History of Bowling

The Fascinating History of Bowling, Explained

Are you wondering, “where did bowling begin?”

As a sport, bowling offers a lot of skill and leverage. It stands out as a fun pastime with friends and family. You send the ball through the alley to hit the pins standing at the end.

Despite what this target sport offers, it also has an interesting history. One that traces back to ancient times.

Bowling is one of the sports that came to life thanks to the discovery of ancient records. It went through centuries as it shaped up through various developments. Look at the history of bowling and dive through what made this beloved sport what it is today below.

Earliest Records in Ancient History

When looking at the origins of bowling, you can see the earliest records trace back to Ancient Egypt. The earliest depictions were wall drawings found on a tomb from Egypt that dates back to 5200 BC.

Another interesting sighting of this is in an Egyptian child’s grave, dated to 5200 BC. This one had miniature pins and balls.

Another discovery surfaced back in 1895 in Naqada, Egypt. In this case, it involved the sight of various pieces that resemble other games. Among these include balls made of porphyry and a miniature trilithon. It also featured about nine alabaster vase-shaped figures.

The whole set resembled a different game called skittles. A somewhat similar game also came about within the Roman Empire. It was popular among Legionnaires.

This dates back around 2000 years ago. It involved the tossing of stone objects against other stone objects. This soon became the Italian game known as Bocce.

Bowling and Its German Roots

Moving from Ancient Egypt and Rome, we turn our attention to Germany. This time, another form of this sport also appeared within their grasp. In this case, we look at the game called Kegel.

At around 300-400 CE, the game began as a form of ritual cleansing. Most of the people during that time carried these pin-like clubs called “Kegels.” They had it with them for protection and sport.

What people would do to pardon themselves of sin is to erect the pin-shaped rods. After which, they have them toppled over by bowling.

For that ritual, the Kegels represented the heathen. Knocking them over would be a sign of purification and pardon. This made the game bear a religious significance during that time.

How Bowling Surfaced in England

The game also surfaced in England. Among the earliest known evidence of the sport is the form of an antique bowling green. This one was in Southampton, dating back to 1299.

Even so, it was a game of choice among the people in England. Another related account on bowling also came up in 1366.

King Henry the Third banned the sport. This was due to how it distracted the archers from their archery practice. This was the first mention of bowling in historical records.

As an aside, lawn bowling continued to flourish in other areas in Europe. From the 15th to 17th centuries, lawn bowling flourished and spread from Germany. It carried on towards Austria, Switzerland, and the Low Countries.

Within the 1400s, bowling reemerged with the ban lifted. This time, lawn bowling lanes now have roofs. This turned it into an indoor pastime, and a sport played during inclement weather.

By 1511, it faced another ban from King Henry VIII. This time, the plan was to make bowling a sport for the wealthy.

This ban prevented the lower classes from bowling at all. Later years came about with more laws involving the sport.

Renowned bowling figures include Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant Reformation. Another notable figure is Sir Francis Drake, the English Vice-Admiral.

The game used 3 to 17 pins. The ball size also varied. The goal was to topple down as many pins as possible.

How Bowling Came to America

The sport came to America thanks to the arrival of the German, Dutch, and British settlers. One of the earliest depictions recorded of the game was from 1670. This involved Dutchmen playing a version of the game in New York.

It appeared in American literature Rip Van Winkle published by Washington Irving. It was here that Rip described the sound of “crashing nine pins” while he watched the apparitions of old Dutchmen.

In the 1820s, gambling stood out as the go-to stress-reliever. It soon became a vice that many workers indulge in.

Bowling halls were the center stage for this practice. This led to its temporary ban, and it caused bowling to get outlawed in some states.

By the 19th century, variations of bowling surfaced thanks to mixed cultures in America. It was due to this reason that the sport needed a universal set of rules to unify and standardize the game. The American Bowling Congress was then established in 1895.

More interesting changes came to be with this sport. This time, you have both men and women participating in bowling. Along with this, outdoor alleys now moved indoors.

The gambling influences vanished, making it a socially acceptable sport. In 1907, the first women’s informal National Women’s Tournament came to pass. This paved the way for the formation of the Women’s International Bowling Congress in 1917.

The Sport at Present

Many interesting bowling facts came to pass as it pushed on to the modern-day. One thing to note is that bowling gained popularity within the 20th Century.

Bowling hit national television in the 1950s on NBC with its first broadcast of “Championship Bowling.” In 1958, the Professional Bowlers Association came into existence with 4300 members in 14 countries.

It was the favored pastime for many Presidents, such as Presidents Harry Truman and Richard Nixon. It also became an Olympic sport in 1988 and onward.

Now You Know the History of Bowling

Discovering the history of bowling revealed how ancient this sport is. As a pastime, it is a fun game to play with people close to you. It can also be a competitive sport that tests your accuracy and leverage.

For bowling alleys to come to life, we have the equipment to make that possible. Ready to start bowling? Contact us today, and we can help you get started with all the equipment you need.

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