Ancient Greek and Roman Games
open book

These are the sources cited in the Ancient Greek and Roman section of the website. If you're curious, they have more details about the games described here as well as other interesting games.

I've also included a list of other helpful books about games and some books about life in general in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Many of them were written for kids, but I recommend those books for adults, too. For one thing, kids' books are good for getting an introduction to a topic, and for another, they include more pictures. Pictures are not only good for getting a better understanding of what the book is talking about, but they're great for planning costumes for a party.

Hope you've enjoyed the games and the site!

Bibliography

Bell, R.C. Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1979.

This was one of my main sources for information about the history of board games. It's a combined edition of two volumes. It has information on a wide variety of board games, not just ones played in Ancient Greece and Rome. It gives rules for some of the games but not all. For the ones that Bell didn't provide rules for in this book, I used his other book, The Boardgame Book.

Bell, R.C. The Boardgame Book. New York: Exeter Books, 1983.

This book not only gives historical information about games from various periods of history and different parts of the world and rules for playing them but also provides an insert containing pieces for playing on the game boards depicted in the book. There was another game in this book which could have applied to this site called "To Bed with Venus" with re-created rules, but I decided that the subject matter was a little too risque. Bell is generally an authoritative source for information on the history of board games, but I do have one complaint: When he provides rules for games, he isn't always as explicit as he could be. From his descriptions, there are certain points that aren't completely clear. I think it may be because these are very old games with re-created rules and there may be some points that the scholarly re-creations never settled.

Botermans, Jack. The Book of Games. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2007.

This book bothered me a little because it has no list of consulted sources and because some reviews that I've read about the book claim that some of the information he provides is wrong. They weren't scholarly reviews, just readers' reviews, but it was enough to make me concerned, especially since Botermans doesn't provide a bibliography so that I could check his research.

So, why did I use it as a source if I had reservations about it? Because it did help clarify some points in Duodecim Scriptorum for me. I consider Bell's description to be the more authoritative of the two (and actually believe it was probably one of Botermans's original sources as well because much of the information he provides is the same), but Bell left some points rather vague, such as which side of the board belongs to which player at the beginning and exactly how the dice rolls determine where the players should place their places on their home spaces. Do the players put their pieces on the right or the left from the player's point of view? Bell doesn't explicitly say, but Botermans says that the players' home spaces should be to each player's right. Do they place their pieces three at a time according to the three dice they roll or can they add dice rolls together as they do when moving the pieces after they are placed? Boterman's explanations seemed reasonable and didn't contradict any of Bell's important points, so I decided that it was alright to include them for clarification purposes.

So, for the most part, Bell was my main source, but I used Botermans to settle some points that weren't clear from other sources. When in doubt, I sided with Bell. If anyone could suggest a better source for this information, please let me know. If you're looking for information for a scholarly report, I would recommend the Bell books over this one because he cites his sources and his research is more solid, even if his explanations still leave something to be desired. If you use Botermans at all, I recommend using it only as a minor source as I've done. Botermans does do a better job of providing examples and discussing strategy than Bell and may be useful for clarifying certain points, but be sure to check his information against other sources.

It occurs to me that some of his "inaccuracies" may be because he was trying to fill in gaps left because the rules for these games weren't entirely complete in the scholarly re-creations he consulted and he was trying to make the games more playable for the average reader, but I'm not entirely sure.

Burns, Brian, ed. The Encyclopedia of Games. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1998.

This book has a wide variety of games, grouped by game type. It's mostly a general reference about how games are played with mostly a modern focus, but there is some historical information about games as well.

Finley, M.I. The Ancient Greeks. New York: Penguin Books, 1964.

This is a general history of Ancient Greece and its achievements.

Grunfeld, Frederic V., ed. Games of the World. New York: Ballantine Books, 1975.

This book has both historical information about games from different periods of history and different areas of the world and also gives information on how to make and play the games.

McGeough, Kevin M. The Romans: New Perspectives. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2004.

This book explains the history and culture of Ancient Rome, including information on politics, religion, and various aspects of daily life such as marriage and family life, transportation, business, and objects used in daily life. Each section has its own bibliography, and there is a chronology in the back. My only complaint is that I wish there were more pictures of the objects the author describes.

Mellor, Ronald and Marni McGee. The Ancient Roman World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

This book describes the history of Ancient Rome and gives information about emperors and other famous Romans. There is also some information about the lives of ordinary people. There is a timeline of important events in the back of the book.

Parlett, David. The Oxford History of Board Games. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1999.

This book provides detailed historical background for many different board games from different periods of history and areas of the world.

Ancient Greek Life and History

Baker, Rosalie F. and Charles F. Baker III. Ancient Greeks. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

This book, written by the editors of CALLIOPE: The World History Magazine for Young People, contains short biographies of famous Ancient Greeks, organized by the periods in which they lived. It also offers a timeline of events in Greek history from 1000 B.C. to 212 B.C. and lists of further resources on related topics.

Pearson, Anne. Ancient Greece. New York: DK Publishing, Inc., 2004.

This is an Eyewitness Book. Eyewitness Books are designed for kids and have plenty of pictures. This one describes the history of Ancient Greece and various aspects of daily life, including science and medicine, music, Greek mythology, clothing (including explanations of how to make and wear a chiton, a kind of loose-fitting gown/tunic (depending on length) worn by both men and women), food, travel, houses, and some information about games. All the sections have pictures of everyday objects from Ancient Greece and Greek artwork. The section on games includes a picture of a sculpture of two girls playing Knucklebones and a spinning top.

Powell, Anton, Dr. and Sean Sheehan. Ancient Greece. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2003.

This book discusses the history and culture of Ancient Greece with some information about daily life. There are plenty of pictures and maps to illustrate the geographical areas and topics under each section. The book also opens with a timeline of historical events, art styles, and developments in language, science, and culture.

Ancient Roman Life and History

James, Simon. Ancient Rome. New York: DK Publishing, Inc., 2004.

This is an Eyewitness Book. Eyewitness Books are designed for kids and have plenty of pictures. This one describes various aspects of daily life in Ancient Rome, including family life, houses, baths, medicine, music, and various forms of entertainment. There isn't a separate section about clothing, but different types of clothing are shown in other sections. Particularly, the section that describes different types of citizens in Rome shows types of men's clothing, and the section about the lives of women show women's dresses. The section about the baths also has some information about games and picutres of playing pieces and dice. All the sections have pictures of everyday objects from Ancient Rome and Roman artwork.

Jovinelly, Joann and Jason Netelkos. The Crafts and Culture of the Romans. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2002.

This is a children's book with information about the history of Ancient Rome and what daily life was like in Ancient Rome. There are a number of craft projects to accompany the history lessons including how to make and wear a toga and laurel crown, working with mosaic tiles, and making a wax tablet (wax tablets were used for writing down temporary messages like practice lessons in school) and amphora vessel.

Matz, David. Daily Life of the Ancient Romans. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002.

This book covers various aspects of daily life in Ancient Rome including food, housing, family life, sports, religion, and holidays and leisure activities. The section on leisure activities includes information about games including Latrunculi, Duodecim Scriptorum, and dice games. It does explain the rules for the games in-depth but it does give a basic description of the games and some historical information about them. The section on food also describes some famous Roman dinner parties. The section on family life also describes clothing. Each section has a list of references at the end.

Helpful Links About Ancient Greece

Here are some links to sites that discuss life in Ancient Greece and games that were played there.

Ancient Greeks: Growing up in Greece

This is a BBC site about what it was like to be young in Ancient Greece, including education, toys, and what they could look forward to later in life in work and marriage. There is a note that the page is now archived and will no longer be updated (July 2017).

Ancient Olympic Games

This site explains the history of the Olympic games, which I don't discuss here because I don't discuss athletic games.

Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Games

This is a section of the J. Paul Getty Museum website about an exhibit on Ancient Greece. This part of the site talks about games played in Ancient Greece, and there are links to other aspects of daily life in Ancient Greece.

Daily Life in Ancient Greece

This is a school website with information about daily life in Ancient Greece and links to other sites with information. The sidebar also offers links to other information and interactive activities.

What was it like to live in an ancient Greek family?

This is part of the BBC site with bitesize articles about aspects of Ancient Greek life, including a section about the toys that children played with.

Helpful Links About Ancient Rome

Here are some links to sites that discuss life in Ancient Rome and games that were played there.

Ancient Rome: Food, Jobs, and Daily Life

This is a site for kids that describes what life was like in Ancient Rome, including what a typical day was like, typical jobs that Romans might have, what they ate, and what they wore. There aren't many pictures, but there are links to related topics at the bottom of the page.

Athletics, Leisure, and Entertainment in Ancient Rome

This is an article that briefly describes various forms of entertainment in Ancient Rome.

Murderous Games: Gladiatorial Contests in Ancient Rome

This is an article about gladiators, originally published in History Today.

Roman Daily Life

This is an article about life in Ancient Rome, including food, family life, types of housing, and the cultural makeup of the city of Rome itself.

Roman Daily Life

This is a site for kids describing a typical day for someone living in Ancient Rome.

Roman Entertainment and Games

This site briefly describes games and other forms of entertainment in Ancient Rome. It has some pictures and links to related topics.

What Was Daily Life Like in Rome?

This is a site for kids which walks them through a typical day for someone living in Ancient Rome.

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