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Bowling: From Ancient Egypt to Contemporary America

One of the most popular sports today, bowling, has a surprisingly long history. In modern bowling, players roll a weighted ball down a 60-foot lane to knock down ten pins which are arranged in a triangular formation.

Due, perhaps, to its relative simplicity, bowling enjoys enormous popularity. According to estimates, 100 million people worldwide play the game regularly, including 70 million in the US alone.

A Pharaonic Pastime

While bowling is typically associated with contemporary America, its history can be traced back thousands of years. An Egyptian tomb from 5,200 BC contains wall paintings that appear to depict the game, while the remains of ancient bowling balls and pins have been found in Egyptian graves from 3,200 BC.

What’s more, during the Roman Empire (about 2,000 years ago), Roman legionaries developed a game in which large rocks were tossed at stationary stone objects. This later evolved into bocce, an Italian game believed to be an early precursor of modern bowling.

Bowling Today

Bowling is now widely recognized as a serious sport, and several major events are held every year. The most well-known of these is the World Tenpin Bowling Championship, which draws competitive bowlers worldwide.

In 2015, bowling came within a hair’s breadth of becoming an official Olympic sport. However, it was ultimately left out of the 2020 Summer Olympics due to the exceptionally high cost of building Olympic-size bowling facilities.