Where did Bowling Originate

Bowling is one of the most popular recreational activities in the US. People meet at bowling alleys on weekends, participate in bowling leagues and plan children's birthday parties at bowling centers. Still, not many people ask the question, "Where did bowling originate?" Bowling, or a game similar to it may date back over 5000 years, but some historians believe it's only been around for just over a millennium.

The answer to the question depends on whose story you believe. According to British anthropologist Sir Flinders Petrie, the origins of the game date back to Egypt, 3200 B.C. He claims that some of the ancient artifacts he removed from the grave of a young boy were used in a primitive form of bowling. The Germans also claim a stake in the origination of the game. German historian William Pehle claims that the game originated in his country in 300 AD.

Whether it came from Ancient Egypt or Germany, one thing is known; the earliest account of the game comes from England in 1366. King Edward III allegedly outlawed the game to keep his troops from being distracted from their archery practice. Though they make no claims on inventing the modern game, England, France and Italy each still play games that likely came from a common source. Lawn bowling, pentanque and bocce respectively are too similar to have originated completely independently of each other.

The tenpin bowling that we all know and recognize today didn't enter the picture until the 1800s. Though the game was gaining popularity, it still did not have defined rules. Bowling equipment, ball weight and pin dimensions varied from region to region. That all changed when on September 9, 1895 the American Bowling Congress formed at Beethoven Hall in New York City. The ABC formalized the rules and regulations of the game and began holding major national competitions.

Today, televised Professional Bowling Association matches bring the game into the homes of millions of fans world-wide. Not bad for a game that is unsure of its heritage. 

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