The origins and the first games

The origins and the first games

As we have seen, the board game has no exact origin. It has evolved and developed over the ages, mainly on 3 continents: South America, Asia and the Mediterranean rim. Thus, we find the first traces of board games around 2,600 BC with the Egyptian Mehen, a very precursory game with the appearance of a goose game using figurines of lions and lionesses as well as marbles.  At the same time, the game of Senet is developing, again in Egypt. It is surely the game of which we have found the most traces thanks to about forty games found in very good condition, including one, in the sarcophagus of Prince Rahotep. This unexpected discovery shows how important the board game has taken in Egyptian society.

In Asia, we find written traces of a thousand-year-old game still trendy today, the game of Go! According to the writings, this game was discovered by Emperor Yao, and is the reflection of the intelligence of Man on Earth.

The most amazing thing about the origins of the board game is that there are traces of the Egyptian Senet game called Puluc, in South America, around the third millennium BC. The rules seem more or less identical, only the pieces are different. We can then ask ourselves how such a game could have developed on two different continents without the slightest link? Unfortunately, it seems impossible to answer… The first voyages to America date from the fourteenth century AD although it seems possible that the Vikings went to America before.

In the same vein as the launch and development of the board game, new types of games or rather new modes of entertainment appear. The spinning tops present from the third millennium BC in Europe, as well as gambling in China around 2,300 BC.

However, the biggest upheaval in board play appears in 2,300 BC in the Indus Valley (close to India today) with the first traces of dice play. It is through the discovery of this new mechanism that the board game will begin to gain momentum and become a common and influential element throughout the evolution of societies.

During the territorial expansion of the Greeks and then the Romans and Persians, dice games developed and became essential in the city, especially for gambling and betting. Their expansion is partly due to the enthusiasm of the soldiers who played there during the conquests, further expanding their practice around the world. According to the writings, one of the best-known Roman emperors, Nero, was a great follower of betting and dice games, not hesitating to bet very large sums of money. According to legend, Nero did not hesitate to bet nearly 400,000 sesterces, the equivalent of 400 “salaries” of soldiers.

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