8 Oldest Board Games in the World - Oldest.org (2023)

People have been playing games in some form since the earliest civilizations first arose over 5,000 years ago. Nearly all of the games on this list were played by the first civilizations such as the Ancient Sumerians (from Mesopotamia) and Ancient Egyptians.

Although the exact rules of these ancient games have been lost, historians have been able to piece together and reconstruct gameplay so people can play them today.

8. Chess

Date Created: c.600 AD
Country of Origin: India, possibly China
Still Played Today: Yes
Number of Players: 2
Other Names: Varies by country

8 Oldest Board Games in the World - Oldest.org (1)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Although most people probably that Chess is an ancient game, compared to all the other board games on this list, it is relatively young. While the exact origins of Chess are unknown, most historians agree that the game originated in India during the Gupta Empire around the 6th century AD — some historians believe it originated in China.

The early form of the game from India was called chaturanga, which featured “four divisions of the military”: infantry, cavalry, elephantry, and chariotry — these game pieces eventually evolved into the modern-day pawn, knight, bishop, and rook, respectively.

Like many early games, the rules of Chess evolved as it spread throughout the world, and the modern rules of the game were formed around the 15th century in Europe.

7. Nine Men’s Morris

Date Created: Unknown, possibly c.1400 BCE
Country of Origin: Unknown, possibly Ancient Egypt
Still Played Today: Yes
Number of Players: 2
Other Names: Nine Man Morris, Mills, The Mill Game, Merels or Merrills, Cowboy Checkers

8 Oldest Board Games in the World - Oldest.org (2)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The game of Nine Men’s Morris is so old that no one knows for sure when and where exactly the game originated. One of the earliest known boards for the game was found “cut onto the roofing slabs of the temple at Kurna in Egypt” dating to around 1400 BCE. However, there is some disagreement over the age of the temple’s slabs.

The game was popular in Ancient Rome as there are many boards carved into Roman buildings, but boards are hard to date due to the buildings’ exposure. Nine Men’s Morris spread across Europe and was a popular game among priests and monks.

Nine Men’s Morris is still widely played today and its rules have not changed much since they were first recorded.

6. Go

Date Created: c.2000 BCE
Country of Origin: Ancient China
Still Played Today: Yes
Number of Players: 2
Other Names: Weiqi, Igo, Paduk, Baduk

8 Oldest Board Games in the World - Oldest.org (3)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Go, known as Weiqi in its country of origin China, is one of the oldest board games in the world that is still largely popular today. Although the games exact origins are unknown, Go is believed to have originated in China sometime around 3,000 – 4,000 years ago.

In place of an exact history, according to legend, Go was created by the ancient Chinese Emperor Yao (2356–2255 BCE) to enlighten his son, Danzhu and teach him discipline, concentration, and balance.

The popularity of Go grew throughout other East Asian countries, especially Japan (which is where the name Go comes from), where the most significant advances in the game’s play were made during the 1670s.

5. Royal Game of Ur

Date Created: c. 2600 – 2400 BCE
Country of Origin: Ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq)
Still Played Today: Yes
Number of Players: 2
Other Names: Game of Twenty Squares or Asseb

8 Oldest Board Games in the World - Oldest.org (4)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Royal Game of Ur, which was played in Ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) is one of civilization’s earliest board games. Two gameboards were found by British archaeologist Sir Charles Leonard Woolley in 1920 while he was excavating the Royal Tombs of Ur – the boards were dated to around 2600 BCE.

Other similar boards of 20 squares have been found at other ancient sites in Egypt, such as Tutankhamen’s tomb, and India.

Historians were able to reconstruct the games rules based on a partial cuneiform tablet from Babylon dating from 177 – 176 BCE. With these rules, modern versions of the game have been released and the game can even be played online at the British Museum’s Mesopotamia website.

4. Mehen

Date Created: c.2700 BCE
Country of Origin: Ancient Egypt
Still Played Today: No
Number of Players: 2 – 6
Other Names: None

8 Oldest Board Games in the World - Oldest.org (5)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Mehen is another board game from Ancient Egypt and it is believed to be the earliest example of a multi-player board game. Evidence of the game dates back to the Predynastic Period through the end of the Old Kingdom —a Mehen gameboard was found in King Peribsen’s tomb, dating back to 2770 – 2650 BCE.

The game is named for Mehen, a snake-god, and the gameboard is shaped like a coiled snake.

The pieces come in two types: small spheres similar to marbles and ivory pieces in the shapes of lions and lionesses. Mehen’s exact rules and gameplay are unknown, but historians believe that up to six people were able to play the game.

3. Backgammon

Date Created: c.3000 BCE
Country of Origin: Ancient Perisa (modern-day Iran)
Still Played Today: Yes
Number of Players: 2
Other Names: Nard, Gul Bara, Tapa

8 Oldest Board Games in the World - Oldest.org (6)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Backgammon is another ancient game that is even older than Chess.

In 2004, archaeologists discovered a gameboard in the ancient city of Shahr-e Sukhteh in Iran resembling the game of Backgammon. The board was dated to around 3000 BCE and is believed to be the oldest Backgammon board ever found. It is made of ebony and features sixty markers made of turquoise and agate, as well as a pair of dice.

The game’s rules changed as it was played in different countries and the oldest game with rules almost identical to modern Backgammon was called “tabula” from the Byzantine Empire in Greece dating back to around 480 AD.

2. Checkers

Date Created: c.3000 BCE
Country of Origin: Ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq)
Still Played Today: Yes
Number of Players: 2
Other Names: Draughts (British English pronounced “drafts”)

8 Oldest Board Games in the World - Oldest.org (7)photo source: publicdomainpictures.net

Checkers also called Draughts is one of the oldest board games in the world that is still played today.

The origins of the game can be traced back to the ancient city of Ur in southern Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), dating back to about 3000 BCE. A game board resembling Checkers with slight variations was carbon dated to this time period.

Over the years, the game evolved as it was introduced to other countries and today, the most popular forms of Checkers are English draughts/American checkers and Russian draughts.

The game has remained popular all around the world and the first World Championship in International draughts began in 1885 and took place in France.

1. Senet

Date Created: c.3500 BCE
Country of Origin: Ancient Egypt
Still Played Today: Yes
Number of Players: 2
Other Names: Senat or Sen’t

8 Oldest Board Games in the World - Oldest.org (8)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Senet is the oldest known board game in the world. It was played in Ancient Egypt and game boards have been found in Predynastic and First Dynasty burials dating as far back as 3500 BCE.

The game’s boards were rectangular slabs made of wood, limestone, or faience (ceramic earthenware made from ground quartz and coated with a brightly colored glaze and featured carved squares and symbols.

Although historians aren’t quite sure how exactly the game was played, Timothy Kendall and R.C. Bell have made their own reconstructions of the game. Kendall and Bell’s rules are based on pieces of texts mentioning Senet and these rules have been adopted by modern senet players.


8 Oldest Arcade Games Ever
9 Oldest MMO Games Ever
10 Oldest Video Games Ever
10 Rarest Board Games Ever
10 Rarest Monopoly Board Games Ever

Spread the love


What is the oldest board game in the world? ›

The Royal Game of Ur is the oldest playable boardgame in the world, originating around 4,600 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia. The game's rules were written on a cuneiform tablet by a Babylonian astronomer in 177 BC.

What was the first board game company? ›

The oldest surviving board game company is Milton Bradley (whose famous games include; Downfall, Hungry Hippos and Connect 4), who were formed in 1860! The Mansion of Happiness was the very first board game to be produced commercially (i.e., on an industrial basis).

What is the oldest board game in America? ›

The board game Traveller's Tour Through the United States and its sister game Traveller's Tour Through Europe were published by New York City bookseller F. & R. Lockwood in 1822 and claim the distinction of being the first board games published in the United States.

Is Chess older than checkers? ›

Checkers "Draughts" around 16th century! Chess in the current format started in the 1500 century in Europe, but we often refer to starting around 450 A.D.

What is the oldest game still played? ›

Go, also known as Wei Qi, is an abstract strategy board game for two players in which the aim is to surround more territory than the opponent. The game was invented in China more than 2,500 years ago and is believed to be the oldest board game continuously played to the present day.

Is Scrabble or Monopoly older? ›

Scrabble Luxury Edition

Scrabble—the granddaddy of board games, two years older than Monopoly—has been reinvented a number of times over the years.

What board game was before Monopoly? ›

The landloard's game” was the precursor of the world famous board game “Monopoly” and it was invented in a claim for social and economic justice by a Quaker woman named Lizzie J. Magie.

What game came before Monopoly? ›

Monopoly is derived from the Landlord's Game, a board game designed and patented by Lizzie G. Magie in 1904. She revised and renewed the patent on her game in 1924.

Why did the Catholic Church ban backgammon? ›

The game continued to be played throughout the latter stages of the last millennium but it had constant battles with authorities and the church who wanted to ban it because of the gambling element.

What is the oldest card game? ›

Karnöffel is a trick-taking card game which probably came from the upper-German language area in Europe in the first quarter of the 15th century. It first appeared listed in a municipal ordinance of Nördlingen, Bavaria, in 1426 among the games that could be lawfully played at the annual city fête.

How old is monopoly? ›

The board game Monopoly has its origin in the early 20th century. The earliest known version, known as The Landlord's Game, was designed by Elizabeth Magie and first patented in 1904, but existed as early as 1902.

What is the oldest board game in England? ›

Unearthing the Oldest Board Game on Record

Analysts estimated that the highly decorated boards, made of wood, inlaid shell and lapis lazuli, were made between 2,600-2,400 B.C., making the Royal Game of Ur the oldest complete tabletop game ever discovered.

What is the most famous board game in the world? ›

What is the most played board game in the world? Monopoly has been played by more than 500 million people worldwide. The game was invented in 1934 by Charles B. Darrow of Pennsylvania, USA, and more than 200 million games have been sold.

What was the 1st ever game? ›

The earliest known publicly demonstrated electronic game was created in 1950. Bertie the Brain was an arcade game of tic-tac-toe, built by Josef Kates for the 1950 Canadian National Exhibition.

Is Mancala the oldest game in the world? ›

Mancala is one of the oldest known two-player board games in the world, believed to have been created in ancient times. There is archeological and historical evidence that dates Mancala back to the year 700 AD in East Africa.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Tuan Roob DDS

Last Updated: 08/24/2023

Views: 6153

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (62 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Tuan Roob DDS

Birthday: 1999-11-20

Address: Suite 592 642 Pfannerstill Island, South Keila, LA 74970-3076

Phone: +9617721773649

Job: Marketing Producer

Hobby: Skydiving, Flag Football, Knitting, Running, Lego building, Hunting, Juggling

Introduction: My name is Tuan Roob DDS, I am a friendly, good, energetic, faithful, fantastic, gentle, enchanting person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.