The Origin of Bowling

The origin of bowling is a subject with no clear answer. Different historians have varying views on the exact beginning of bowling. The origin of bowling dates back over 5,000 years according to some historians and over 1,500 years according to others. British anthropologist Sir Flinders Petrie claims to have found evidence of ancient artifacts from 3200 B.C. that he believes are remnants of a game that resembles the bowling that we know today. German historian William Pehle claims that bowling originated in his country around 300 AD.

Regardless of whether bowling actually originated in Germany, there is proof that bowling has been played in Germany since at least the 4th century. In an effort to increase church attendance, German monks devised a game parishioners could play each week. During this time most people carried kegels, or clubs, for protection. The monks devised a game that involved placing these kegels at one end of a runway (which resembles a modern bowling lane) and take turns rolling stones at them. The kegel was supposed to represent the Heide, or heathen. The story goes that whoever could knock down the kegels must be of good character and would be cleansed of their sins. Those that missed had to do penance. These kegels are said to have developed into today's bowling pins. Even to this day, bowlers are known as keglers.

Over time larger stones were used to roll at the pins and eventually replaced by wooden balls. The number of pins has also varied greatly over time. At times only three pins have been used and at other times as many as seventeen.

Bowling has been popular all over the world for several hundreds year. King Edward III of England outlawed bowling in the 14th century because it was becoming too much of a distraction to his troops. It's even said that Martin Luther built a bowling lane for his children.

The popularity of bowling skyrocketed in the 1950s when new bowling ball equipment was invented and NBC began broadcasting "Championship Bowling." In the 1960s, ABC began broadcasting the Pro Bowlers tour. Though it doesn't enjoy the same level of popularity it once did, bowling is still played by millions of people across the world.   

Related Life123 Articles

We may never know who invented bowling, but it is fun to guess.

Bowling rules are so complicated that there are few behaviors on the bowling alley that are unregulated.

Frequently Asked Questions on
More Related Life123 Articles

Candlepin bowling is a unique variation of bowling that originated in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1880. While it is essentially the same as regular tenpin bowling, candlepin has a few quirks that make the game far more challenging.

Knowing how to bowl is practically as important as knowing the Pledge of Allegiance, if you are an American.

These bowling tips are proof that good bowlers are made, not born.

© 2015 Life123, Inc. All rights reserved. An IAC Company