Gambling is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world. It originates from ancient times. However, gambling games were played in another way than we know them today. People didn’t just have fun and earn money by playing games, but put special meaning into them. Let’s talk about the origins of gambling and its importance in the life of ancient civilizations.
In Ancient Egypt, gambling was already at the beginning of the formation of civilization, and its emergence was associated with the activities of the Gods. In particular, the invention of gambling was attributed to Thoth – the God of magic, wisdom, and knowledge, as well as the patron of libraries and scientists. According to the legends, he came up with a 365-day calendar by playing dice.
Over the years, archaeologists have found a lot of evidence of the popularity of gambling in ancient Egypt. The most popular games were Tiau, Mehen, and Senet. The rules of these games are not known exactly, but thanks to the fragments that have survived, one can guess how they were played.
Mehen is a kind of Egyptian roulette. A ball was thrown onto a disc with holes so that it moved along a certain trajectory and could stop anywhere. Alongside balls, various animal figurines were also used. So, this is not a roulette similar to those reviewed on the website. The other games were:
- Tiau is a game with a board and various figures, similar to modern chess. It is also called “20 squares” – that is how many squares were on the playing field. This game could be carried and played anywhere – the board with the figure compartment was quite compact.
- Senet was somewhat similar to checkers. The field for the game consisted of 30 squares arranged in 3 rows of 10. Figures similar to modern pawns were used.
Researchers are convinced that gambling games in China date back to the 2300s BC. They began to gain great popularity during the reign of the Xia dynasty. Ancient China is considered the birthplace of card games. The first playing cards were invented here. Later, the modern look of the deck with images of jacks, queens, and kings was presented to the world by the Persians.
The world of gambling is also thankful to China for the invention of the Keno lottery. This kind of entertainment was invented by Emperor Chung Leung in the 2nd century BC to replenish the state treasury. But the game turned out to be so popular that it helped to feed the army, win a war, and even build the Great Wall of China.
In Greek mythology, even the creation of the world was associated with gambling. It says that Poseidon, Zeus, and Hades came together and cast lots to divide the world among themselves. Zeus got the sky, Poseidon – the sea, and Hades – the underworld. Thus, through the game of dice, the Gods determined their spheres of influence.
Dice were not only a method for resolving controversial issues but also a wonderful tool for playing, which the ancient Greeks were very fond of. They believed that the outcome of a dice game depends not on the usual probability or the player’s luck, but on the gods and fate.
The beginning of the Olympic Games caused the emergence and popularity of sweepstakes. Almost everyone who had at least some money placed bets on the outcome of the competition and the victory of one or another athlete.
Since antiquity, gambling has been extremely transformed, and the assortment of games has been replenished with new entertainment. What is your favorite gambling game? Tell us in the comments.