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West Asian games – Mesopotamia and Iran

By |2018-04-25T23:40:39+00:00September 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 [...]

Roman games: What games did Roman people play?

By |2018-09-10T05:43:42+00:00September 2nd, 2017|Games, Romans|

Roman dice were involved in many Roman games Neither cards nor chess... Roman people played most of the different kinds of games that people play today. There are two important exceptions. The first one is  chess. Chess did not come to Europe from India until the Islamic Empire, about 1000 AD. The second one is card games, [...]

Roman chariot-racing – Circus games in Ancient Rome

By |2018-01-14T14:06:37+00:00September 1st, 2017|Games, Romans|

Roman circus games: Roman chariot-racing mosaic from Vienne, France Chariot-racing and gambling In addition to gladiatorial games, people in ancient Rome also really loved chariot-racing.  Both men and women went to the races all the time. They bet on which horses would win. Chariot races were actually even more popular than the gladiatorial games. Roman [...]

Roman gladiators – ancient Roman games – Ancient Rome

By |2018-04-25T16:17:37+00:00September 1st, 2017|Games, Romans|

Roman gladiators 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 [...]

History of American games – lacrosse to soccer

By |2018-04-20T08:23:51+00:00August 11th, 2017|Games, North America|

History of American games: Ute horse race (thanks to Southern Ute Museum and Cultural Center) Horses and horse-racing The first important change in the history of 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. [...]

Native American games – lacrosse, swimming, dice

By |2018-04-11T18:30:20+00:00August 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 |2018-04-20T22:33:17+00:00August 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 – Games people played in Europe in the Middle Ages

By |2018-04-20T08:25:49+00:00August 1st, 2017|Games, Medieval|

Medieval games: Women playing chess Early medieval games: Dice, checkers, 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 [...]

Medieval Islamic games

By |2018-05-08T15:25:26+00:00July 23rd, 2017|Africa, Games, Islam, West Asia|

Medieval Islamic games: Muslims playing chess in Spain Chess from India 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 [...]

What games did people play in ancient India?

By |2017-07-20T09:49:31+00:00July 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 [...]