00 August 8th, 2017|Games, Native American|

Cherokee lacrosse players from 1888 People who lived in North America played both active games and the kind where you can sit down. Their favorite active game was lacrosse. Or actually lacrosse and a lot of other games that you play with a stick and a ball, with rules that were different in different parts [...]

Playing an Inuit game with seal bones

By | 2017-08-08T11:47:39+00:00 August 8th, 2017|Games, Modern Europe|

This is a variation on a traditional Inuit game. Print out the outline of the seal flipper bones and cut on the lines to get each bone separate from the others. Make a set of bones for each player. Now mix up all the bones and put them in a bag. Each player draws five [...]

Medieval games – Europe

By | 2017-08-01T10:26:28+00:00 August 1st, 2017|Games, Medieval|

Women playing chess The games of medieval Europe were mainly the same as those of Egypt, Greece, and Rome: dice, knucklebones, marbles, checkers. But there were some new games, too. In the Middle Ages, chess came to Europe from the Islamic Empire. When the Arabs took over Spain, in 711 AD, they brought chess with them, and it began to spread from there to the rest [...]

Medieval Islamic games

By | 2017-07-23T17:11:39+00:00 July 23rd, 2017|Africa, Games, Islam, West Asia|

Muslims playing chess in Spain The big new game of the Islamic Empire was chess. The Arabs learned to play chess from the Sassanians when they conquered them, and probably the Sassanians learned chess from people in India. Indian people themselves seem to have learned at least some version of chess from people in China. [...]

What games did people play in ancient India?

By | 2017-07-20T09:49:31+00:00 July 20th, 2017|Games, India|

A die found in excavations at a Harappan period site. Note that the six is not opposite the one. People brought the idea of throwing the knucklebones of sheep or pigs to tell the future, or to play a game of skill like jacks, when they first came from Africa to India about 40,000 BC. But people in India may have been [...]