Board games are one of the oldest ways of casual entertainment that humans have invented. The reliable archeological findings let us consider that humanity has been enjoying board games for at least 7000 years by now. Of course, some aspiring historians think that board games could be invented even 9000 ago. However, this information is yet to be double-checked and proved by some solid evidence.
The historians of ancient everyday life and game historians usually distinguish 4 basic types of very first board games:
Race games are like modern Snakes and Ladders, where you have to outrace your competitor or several competitors to gain victory. The Ancient Indian Pachisi, which was invented approximately in 1100 BC, is known as one of the oldest games of this kind.
Space games are frequently called pen-and-pencil games nowadays, such as Tic-Tac-Toe, Dots, Boxes, etc. It is believed that the first Proto-Tic-Tac-Toe game was invented in Ancient Egypt, around 1300 BC.
Chase games are mostly associated with old Celtic and Old Norse culture. In such games, players operate unique armies, and each one has a specific task. One player has to capture the king figure while the other player needs to find a way for the king to escape captivity and run away from the gaming board. Those games are known to be invented at least 1500 years ago.
Games of displacement – games like checks or checkers. The player who manages to win the opposing army wins the round. The game of checkers is known as one of the oldest games of this kind. It is believed that the checkers was invented around 3000 BC in Mesopotamia.
Since we managed to figure out the basics, I think it is time to move on and look at our list of the oldest board games ever invented. So… Let’s go!
Chess (600 BC)
Chess is a game that probably needs no introduction. There are hundreds of different theories and hypotheses concerning the origin and the time of its invention. However, most experts agree that chess was probably invented around the 600s BC, which most likely happened in India. However, some other historians claim that the real motherland of this great game is China, which is pretty easy to assume since the Ancient Chinese civilization was extremely developed at that time and the Chinese people also had several popular board games by that time.
Nine Men’s Morris (1400 BC)
This game was made popular because it spread across Europe by the Roman Legionnaires, who enjoyed playing it both for money and fun. However, the history of the game’s origin will take us to Ancient Egypt, where it originated. It is a strategy game designed for two players. Nowadays, it is mostly known as cowboy checkers, and the playing field can sometimes be found as a secondary field on the standard chessboards.
Go (2000 BC)
Go is one of the classic board games that came to us through the centuries and is still considered one of its kind greatest games. Like many other cool things, Go was invented in Ancient China, and it is still widely played by many locals as casual entertainment. The original Chinese name of the game is Weiqi. The name Go was given by the Japanese people who liked the game very much and, eventually, made it one of the traditional national games in their country. Some historians claim that Go can be even older than we think and assume that it could be invented even between 4000 and 3000 BC.
Mehen (2700 BC)
Did you know that the Ancient Egyptian game of Mehen is actually the original predecessor of all Snakes and Ladders games? It is a relatively simple race game where the action happens on the ceramic field that looks a little like a coil or a sleeping snake. Actually, Mehen was also a tribute to the Egyptian Snake God. The peculiar thing about this game is that it is widely considered the first-ever multiplayer board game invented. Just like almost any other running board games, Mehen can be played with more than two players at a time.
Checkers (3000 BC)
Checkers are believed to be invented in Ancient Mesopotamia about 5000 years ago. You probably know that it became popular in many European countries at least 2000-2500 years ago, and since then, it has become one of the most played tablet games ever.
Backgammon (3000 BC)
Backgammon originated in Mesopotamia around 3000 BC. The peculiar thing about Backgammon is that it is probably the oldest known game, which made it to our time almost as it is. Of course, Backgammon board design and rules have changed during the centuries, but it was never actually forgotten and widely played in the Middle East, Persia, Armenia, Roman, and Byzantine Empires. It is believed that Backgammon reached Europe only in the 11th century when it was introduced to French society. Soon after, Backgammon also became popular in Spain and Great Britain.
Senet (3500 BC)
Senet is the oldest Ancient Egyptian game ever discovered; and also the oldest board game ever discovered by archeologists and historians. The peculiar thing about this game is that even now, historians can not say what were the exact rules of the game back in those days. Some necessary information about it was found on the walls of the buildings, and some were found in Ancient manuscripts that managed to survive till our time. The modern version of Senet was developed and released in the mid-20th century by a team of Egyptologists collecting information for decades before they managed to recreate the oldest known board game.