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Ancient Roman Fun and Games. By: Lianna DeBor. A few popular games in ancient Rome…. Tali Tesserae Tabula Mancala Latrunculi. Tali Knucklebones. Gambling Game.  sheep or goat knucklebones.

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ancient roman fun and games

Ancient Roman Fun and Games

By: Lianna DeBor

a few popular games in ancient rome
A few popular games in ancient Rome…
  • Tali
  • Tesserae
  • Tabula
  • Mancala
  • Latrunculi
tali knucklebones
Tali Knucklebones

Gambling Game

sheep or goat


Also made from brass, silver, gold, ivory, marble, wood, bone, bronze, glass, terracotta, and precious gems

Four sides; each with a 1, 3, 4 or 6 on it

 Found in Pompeii

tali continued
Tali Continued
  • 1st two are glass

3rd is lead

Four Tali dropped from a moderate height onto a table or the ground. Score came from side facing up.

There are three scoring methods for Tali: - Simple - Senio - Extended

Each getting a bit more intricate

  • Found in Athens

Numbers on dice arranged so that only 2 opposite sides would equal 7

Shaken in a cup then tossed

Bets were placed

The government restricted gambling because it became such a problem; so people started playing gambling games secretly



Tabula was one of the games primarily responsible for the gambling problem in Rome.

tabula rules
Tabula rules

Each player has 15 round playing chips

Pieces enter from square 1 and travel counter clockwise

3 dice are thrown, three numbers determine movements between 1 and 3 pieces

Player must use whole value of throw if possible

If player lands on a spot that already has one of the opponents pieces on it, the opponent’s piece was removed from the board and had to re-enter from square 1

If a player has 2 or more pieces on a spot the opponent can not capture their pieces, the spot was ‘closed’ to the opponent

Can not enter 2nd half of board ‘till all pieces have entered the board

No piece may exit the board until all pieces enter last quarter of board


Race game, Trying to get the most stones in your big square

Oldest board game of all

  • Common Mancala board

Most popular thinking game

Name comes from latrones meaning mercenaries, referring to soldiers

 Most common size; 8 by 12