How old is Backgammon?

The question of how old is backgammon is a truly difficult one to answer. It is thought that backgammon dates back some 5000 years, in some form or another this game has been played for centuries.

One of the earliest backgammon boards was discovered by archaeologists in Iraq, known at the time as Mesopotamia. The discovery in the 1920’s highlights how the game similar to backgammon could have been played by communities throughout history.

Where is Backgammon from?

Now we’ve answered the question of how old is backgammon, it’s now important to highlight were backgammon is thought to be from. There’s no precise answer as it appears to have been played all over the world in various forms…

It’s thought that backgammon originated not far from Troy; this is what is now known today as Anatolia, Turkey. Although its earliest ancestors may have come from Mesopotamia, Sumer to be precise.

The concept of dice games may feel rather odd 5,000 years ago however it was quite a regular practice with tribal priests rolling the dice made from animal bones.

The dice themselves took many forms but the 6-sided dice became one of the most popular and very little has changed with them today.

The Discovery Of Backgammon

In the 1920’s a British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley was in modern-day Iraq excavating Ur of the Chaldees. One of his discoveries was several artefacts that looked remarkably like a modern-day backgammon board, decorated using mosaics including stones, rocks and black paste.

It wasn’t long until more boards of this style were discovered but this time it was in Mesopotamia and it included the playing pieces and like today’s backgammon there were two sets of stones one in each colour.

The history of backgammon doesn’t end there though; Egypt also appears to have enjoyed a version over the years as well with another set being discovered in King Tut’s tomb with paintings discovered of people of all social classes in ancient Egypt playing with dice and board.

So ultimately the question of how old is backgammon and where is backgammon from is truly a difficult answer to pinpoint.

Our Backgammon Sets

Since 1961 Geoffrey Parker has been handmaking our luxury leather backgammon boards. While our backgammon sets have not been being made for 5000 years they have been hand-crafted just like the ones in ancient Mesopotamia would have been.

In ancient Iraq, Egypt and Turkey the boards would have been decorated elaborately; crafted as a work of art and played with friends, business partners and family. So, while we may be 5000 years on very little has changed with this game, it’s still played and loved by people from all walks of life.

Backgammon a great pastime

As you can see backgammon has been played throughout the centuries by a wide range of cultures from ancient Egypt, Rome and even India. It’s no wonder this game has maintained its popularity throughout the years. 

Today backgammon offers the luxury of time, with friends, family and opponents. It’s an opportunity to switch off from work and technology and enjoy a game that has been played by men and women for as far back as we remember.  When the backgammon sets that were discovered were being used the world was a very different place but through the pursuit of competition and probability we still enjoy the game of backgammon.


How Old Is Backgammon?

Paintings have also been discovered in ancient Rome. While we can’t be sure they are playing backgammon it is highly likely as the game spread across the world. In the image it appears there are two players and two spectators.