A Brief History of Backgammon

A Brief History of Backgammon

A Brief History of Backgammon

Backgammon is known as the oldest recorded game civilization has known. Findings show that it may have originated in the Persian Empire, particularly in Mesopotamia. Ancient backgammon players employed stones for markets and dice made from wood, pottery or bones and since then ancient Persians, Egyptians, Sumerians and Romans have played the game.

The Artifacts Excavations and other literary references point out that backgammon was the game of choice amongst aristocrats and leaders in ancient Greece, Rome, Persia and some civilizations in the Far East. In Egypt, backgammon was known as Senat, with a game board having thirty squares. Senat artifacts date as old as 3000-1788 BC. The rules of Senat and how dice are employed in the game are still unknown. Ur Al Chaldees’ royal tomb had wooden boards and tetrahedral dice artifacts alongside it, which dates in about 177 BC. These relics are now known as the Royal Game of Ur.

In Ancient Rome, it is believed that the game played by Romans known as Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum (The Game of 12 Lines) was similar to Egyptian Senat. It was played in a leather board, with 30 markers of either ebony or ivory. Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum is believed to date back to 600AD.

Soon, the 3×12 leather boards were replaced by 2×12 lines variants and then it reached the shores Britain by Roman conquest and was now known as Tabula. With the Tabula, the Romans now incorporated gambling with the game, which grew so popular and destructive that the government had to ban it. This banning, however, never thrived and the game continued to grow. At the onset of the 6th Century, the game became more of a gambling with dice, and it was now known as Alea.

In the Far East, Asians called the game as “Nard”, short for the Persian Nardshir or Nard-i-Shir, which they meant as wooden product or board. To the Asians, the game is also a symbolization of the calendar with the wooden board representing the year, the 12 points representing the months; the two sides, the hours of the day; the number of checkers, the days of the month; and the two colors of the sides, night and day. The Chinese Wei Dynasty (dating from 220-265AD) called Nard as T’shu-p’u, while the Japanese named it as “Sugoroku”.

The name Backgammon is believed to have originated from the Saxon word “baec” (which means “back) and “gamen” (or game). The game rose to popularity as it was now played with 2 dice. Edmond Hoyle in 1743 wrote a treatise on the how to play Backgammon, which is the first official rulebook of the game.