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Historical Context

We find evidence of games being played long before the beginning of the Middle Ages. Pharaoh Tutankhamun had at least one board game in his tomb. There is evidence of gambling games with dice long before the Middle Ages.

Medieval illustrations show games such as chess, checkers (also known as draughts) and backgammon being played. Pieces for those games and pieces and boards for games like fox and geese and nine-man's morris have been found in archeological digs. Card games seem to have been a much later development, coming into view during the Renaissance. Early sets of cards were not standard in number or suites, and those made for the higher classes richly painted.

Children in the Middle Ages also played games. There is a Breughel painting from the late 16th century that shows children playing games, and some of those that are recognizable are: leap-frog, sitting astride a railing and pretending to be riding a horse, rolling with a hoop, hanging upside down on a vertical bar, blindman's bluff, children riding piggyback, and so forth.





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