Ancient Games We Still Play Today

Did you know that some of your favourite games may be over a thousand-year-old? Back in those days, people also avoided boredom and kept themselves entertained by playing board games. In fact, hundreds of board games have been dug up at archaeological sites around the world, while quite a few have been mentioned in ancient works.

Sadly, we no longer know how to play many of the ancient games. But fortunately, a few have managed to survive the test of time. It’s very much probable that you may have played an ancient game without even realising it. It’s now time to discover some of the popular games that are actually much older than what you may expect.


It is pretty amazing when you think that a game played around the world today may have in fact been around for over 5,000 years. From Shahr-e Sukhteh in Iran, backgammon artefacts have been excavated. It is estimated that these artefacts are about 3,000 BC, making it one of the oldest games played by two players. Currently, a few persons are credited with the invention of backgammon, however its exact origin still remains a mystery.


Originating in China over 2,500 years before, Go is one interesting strategy game. Here two players try to take over a larger area of a board by making use of coloured stones. The earliest mention to the board game of Go has been discovered in the Zuo Zhuan, the Chinese narrative history script dating back to 548 BC. Out of the four form of arts that Chinese scholars were supposed to learn was the game of Go. The other arts were playing the musical instrument known as qin, painting, and calligraphy.



Although the gameplay of checkers may have drastically evolved over time, the basic rule of this game has remained the same for thousands of years. An early version of checkers dating back to more than 3,000 BC have been excavated in the region of Ur, currently the modern Iraq. However, many believes the Checkers come from the strategy board game of Alquerque, which originated in the Middle East. Different versions of Checkers have also been discovered in Egyptian tombs, and were taken away to Europe by the romans.




Chess is considered as one of the most popular game in the world, but did you know that this game is said to be around 2,000 years old? Many historians believe that Chess was invented in Eastern India around 250 to 550 AD. During that period, the game of Chess was known as ‘Chatura’ which literally translate to four categories of the military. These includes the charioteers, elephants, cavalry, and infantry. ‘Chatura’ then spread to Persia and later throughout Europe around the year 1000 BC.  

Snakes and Ladders

Snakes and Ladders

The classic board game of Snakes and Ladders is also called Chutes and Ladders. It is derived from an ancient Indian board game known as Moksha Patam. This was more than just a race climbing the ladder. In fact, Moksha Patam was an intricate morality lesson with the aim of teaching people about evil and good. The snakes represented vices, while the ladders represented virtues. But when the game was adopted in England, the Victorians replaced them with their own ideals and indulgences. Plus, the numbers of snakes and ladder were made to be equal on the board.


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Meredith is a recent Media graduate, who loves Candy Crush, Baileys cheesecake, Stephen King books and her pet hamster, Joey.