Ancient History Board Games


Ancient history board games are an interesting and relevant topic to explore today because they provide a unique window into the past. They shed light on how people in different cultures around the world thought, reasoned, and enjoyed leisure activities hundreds of years ago. Ancient board games provide insight into aspects of ancient cultures such as art, religion, science, politics and more. These oldest known board games were used both practically as well as entertainingly-for teaching and strategizing military tactics, racing chariots and playing with dice or game pieces while allowing families and friends to sit together, enjoying each other’s company. As such, these ancient games can both tell us more about history itself and how we interact with the world today.

The History of Ancient Board Games

Board games have been around for centuries and often used to simulate war and battles or teach players important life skills. Ancient history is filled with many examples of board games that have survived to the present day. Some of these include Senet, an Egyptian game believed to date back to 3000 BCE; Liubo, a Chinese game played during the Warring States Period (475-221 BCE); Dara, an Indian board game that dates back to at least 200 BCE; Mancala, an African game play since before 1300 CE; and Nine Men’s Morris, a game popular since ancient Rome’s Republic period (509 BCE-27CE).

Senet was discovered in royal tombs in Egypt and involved moving pieces around a rectangular playing grid covered in squares. It was usually inscribed on wood or ivory and commonly found as part of funerary objects indicating it had spiritual meaning.

Liubo was used by emperors of the Warring States Period as an aid for political decisions due its ability to teach strategical reasoning. Played between two opponents over six connected boards, its goal is much like intellectual version of checkers where pieces are moved around based on the roll of dice.

Draughts (or “Dara” in India) has existed since at least 2000BCE when pairs of warriors would move across a squared bodied sandboard depending on their connection turn indicated from coloured stones being drawn from leather bags. With origins tracing back to either Komanche Indians or Siberia language groups it is still quite popular today.

Mancala is one of most ancient of all known board games probably first appearing in Africa region before 7th century CE. Played with wooden boards carved into pits representing 12 holes, each player must attempt steal all opponents pieces by capturing them through various tactic movements that involves beads or occasionally seeds including cowries which were highly treasured currency their traditional societies carrying strong symbolic value within cultures it represented

Finally Nine Men’s Morris originating from antiquity as far back as Roman Republic times combines strategy bridging mathematical principles pastime amusement considering moves ahead future consequences while blocking opposing player ongoing progress just remain equal number pieces needed gain victory this title immediately appealing anyone likes outmaneuver enemy though later modified modern editions variant even safer preteens enjoy fun without added risk perform poorly outcome match highly advanced competitors

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Most ancient board games withstand the test of time, living on millennium after millennium through cultural changes so will centuries come

Examples of Ancient Board Games

1. Senet: This game was created in Ancient Egypt around 3500 BCE and is thought to be one of the oldest board games known. It was so popular that it was even found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. The goal of the game is to be the first player to move all their pieces off the board. The board itself consists of 30 squares arranged in 3 rows of 10 and each turn a player rolls two sticks (like dice) to move their pieces.


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2. Royal Game Of Ur: Also known as Twenty Squares, this game originated in Mesopotamia around 2600 ” 2400 BCE, during the Indus Valley Civilization period. The name of the game comes from a set discovered at Ur in modern-day Iraq and images of it can also be seen in some tombs from this era. As with Senet, two players move their pieces along a path based on throws from two or three special sticks and the winner is whoever manages to get all four pieces back into the central square before their opponent does.


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3. Mehen: Mehen dates back again to Ancient Egypt, often being played between 3000 -2600 BCE. Although some aspects are still unknown, it is believed that up to six players can compete against each other at once while taking turns rolling an unprecedented six sided die! Board configurations vary but usually contain spiraling paths making this one of the more complex ancient board games ever invented!

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Benefits of Ancient Board Games

Ancient board games have been around for many centuries, providing a fun and entertaining way for people to learn about history, strategy, and make some precious memories. While these board games have stood the test of time, today’s modern-day board games offer thrilling new experiences, competitions and endless possibilities.

Many scholars have suggested that participating in playing ancient history board games helps to develop skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, logical reasoning and even strengthens memory abilities. In addition to helping children hone these skills, playing ancient history board games can also teach them the importance of patience and sportsmanship – two valuable skillset taught from generations past to the present day.

Families who regularly play these historical-based board games together can often find themselves embarking on a whole new level of connection. One example is when a family plays the game “Settlers of Catan” as it takes them through reading maps and riding out different strategies alongside one another which serves to bring families closer together.

For those individual players seeking more competition based ancient history game experience something like Mancala could be the perfect choice. With this classic game going back thousands of years ” it offers real life examples of strategy making while providing enjoyable entertainment too!

How to Play Ancient Board Games


SENET is an ancient board game that originated in Egypt about 3500 BC. According to Egyptologist Dr. Walter Crist, the game represents the journey of the soul into the afterlife. To play SENET players use two sets of five pieces each on a board with 30 squares divided into three columns of 10 squares. The aim of the game is to move all ten pieces from one end of the board (start) to the other end (finish). In this video tutorial, you can learn how to play SENET:

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Mehiritomunnuaagiyatsgahi, also known as Big Stone Game or “Woman Picking Berries”, is an ancient traditional game played by Native American tribes for centuries. It uses a rounded disc carved from limestone and 25 smaller “pieces” crafted from bone, antler or stone that serve as markers for players’ moves along a rectangular gaming field with seven concentric lines coming together at four points. To play Mehiritomunnuaagiyatsgahi, watch this interactive tutorial:

Tips for Maximizing Fun and Learning

Example Activities:

1. Create a Matching Game ” Pick a set of ancient figures such as gods, warriors, and rulers from different cultures. Have players match the same figure from different cultures to learn about their influences on each other.

2. Create a Card Activity ” Use cards with symbols from ancient cultures. Ask the players to match symbols to their meanings and discuss the significance of them in the particular culture’s history.

3. Make Character Cards ” Collect pictures or stories about famous people in ancient history (such as philosophers or warriors) and assign each a score based on certain given criteria (e.g., intellect, bravery). Have players argue why they think certain characters deserve better or worse scores!

4. Spice Up Ancient Games ” Many classic games are inspired by tales from antiquity such as ‘Go’ and ‘Nine Men Morris’. Play these with an added twist by adding questions related to historical events that form part of the game’s origin story!

5. Archeological Adventure ” Set up your own adventure course exploring various relics inside and outside your home ranging from everyday objects found in archaeological digs to grand structures like pyramids and ziggurats. As you explore, use this opportunity to weave together stories from bygone eras!


In conclusion, the ancient civilizations of the world have left behind many historic board games that continue to serve as timeless examples of entertainment for all generations. From the Senet of Egypt to the Mancala and Dalda games of Africa, these classic board games are a testament to the skills and capabilities of our ancestors. Through careful study of these relics and their long history, we gain unique insight into ancient cultures, economies, beliefs, and technology. If you have any questions or feedback about this article or would like to comment on the importance and enjoyment of ancient board games today, please do not hesitate to reach out!

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