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History of backgammon

Backgammon Board Backgammon is one of the most ancient gambling games. Its roots go way back to Mesopotamia 3000BC. There, in the ancient Kingdom of Ur, relics of The Royal Games of Ur were excavated by archeologists from Britain and Pennsylvania. These artifacts resembled the boards of "Senat", a game from which backgammon finally developed. "Senat" has migrated to the Roman Empire by merchants and there it was adopted by the eager gamers of the Roman people.

'Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum" was the roman name for this early version of backgammon, The Game of Twelve Lines, and versions of this game date back to 600AD. In its early form the game was consisted from 3X12 lines, later, in 1st century AD, it was modified to 2X12 lines, similar to the backgammon of today, the game gained much popularity and we favored by Emperor Claudius, who wrote in 50AD a literary piece about the game's history. The literary work didn't survive during the Middle Ages. In the first Century the conquering forces of the Roman Empire brought the game to England, where it was named "Tabula". In the 6th century the game's names was changed once again to "Alea", which is another step in the evolution of modern backgammon.

The first mentioning of the game in England was in The Codex Exoniensis, a manuscript compiled by Bishop Leofric, who gave it to Exeter Cathedral. The literary work spoke of many Old English religious and secular poetry. The game was referred as "Tables" or "Nard". The game was popular among the upper class, but its gambling nature draw many in a short period of time.

The first time the game was referred as "backgammon" was in 1645, at that time it was played with two dices. The exact source of the name is yet unknown since "backgammon" is a combination of two words, "back" and "gammon", which have many interpretations in many languages. The most accepted theory claims that it means "little battle", a meaning derived from the Welsh words "bac" and "gammon".

The first official set of laws was entered by Edmond Hoyle in 1743, in the publication of his "Treatise on Backgammon". In 1931 the rules were modified again, with no change till this day. The doubling cube was inserted in the 1920's in New York, which cause to a rise in the game's popularity. Over the next decades many books were written about backgammon, official contests were introduced and the online backgammon came to life.

Alan Watts, Chief of editorial staff, 26.11.05