Games and Sports in Ancient Mesopotamia
“Gaming Then and Now”
Have you ever wondered what people did for fun five-thousand years ago? In today’s society, we play soccer, football, baseball, and video games. The amount of fun we can involve ourselves in is endless. Especially with the wonderful technological advances made in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries alone. In Ancient Mesopotamia, dating about 3000 BC, it is known that the people played some of the very same games familiar to us today such as backgammon, bowling, and even wrestling. By the end of this report, you will have a good understanding of how games of Mesopotamia have evolved into the twenty-first century.
Backgammon, one of today’s most popular board games, is actually a five-thousand year old game. This game was played in ancient Mesopotamia and consisted of a flat stretch of ground, a few sticks, and rocks or pebbles. The ground was their “board”, the rocks were their moving pieces, and the sticks were actually their “dice”! When the sticks were thrown, the sticks were then counted by which fell with a given side upwards. The practical die was only invented around 2000 BC in Mesopotamia. Backgammon has come a long way in the last five thousand years. Today’s backgammon includes a colorful playing board, polished chips, two enormously convenient dice, and even a dice juggler. Although, the most important element which has not changed or evolved over the many years is luck.
Uncovered in 2000 BC in a tomb of an Egyptian child, were pins and a ball. What we believe today is that this mystery game was actually bowling dated back four thousand years ago. The pins and ball were made of hard rock that were ground to form their smooth surfaces. The bowling ball has evolved quite a bit. Can you image bowling with a bowling ball that does not have holes to grip the ball? Or after bowling a strike, to fetch the ball and set the pins back up? Obviously, bowling then was not as advanced as it is today. Nevertheless, Egyptians had a great time playing what we call bowling. Bowling is still a wonderful, and a very popular pastime for people of all ages and backgrounds.
I am sure that we can all agree that jumping, running, fighting, and the throwing of an...