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Vikings – Early Medieval Scandinavia

By |2018-04-24T08:19:15-07:00August 2nd, 2017|History, Medieval|

A Viking ship. Viking trade took the Vikings all over the world.  Who were the Vikings? The Vikings were Indo-European people from Scandinavia (modern Denmark, Norway and Sweden). Around the 400s AD the Vikings started to make frequent raids by boat into Europe. They even went into the Mediterranean Sea and raided Sicily and southern Italy. The Vikings started to attack the Atlantic coast [...]

Medieval games – Games people played in Europe in the Middle Ages

By |2018-04-20T08:25:49-07:00August 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 [...]

The Islamic story of wheat on the chessboard

By |2019-03-22T17:57:14-07:00July 25th, 2017|Islam, Literature|

Muslims playing chess in Spain What is exponential growth? About 1260 AD, Ibn Khallikan, a Kurdish historian living in the Abbasid Empire (modern Iraq), wrote an encyclopedia with biographies of many famous men (though no women). One of the biographies includes a story about chess and the meaning of "exponential growth." What are exponents? More Islamic stories All [...]

Medieval Islamic games

By |2018-05-08T15:25:26-07:00July 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 [...]

Gupta period in India – Ancient India

By |2018-04-23T15:15:59-07:00July 20th, 2017|History, India|

Coin of Samudragupta In 319 AD, King Chandragupta I managed to unite all of northern India into a great empire again. (He was not related to the Mauryan Chandragupta, but he wanted people to think he was). Chandragupta I even conquered some of South India. People called him "King of Kings", like the Iranian emperors further north. [...]

What games did people play in ancient India?

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

Who invented board games?

By |2019-02-20T21:11:22-07:00June 23rd, 2017|Africa, Games|

King Tutankhamon's Senet Board (ca. 1300 BC) When were the first board games? People were playing board games earlier than we have any records. Probably the first board games were scratched into dirt. People played with stones or fruit pits for pieces. History of games Games in ancient Africa All our Africa articles What's [...]

Playing chess – Medieval Islam project

By |2019-03-21T18:18:01-07:00June 11th, 2017|Games, Islam|

A chess project: Two medieval Islamic men playing chess Playing a game of chess Chess is an game that was very popular in the Islamic Empire. The game of chess has not changed very much since the time of the Mamluks and Fatimids. Chess was probably invented in India, and comes from earlier [...]

Central Asian board games

By |2018-04-16T12:31:30-07:00May 31st, 2017|Central Asia, Games|

Kids playing knucklebones (Burma) Central Asian people played a lot of active games, but they also played games sitting down. Because Central Asian people spent a lot of time herding cattle and sheep, their most popular games involved small animal bones, mainly vertebrae, and the games were like the American game of jacks, or knucklebones. [...]