According to the International Museum of Bowling, a British anthropologist named Sir Flinders Petrie discovered a “crude form of bowling” in an ancient Egyptian tomb. He discovered these objects in the 1930s in a child’s tomb. If his observations are correct, then bowling started in about 3,200 B.C., making it about 5,000 years old. The Encyclopedia Britannica clarifies that the objects found were nine pieces of stone (pins) and a stone ball. The ball apparently was thrown towards the pins, passing through an archway made of three pieces of marble.
Here’s another version of the early history of bowling to consider. Herodotus claimed that bowling was the invention of Lydians in Asia Minor. About 2,000 years ago, Roman legionaries began tossing stone objects at other stone objects. This game involved into Italian Bocce, or outdoor bowling.
A German historian (Willian Pehle), though, says his country invented the game in about 300 A.D. Again, we gain more details from the encyclopedia – and, apparently bowling wasn’t intended for fun. Instead, it was a religious ceremony held in church cloisters. Ancient Germans placed their Kegel (a club carried for sport and protection) at the end of a runway. It represented sin. When they threw a ball at their Kegels and they toppled over, they believed themselves cleansed of that sin. In 1325, gambling on bowling was limited to five shillings in some German cities. In Frankfurt, a venison feast in 1463 was followed by bowling.In 1518, an ox was given to a competition winner. Even Martin Luther was said to have built a bowling lane for his children, and sometimes he threw the first ball of a game.
By 1366, bowling was most likely a popular game in England, as King Edward III supposedly banned his troops from playing it – and it was almost certainly a popular game during the reign of King Henry VIII (1509-1547). Various versions of bowling made their way to America, as English, Dutch and German settlers introduced their varieties.
Here’s what we want to know! In their written history of bowling, why doesn’t anyone mention Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble’s team? By watching this video alone, we know that bowling balls in prehistoric times weren’t perfect round and sometimes lobbed in mid-air. We know that monkeys used their tails to serve as pinsetters, and much more. And what’s up with that tippy-toed approach of Fred’s?!? Enjoy!