Board Games of Ancient Rome
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18.11.2017

Board Games of Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome can be attributed to creation of many board games that have since then been played all around the world. Roman people were very much keen to sports and amusements, including games that included luck or skill. Such activities formed the integral parts of their regular lives. Interesting is the fact that people irrespective of their ages, whether children or aged people, enjoyed games of different types. In short entertainment was an indispensable part of the Roman’s lives and a time came when a popular parlance came to exist that Romans were interested in breads and circuses. Among the different games were the board games that were immensely popular allover Rome. These kinds of board games were also one of the oldest forms of games in ancient Rome marking its existence from 1500 AD.

There were mainly nine types of board games that were popularly played in Rome. These games were favorite to all classes of people. History says that even emperor Augustus used to enjoy such board games. The game rules for each of the board games were interestingly different as well as unique. A variety of board games could be played in different styles. Tali and tropa were two board games that were played by using knucklebones, which substituted the modern day dice. Tali in fact were the most popular board game of Rome and were popularly known as knucklebones. Although the game resembled dice, the marked bones used in this game was strikingly different. This particular tali game was inherited from ancient Greece. The knucklebones were made of various metals like brass, silver, wood, bone, ivory, marble, bronze, terracotta, gold, glass and even precious gems. The original shape was reserved however, and the shapes used to sit on four sides when dropped. Each side was symbolized and contained Roman numerals having different value.

Again dice was one more famous board game to be popularly played in ancient Rome. It was more popular by the name of Tesserae. Although this dice is quite similar with modern dice, it differs one point that the ancient dice that only two opposite sides of the board would add up to seven. Dice were shaken in a cup and then tossed. The betting aspect of this game was also similar to modern day dice games. One more difference was in the number of players; whereas Greek players played tesserae with three players, Romans played it with two. Interestingly, this game was also played in the gambling houses and at the same time at taverns. Coin tossing was popularly known as capita aut navia meaning “heads or ships”. Among the various board games, this particular board game was often played on streets.

There were other types of board games too that were more or less reputed in ancient Rome. For example, Roman chess was a predominant game and commonly played by a large category people. In Rome, it was popularly known as Latrunculi. Apart from chess, there were Roman checkers and also the game of twelve lines. Each of the game was quite different from the other. They were like life-lines for them and ancient Romans could not think of passing idle hours without them.
May 13, 2008, 2:18 pm


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