History of Bowling

A Chronological Series of Events

From 3200 BC to Present

World Book Encyclopedia – More Americans compete in bowling than in any other sport.  If you don’t know, the object of the game is to roll a ball down a wooden lane to knock down pins, though that’s really only one way to play out of many.  There are other forms of bowling, including ninepins, fivepins, duckpins, candlepins, lawn bowling, and bocce ball.

Bowling has a long and rich history, and today is one of the most popular sports in the world. According to the International Bowling Museum, British anthropologist, Sir Flinders Petrie, discovered in the 1930’s a collection of objects in a child’s grave in Egypt that appeared to him to be used for a crude form of bowling. If he was correct, then bowling traces its ancestry to 3200 BC. A German historian, William Pehle, asserted that bowling began in his country about 300 AD.

There is substantial evidence that a form of bowling was in vogue in England in 1366, when King Edward III, King of England 1327-1377, allegedly outlawed it to keep his troops focused on archery practice. It is almost certain that bowling was popular during the reign of Henry VIII.

By this time, too, there were many variations of “pin” games, and also of games where a ball was thrown at objects other than pins. This would seem to imply that the games had developed over time, from an earlier period.

One of the most eccentric games is still found in Edinburgh. The player swings a fingerless ball between his legs and heaves it at the pins. In doing so, he “flops” onto the lane on his stomach. There were and still are many variations of ninepins in Western Europe. Likely related are the Italian bocce, the French petanque, and British lawn bowling.