BackGammon History: The Origins of the Game
BackGammon history covers one of the oldest games in human existence, alongside that of chess and go. It is thought to be about 5 000 years old, and to have originated in what used to be Mesopotamia, nowadays called Iraq. The latest evidence found about the game shows also that the earliest dice used in the game were made up of human bones, having been recently found in the area.
How the Game Originally Began
The game as we know it, featuring 24 points and 30 checkers, also known as men, or pieces, has not always been called BackGammon. BackGammon history tells us about other games making use of the same board, including “mancala” and “senet”. The Romans were the first to make it very popular, with a version called “duodecum scripta et tabulae”, shortened to just “tables” regularly enjoyed by a wide array of people.
Many of the frescoes found in Roman villas depict impressions of the game in progress, with some players even enjoying the game naked. BackGammon history has the Emperor Claudius verified as an enthusiastic player, with him building a special board on the back of a chariot in order to cut the tedium of the long trips he took. The Emperor Nero was an inveterate gambler, and is known to have laid wagers on the game to the equivalent of around $10 000 today.
Honourable Mentions of the BackGammon Game
BackGammon history informs us that the rules for the game were different depending on the players’ social status, something that was true for many different games and pastimes. Officers of days of yore bet large amounts of money on the game’s outcomes, and BackGammon became so popular during the Crusades, the years 1095 to 1291, that soldiers below a particular rank were not allowed to play at all.
Many works of art and pieces of literature mention BackGammon, including The Canterbury Tales, written by Geoffrey Chaucer and published in 1475, and Love’s Labour Lost, written by Shakespeare and first performed in 1597.
A study of BackGammon history has revealed that the word BackGammon first appeared in the printed form in around 1645. The origins of the word are unclear, but the majority of scholars are in agreement that it is likely that the Middle English words of baec (back) and gamen (game) are the roots for it.
The second millennium has the game featuring consistently in art, with Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights and Pieter Brueghel’s The Triumph of Death being the most famous examples. It is often represented as being played in a tavern, and very often there seems to be a scuffle occurring in the game’s vicinity, perhaps as a result of gambling practices gone awry.
BackGammon has consistently remained very popular in history, despite it running into problems with the church and other authority figures because of the gambling that so often accompanied it.
More recent depictions of the game show members of Victorian society enjoying it at house parties, and the jazz babies of Boston and New York in around 1925 and 1926 are the ones to thank for the doubling cube. The actual inventor’s name is lost to the mists of time, but it has become a standard practice during play.