Ancient Board Games: Exploring the Oldest Classics

Ancient Board Games: Exploring the Oldest Classics

Board games have been a source of entertainment and intellectual stimulation for people of all ages and cultures for thousands of years. While modern board games have evolved significantly, the roots of these games can be traced back to ancient times. From the Egyptian game of Senet to the complex Chinese game of Go, board games have stood the test of time and continue to be enjoyed today. If you’re a fan of board games and want to take a break from, read on to find out about the oldest ones yet.


Senet is widely considered to be the oldest board game in the world, dating back to ancient Egypt around 3100 BCE. The game was played on a board consisting of 30 squares arranged in three rows of ten. Each player had a set of pawns and threw four sticks, which determined how many squares they could move. The goal of the game was to move all of your pawns off the board before your opponent.

Senet was not just a game for entertainment but also had religious significance. The ancient Egyptians believed that the game represented the journey of the soul through the afterlife, with each square representing a stage of the journey. As such, it was often included in burial tombs.


Go is another ancient board game that originated in China more than 2,500 years ago. The game is played on a board with a grid of 19×19 lines, and players take turns placing black or white stones on the intersections. The goal of the game is to surround your opponent’s stones and capture them, while also creating your own territories on the board.

This is actually considered to be one of the most complex board games in the world, with more possible configurations than there are atoms in the universe. Despite its age, the game is still played today and is considered a national pastime in many countries, particularly in East Asia.


Mancala is a family of board games that originated in Africa, with evidence of the game dating back to ancient Egypt. The game is played on a board consisting of several small pits or cups, with players taking turns picking up and distributing seeds or stones from one pit to another. 

Mancala has many different variations and is played in many parts of the world, particularly in Africa and the Middle East. The game is often used to teach counting and strategy to children and is also enjoyed by adults.


Chess is perhaps the most famous and iconic board game in the world, with a history dating back more than 1,500 years. The game originated in India, where it was known as chaturanga and was played with pieces representing infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots.

The modern version of chess that we know today developed in Europe during the Middle Ages, with the introduction of new pieces such as the queen and bishop. Chess quickly became a popular game of strategy and intellectual challenge and has been played by some of the world’s greatest minds, including Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein.

Key Takeaways

The oldest board games ever made have stood the test of time, proving that they have an enduring appeal that transcends cultures and generations. These games have provided intellectual challenge and entertainment for people for thousands of years and continue to do so today. As board games continue to evolve and adapt to new technologies and cultural shifts, it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the classics that have paved the way. 

Which of these ancient games have you played, and which ones do you find the most fascinating? Are there any other board games from history that you think deserve more attention? As you explore the world of board games, be sure to keep up with us for the latest news and reviews on all things gaming.

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