Do you want to learn more about the history of bowling? Believe it or not, this popular recreational sport is more than 5200 years old. In 1930, British anthropologists discovered a primitive bowling ball and pins in the grave of an Egyptian boy from around 3200 BC. Almost 3,000 years later, another early form of bowling was played in Germany, using just nine pins which were known as keglers.
More modern forms of bowling first appeared in England around the year 1366, when King Edward II would force his troops to play bowling as a form of training. Popularity of the sport spread in England, and it was also being played in the Netherlands at the same time. Versions of the game also existed in Italy and France.
Bowling was brought to the United States by settlers from England, and was very popular in the Manhattan area, where it was played outdoors using nine pins as well as in indoor bowling alleys. However, the sport had a setback in 1841 when nine pin bowling lanes were prohibited because they attracted gamblers. This proved to be a turning point in the history of bowling, however, when creative entrepreneurs simply added an extra pin. With this innovation, modern ten pin bowling was born.
By the end of the 19th century, ten pin bowling was being played in several states, including New York, Illinois and Ohio. However, there were no standard rules, and elements such as lane length and weight of pins varied from state to state. This changed in 1895, when the American Bowling Congress (ABC) was formed and established a national set of rules and regulations. No women were allowed in ABC, and the first women's league was not formed until 1917.
Through the first half of the 1900s, bowling continued to grow, helped along by advancements such as the modern bowling ball and pinsetter technology. Before pinsetters came into widespread use, "pin boys" had to manually reset the pins each time. Today, bowling is played by more than 100 million people in 90 countries.