Games for your mind

Posts Tagged ‘Board games history

egiptian-goose

Egyptian gooses

goose-gamejpg

Ancient Italian goose game

In 1640, a new board game called “Game of the goose” appeared for the first time.
The game of the goose was published in Venice (Italy) by Carlo Coriandoli. The first stamp of this game represents  a family sitting at the table covered with food off all kind with a big roasted goose in the centre.
The name “game of the goose” probably derives from this first stamp, although many studious  declare that the origin of the name comes from the particular player’s habit of using the won money to buy a big goose.
Certainly the game of the goose  has ancient origins, that can be tracked down in many documents recovered in ancient Egyptian tombs.
The goose game represents in a board game the eternal struggle of good vs evil: the goose must defeat evil overcoming all the obstacles of the game.
The game board of the goose game is composed by 90 coded boxes (in the ancient one they were only 63) arranged in a spiral. The aim of the goose game is to roll the  two dices and get from square 1 to square 90 before the other player. Yo do this we have to be lucky enough to avid the penalty boxes.
The goose game is very simple and it doesn’t request particular abilities, the player wins with the fortune of the dices.
The game of the goose spread quickly in all European countries and was really popular especially among literate and intellectuals. After several years the basic model of the game was reinvented and evolved in many different versions called with many different names during our history: the “owl game”, the “war game”, the “travel game”, the “train game”.

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Aristotle-PlatoIn ancient Greece, board games where very popular, especially among the philosophers and their pupils. Plato once said “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”.
Hellenistic culture gave a lot of importance to games, ancient Greeks invented the Olympics and athletes were considered like heroes.
Philosopher used to teach their scholars using linguistic game and games simulations; philosophy itself was a form of game: to quote Plato once again Philosophy is “like playing an hard game”.
Like Dutch philosopher  J. Huizinga suggests In his book ”Homo ludens” all the stages and the development of philosophy manifest a recreational linguistic activity  in its deep essence: Philosophic rhetoric play  on words during the debates and the clash between the debaters assumed in public speeches the form of a win or lose game. Even in the written form, many ancient Greeks script are a sophistic game of question an answer.
Word games and speech competitions where a sort of recreational activity, used by Hellenic people to shape and rule their ancient society.The winners of those linguistic games where often famous philosophers like Aristotle, Socrates and Plato, great politicians like Themistocles and genial playwrights like Aristophanes.

This fundamental role of playing activities in the Hellenistic culture is manifested also in the Mythology, like in the Myth of  Theseus and the Minotaur.
The Labyrinth and the Theseus myth seems like a perfect representation of a gaming scenario that today could be easily used to develop a videogame:labirint-game Theseus (the player) must overcome different stages in a labyrinth scenario to fight and defeat the final Minotaur monster.
The connection between this myth and gaming was so strong that ancient Greeks invented a board game version of this myth called “labyrinth”, a  game for two, three or four players.
Like in the original Myth, the gameboard represents the labyrinth of King Minos where the monster half men and half animal is trapped. The player acting as Theseus must save the youths Athenians  sent as tribute to King Minos who used them to feed the Minotaur.
Each player has 4 pawns, one for each youth Athenian, the first player to bear off all the pieces at the centre of the board is the winner because, like Theseus, he has saved all the youths Athenians from certain death.

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Royal-GameIn 1920 British archaeologist Sir Charles Leonard Woolley, during some excavations in the Royal Cemetery of Ur in Mesopotamia, found the rests of a Royal tomb full of ancient and beautiful finds.

In this mausoleum Wodley discovered several incredibly well conserved exemplars of an ancient board game.

This artefact was called the Royal Game of Ur and was made more than 2600 years before Christ:

The Royal Game of Ur is one of the oldest board game in history and is composed by two decorated boards and two different sets of seven pieces each.

This incredible piece of game’s history is part of the British Museum’s Mesopotamia collection and was played with pyramidal dices.

Like the Faraons’ board game named Senet, the Royal Game of Ur was a race board game in which the players had to reach the other end of the board with their pieces.

This game had a mistyc power for Ancient Sumers; they  believed that the dead person must play The Royal Game of Ur vs a spiritual entity in order to acess the reign of death.

This ancient Sumerian game can be played on the British Museum’s Mesopotamia website.sumer-map

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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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radha-krishna_chessAll modern studies on chess genealogy agree that we can find the origins of chess in ancient India, when, in an indeterminate period around the 6th century during the Gupta Empire, the game called Chaturanga, was invented.
Chaturanga, literally means “the game of the four armies” and after its rapid diffusion in India and Persia during the 7th century, the game reached late medieval Europe and was transformed in the modern game of chess in the 15 century.
The “four armies” of Chaturanga are made of pieces similar to chess displayed on an 8×8 uncheckered board. The original and older version of this board game was called Chaturaji (“four kings”) , it’s for four players and each player has a Raja (King), a Yaanei (Elephant = Bishop), Iratham (Chariot = Rook), and ‘Kutharei (Horse= Knight ) And four Padàti (Foot-soldiers = Pawns); probably that’s why in modern chess have eight Pawns and two of each rook, knight and bishop.
The word rook of chess, for example, comes from Persian rokh which means chariot, and that’s how the Chaturanga’s piece was called in ancient Persia, this explains also why the rook in chess can move only on its horizontal axis or on his vertical axis because the chariot has the wheels and can’t jump or move in diagonal. The bishop of chess comes from the Elephant that in Chaturanga moves only two squares per time and the queen wasn’t a special piece like in modern chess, it only could move one square per time in order to protect the king.
Despite its old age Chaturanga is still played around the world especially in India and in the Middle East.

chaturanga

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Board games have millennial history and have been played in a lot of cultures and societies.
The oldest board game in the world is Senet appeared in ancient Egypt in 3300 b.C.
Senet was very popular in the land of Pharaohs, especially among nobles and rich people, like this unique exemplar of this mysterious board game, inscribed with name of Pharaoh AmunhotepIII, is well preserved at the New York Brooklyn Museum.
senetboard-inscribedwithnameofamunhotepiii
The rules are still unknown to  but a lot of Egyptologist, think that Senet is an old ancestor of chess with its two different kind of pieces (maybe it was for two players) and its special squares in the board (the ones with the hieroglyphics inscriptions).
Senet was something like, the Ancient Egipt National games and became soon a mystic and religious object too: Egyptians believed that dead people had to play Senet against an invisible opponent to enter the reign of the dead. Many Senet playing tables in wood and ivory, with  drawers for the pieces under the board, were found  in  Tutankhamon  grave.
senet_boardgame
Nefertari too liked this board game, in this picture she was playing Senet.

nefertari-playing-senet

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