What Board Games Were in Ancient Rome?

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By Monica Bates

Board games have been around for centuries, and ancient Rome was no exception. The Romans had several board games that they played in their leisure time.

These games were not just a form of entertainment but were also used to educate children and adults alike. Let’s take a look at some of the popular board games that were played in ancient Rome.


One of the most popular board games in ancient Rome was Latrunculi, also known as Ludus Latrunculorum. This game was played on a square board with 8×8 squares, similar to a chessboard.

The game was played using black and white pieces, with each player having 13 pieces. The objective of the game was to capture all of your opponent’s pieces or immobilize them so they couldn’t make any moves.


Another popular board game in ancient Rome was Tabula, also known as Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum or “game of twelve markings”. This game was played on a board with three rows of 12 markings each, and each player had 15 pieces. The objective of the game was to move your pieces across the board and bear them off before your opponent does.


Tali, also known as Tesserae or “knucklebones”, was not exactly a board game but rather a game played with four-sided dice made from animal bones. The dice had different markings on each side, and players would throw them onto a table or other surface and score points based on which side landed face-up. Tali was often played by soldiers during their downtime.


These are just some examples of the many board games that were played in ancient Rome. These games were not only entertaining but also served as an educational tool for teaching strategy, critical thinking, and problem-solving. It’s fascinating to see how these ancient games have evolved and influenced modern board games that we play today.