A Brief But Interesting History Of Board Games

Board games remain one of the world’s most popular pastimes, but anyone who enjoys playing them would be mistaken for believing that they were something of a more recent creation, especially when we consider that games like Monopoly are not that old in the grand scheme of things.

The truth is, however, that board games have been around for as long as there’s been civilisation, and some of the very first board games date back many thousands of years, when the human race was still figuring out how to build cities and modernise agriculture. Let’s learn a bit more about the fascinating history of board games and how they’ve evolved into the fun forms of entertainment that so many people love today.

The Very First Board Games

Historians and archaeologists believe that board games predate written language, meaning that they’re technically prehistoric. The very first of their kind was invented some 7000 years ago and were enjoyed by some of the world’s very first civilisations.

Evidence of these games have been found in sites in Southeast Turkey, Iran, and Iraq, which were all once the homes of the peoples that would one day become the ancient Mesopotamians. These are the same areas where much of the world’s firsts were invented, including calendars, paper, and even the wheel.

Ancient Egypt

Board games were especially popular in the ancient kingdoms of Egypt, where the people would play a game called Senet, and was generally popular among the Pharaohs and other rulers of the time. It was a relatively complex game made up of a number of different pieces, and evidence of its usage can be found on many of the illustrations that were left behind by the people of the time.

The concept of “fate” which can be directly related to what people today believe is luck, was strong among the people that lived in ancient Egypt, and those that played Senet were believed to be under the protection of the gods of the time.

The Royal Game of Ur

For a long time, backgammon was long believed to be the oldest board game still being played, but the Royal Game of Ur actually predated it, and was discovered by a gaming enthusiast named Irving Finkel, who eventually found out that a replica of the game was still played in India, allowing it to take the record of the oldest game that’s still very much in use.

Modern Games

Board games would continue to evolve in different cultures around the world, from the ancient Romans to the Medieval period, and many of the games that our ancestors played were the predecessors of the ones that we enjoy in modern times, along with such pastimes as NZ sports betting.

Chess, for example, is believed to have been created around 400AD and was originally known as Tafl. Many other popular board games had similar origins, and many people would be surprised to learn just how old some of the games in their collections really are.