Games for your mind

Posts Tagged ‘ancient games

Lewis chess set

Ancient Lewis chess set

Currently, the oldest board game of the world is the Egyptian Senet, dated 3500 BC. Senet is mentioned in the Book of the Dead, the Egyptian funerary text which describes the afterlife believes of this ancient civility.
It was believed that winning players of Senet were protected by the tree most powerful gods of ancient Egypt: Ra, Thoth and Osiris.
The Senet is played on a bridge of thirty boxes, while on the back, a second plank of twenty boxes were used for another game called Tjau, but we don’t know with certainty the rules of the game.

king chess piece

King chess piece

Senet game board really similar to the chess one and for this reason many scholars think that this ancient Egyptian board game is the great-great-grandfather of the game of chess.
Four sets to play Senet, handmade carved in ivory, were discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1333 BC.
Another ancient board game is the chess set of the Scottish island of Lewis, consisting of 78 pieces of Nordic origin made with Ivory and whale bones. The Isle of Lewis Chess Set is a really piece of games archaeology and dates back to the twelfth century (1150-1170 AD) and perhaps, it is the only examples to date of existing medieval chess. Read the rest of this entry »

ancient roman puppetGreek and Roman games are one of the little known aspects of these ancient societies.
In Hellenistic and Roman culture skill games were a recreational activity both for children and adults.
Since prehistoric times is possible to recognize the so-called ancestors of games and toys among the archeological finds and in the works of Hellenic and Romans artists and poets:
We know for sure that in the fifth century BC, Crater, an Athenian playwright, wrote a play dedicated to skill games.
In ancient Rome writer Suetonius wrote two different books one on Greek kids games, and the other on the Romans ones: unfortunately all these works got lost and we know only a few certain things about ancient Greek and Roman skill games.
A lot of references are traceable in the works of philosophers, poets, playwrights who, helped us to understand that in every ancient game there was a deep educational theory to help and support kids development through the use of their skills.

In the ancient Roman world the expression “nuces relinquere” (leave the nuts), meant leaving childhood and becoming adult, because nuts were used by kids to play one of the most popular skill game in ancient Rome . The nuts were used like balls and thrown to to smash other nuts, just like in the modern bowling game.

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Dives in ancient Rome

Dives in ancient Rome

Games and toys such as dolls, hobbyhorses, balls, hand-carts, and many others playthings characterized all the playing and recreational activities in Ancient Rome.
The hedonistic lifestyle and the enjoyment of life was one of the most important aspect of this ancient Roman culture and every occasion was good to play games.
A lot of finds in many archaeological sites around Rome and central Italy help researchers to piece together all games and amusements played in the roman empire from toys for children to skill games, gambling and sports games.
Like modern times even ancient Rome games where a stress relief moment and the best way to evade with the fantasy and don’t think to the harshness of the life.
A lot of ancient games were popular among children and adults, with the difference that adults utilized those same games to gamble. This is the case of dives games and of the Astragalus game, played with small animal bones.
tic-tac-toeOther gambling games were animal fights, permitted only during the Saturnalias, the ancient roman carnival festivity; other popular games where coin flip, and the tic-tac-toe game practised on rudimental game boards, often engraved on the public sidewalk. There was also a game called ludus latrunculorum (soldiers’ game) which represents a primitive version of chess and checkers; In this ancient board game all the pawns of the board were moved like an army during a battle.
Last but not the least the ball game, played by people of all ages wit balls created with plumes, cloths and sand.

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Indians_playingGames where invented and developed both in ancient and modern cultures.

In Indian tribes, games were a moment of confrontation and groups dynamics relationships were stimulated by game’s competitions. In ancient cultures, games where a moment of leisure and intense social activity, the tribe played collectively during special events like holy days or harvest festivals. In western modern cultures, board games become more and more part of the private sphere of the human relationships; people played them whit their restrict circle of friends or with their relatives, but like old tribal times, in the modern world board games are also played a lot during festivities like Christmas or Easter: this seems like a old tribal heritage.
Indians, for example, liked gambling and had as a mystic and fierce conception of the war, for this reason Slahal, a board game made in wood and bones, is one of the best war and gambling game ever invented by tribal ethnic groups.
Slahal is all about instinct and intuition and even luck: Two teams play each one with two set of bones one and the players have to guess right on the kind of bones (or sticks) hided in the hands of the direct opponent. If your guess is right you gain points while spectators or other contestants can gamble on each turn.
Native Americans where great with sports too, Lacrosse, the popular sport in USA is consider to be played by Indians for centuries: it was played like a transitional ritual to transform young boys in strong and mature men, and it was deeply connected with religion, Indians used to call it “The Creator’s Game”.
Now Lacrosse is still way to prove the young boys strength, in fact is played Lacrosse school and colleges across all the USA, especially in California, where Indians heritage and roots are strong.
If you good at Lacrosse in your school in USA in general you are well considered in your school and among your friends, so we can say that sports and games can change names, aspects and even rules during the years and among different cultures, but they still maintain, even if in different ways, their important function of social acceptance and their capability of shaping humans abilities and virtues.

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