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Backgammon History

The History of backgammon

Backgammon is an ancient gambling game which millions of people play every day without knowing the honorable legacy of it. The history of backgammon goes back to ancient Mesopotamia 3000BC, which is located in Southeast Asia between two rivers - the Tigris river and the Euphrates river.

There, in the antique Kingdom of Ur, ruins of The Royal Games of Ur were excavated by archeologists from Britain and Pennsylvania. These artifacts resembled the boards of 'Senat', a close relative of backgammon. 'Senat' has moved to the Roman Empire by merchantmen and there it was accepted by the keen gamers of the Roman Nation.

'Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum' was the roman given name for this historical version of backgammon, 'The Game of Twelve Lines' in Latin, and variants of this game date to 600AD. In its premature outline the game was consisted from 3 on 12 lines.

Later, in the first century, it was customized to 2 on 12 lines, alike to the backgammon which is played nowadays. The game received much popularity and was favored by Claudius, the Roman Emperor, who wrote in the year 50 a scroll about the history of backgammon.

Unfortunately the scroll didn't survive the dark times of the Middle Ages. The victorious forces of the Roman Empire transported the game with them to England, where it was given the name 'Tabula'. The game's name was altered once again to 'Alea' after few centuries.

The first refer to backgammon was in 'Codex Exoniensis', a script written by Bishop Leofric, who handed it to Exeter Cathedral. The literary work spoke of Old English religious and secular poetry songs. The game was referred to as 'Nard'.

The first time in history that the game was named 'backgammon' was in 1645. The precise source of the name 'backgammon' is yet unidentified since 'backgammon' is a mixture of two sounds, 'back' and 'gammon', which have many explanations in many languages. The most accepted hypothesis claims that it means 'little battle'', derived from the Welsh words 'gammon' and 'bac'.

The first authorized set of laws was written down by Edmond Hoyle in 1743, in his journal - 'Treatise on Backgammon'. In the year 1931 the backgammon rules were modified again, with no change till this day. The doubling die was presented in 1920's in New York City.

Surprisingly at the same time other games received much attention as well. The first decades of the 19th century were the golden age of gambling games such as poker, bingo and slots. Such games have boosted their popular level along the 20's and 30's and later on during the 80's as well.

Later on at the history of backgammon the doubling cube was invented, giving backgammon a tremendous push over the next few years. Over the next decades many books were written about backgammon, official tournaments were commenced. Today backgammon is very common and you can find many online version of it in many backgammon sites.

Josh Wilson, Editorial Staff 9/1/06

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