Backgammon may be the oldest game in human history. Variants of backgammon were played by many ancient civilizations, including the Sumerians, Egyptians, Persians, and Romans. Modern backgammon history is similarly rich and diverse, reflecting backgammon's status as the eternal pastime of commoners and kings.
Rules and Etymology of Ancient Backgammon History
In Iran, Persians played Takhteh Nard, meaning 'battle on wood.' Just like backgammon, Nard featured two dice, a board with two points of 12 sides, and 30 checkers. The Roman version of backgammon was originally called Game of Twelve Lines, and later Tabula, which simply meant table or board. Tabula used three dice and players moved their checkers in opposite directions.
Modern Backgammon History
The name backgammon comes from the Saxons, and backgammon games were played throughout Europe from the Middle Ages on. Support for the game wavered from time to time due to its association with gambling. In France, Louis IX passed a prohibition on backgammon, and during the reign of Henry VIII in England, Cardinal Wolsey ordered all backgammon boards be burned. The irony of such edicts is that backgammon was historically regarded as an aristocratic game.
Modern backgammon history really begins in the 18th century, when Edmund Hoyle published definitive rules in his A Short Treatise on the Game of Backgammon. America's biggest contribution to backgammon history came in the 1920s with the introduction of the doubling cube, which heightened the stakes and made backgammon more appealing to gamblers.
With new developments such as Internet play and backgammon software, backgammon history is still being written today.