Roman Games

Games were a very important part of the Ancient Roman times.

Children and adults all enjoyed playing games.  Sometimes, the games were very intense such as gladiator games, while there were other games that children loved to play.


Childhood Games

Ancient Roman children loved to play games and they had games called Battledore, which was similar to badminton.  This game would be where the children would hit a pinecone or another round thing with flat paddles and would get points.

Another game was when the children would use a game board and would throw pebbles and pick up sticks.

Ancient Roman children would play games that were similar to hockey, basketball and baseball.

Children and adults loved to play a dice game that was called Knucklebones.  This was a game that had five or ten small bones and they would get points depending on how the bones landed on the ground.

A game called tali was similar to jacks that we play today.

Board Games

Children and young adults would often get together and play board games.  Many of the board games are similar to games that we play today.

One game called Latrunculi was a game that was similar to how we play chess, today.

Tabula was a game that was just like backgammon and other games included Terni Lapilli which was tic-tac-toe and other board games where the pieces would be made by hand out of clay or wood.

Sport Games

Another popular thing was sport games.  It was during Ancient Roman times that sports were very popular.  Some of the most popular sports were wrestling, jumping, racing, boxing, swimming and more.

Most of the time, girls and women did not play any type of sports game and most of these things were left to the men and boys.


Swimming was considered a sport or a game and children from all over the area would get together in different places such as the river or at the roman baths and would swim.

Even some women and girls learned to swim during these times.

Many of the people that swam would have water races and see who could swim the fastest and the best.

Ball Games

Ball games were another popular thing during Ancient Roman times.  Most of the ball games involved balls that were made out of pig bladders or other materials.

The balls would be used in soccer, hockey, catching and even hitting the ball.

Some of the people in Ancient Rome would learn to play dodge ball where they would throw the ball and the other team would dodge it.  Both men and women participated in ball games.

Facts About Ancient Roman Games:

  • The dice would have pictures on them of paintings or pictures that were hanging on walls.
  • Dice were used to place bets and to gamble.
  • Some of the games that were played in Ancient Rome were first played in Ancient Egypt.
  • One game called Knucklebones were made of sheep and goat bones, but they were also made form glass, metals, gems and wood.
  • Marbles was a popular Ancient Roman game called Nux which meant nuts.
  • Tic-tac-toe was played on a rota board which was a three in a row wheel where players would try to get there three in a row before another player won.
  • In dice games, rolling three sixes was called a “Venus,” after the goddess of love and was a lucky roll.
  • Dice games were played during the time of Pompeii.
  • Gambling was a big thing in Ancient Roman times and many people would win money while betting on their dice.
  • Some men would try to cheat at dice so they could win other people’s money.
  • Most of the time, only the wealthy had board games.
  • Poor families had some toys but most of them did not own a board game.
  • Hopscotch was a game that was played during Ancient Roman times and it was meant to strengthen the people. This was even played by soldiers so they could learn to be agile and strong.

What Did You Learn?

  1. Did Ancient Romans play board games?    Ancient Roman board games were very popular.
  2. What is similar to what people do for fun now? There are many similar board games that the Ancient Romans played that we play now.
  3. Did all children own board games?   The wealthier children owned board games and the poorer children did not.
  4. What other games were played during Ancient Roman times? Children and adults played other games such as ball games, sport games and more.
  5. Did both boys and girls play sports? Most of the time only boys and men played sports.
  6. What sport is considered a game of Ancient Roman times that we do now? Swimming was considered a game during Ancient Roman times.
  7. Who swam? Both boys and girls swam during Ancient Roman times.
  8. Did the Ancient Romans play ball games?   The Ancient Romans played many types of ball games.
  9. Did both men and women play ball games in Ancient Rome?   Men and women both played ball games in Ancient Roman times.