Ancient Backgammon History - A Game with a Ri...

Ancient Backgammon History - A Game with a Rich Past
by Gene Marshall

Backgammon is the oldest known board game in the world. It has a history dating back nearly 5,000 years into the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia, where the original concept of the Backgammon game was established. Throughout the millennium, Backgammon has not only survived, but thrived. Today, Backgammon remains one of the most popular games in the world, played by fans from all corners of the Earth. Through the power of the internet, online Backgammon has allowed anyone with an internet connection to learn how to play Backgammon. To understand how Backgammon evolved from its early roots as an upper-class game of ancient civilizations to the commonly played Backgammon software we are familiar with today, let's take a look at the ancient history of this legendary game.

The first of what is generally considered the family of Backgammon archetypes is known as the Royal Game of Ur. The game originated in ancient Mesopotamia, which is today the area of Iraq and Iran, as early as 3,000 BC. In the tombs of Ur al Chaldees, several wooden playing boards and dice were discovered. They are believed to be the oldest remnants of a game that would eventually produce today's Backgammon. Similar to the Royal Game of Ur is the ancient Egyptian game Senat.

After these civilizations collapsed, an even closer ancestor of today's Backgammon called Ludus Duodicem Scriptorum ("The Game with 12 Lines") arose in the Roman Empire. Like Egyptian Senat, this game also used 30 markers, 15 carved from ebony and 15 from ivory. Originally, this game was played on a board of three rows of 12 points each; by the 1st century AD, the board had been modified to two rows of 12 points each, bringing it closer to the Backgammon board game in use today.

Tabula is the next known version of the game, supposedly played by Rome's Emperor Claudius, who wrote a now lost guide to the game in 50 AD. The game was extremely popular before being prohibited by the Empire in an attempt to control widespread Backgammon gambling. Tabula play is recorded in the annals of the Byzantine Emperor Zeno as being a game that included the present-day Backgammon strategy of bearing off checkers.

From here, Backgammon spread to Asia, including India, China and Japan, as the Persian game Nard, which is how Persian Backgammon is still known in Persia today. It is believed that the Nard version of the game is responsible for inspiring a symbolic and poetic explanation of the Backgammon set up which reveals that the game is designed to represent the natural cycle of time where the Backgammon board stands for one year. The 12 points on each side of the board represents the 12 months of the year; the 30 checkers are the 30 days in the month. The total number of points is 24, symbolizing the hours of the day, and the 15 light and 15 dark checkers are day and night.

Gene Marshall specializes in articles about online backgammon and backgammon board set up. Supplementary readings and articles that were written by Gene Marshall on the topic of backgammon can be accessed online. Internet backgammon authority Gene Marshall writes for a few different distinguished backgammon web sites.

About the Author

Backgammon authority Gene Marshall works for a few different top backgammon magazines. The author concentrates on editorials about backgammon and backgammon freerolls. Supplementary material and writings that were written by Gene Marshall on the theme of online backgammon are obtainable on the web.