Roman game board

A bigger picture

Board games are known from a wide range of cultures across the world. They often have purposes beyond passing the time and amusement. Snakes and ladders was intended to teach about the Indian philosophical concept of karma. Boards and pieces for the Egyptian game senet are often found in tombs and may not be simple pastimes for the afterlife, but may symbolise the journey through life and to the afterlife.

The Royal Game of Ur from Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq)

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The ancient Egyptian game of senet

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The ancient Indian game of pachisi

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The Lewis chess pieces

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Mancala, which probably originated in East Africa and is now played around the world.

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Roman game board