Maths Museum Museum
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Tabula
© Islington Artefact Library
Tabula was widely played throughout the Roman Empire from the beginning of the 1st century AD. In Roman antiquity it was known as Alea, meaning gambling, but came to be called Tabula meaning board or table since it was played on a board. Tabula is believed to have developed into the modern game of Backgammon. Tabula itself was believed to have evolved from a game known as Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum. This game appears to have been played throughout the Roman World and remained enormously popular until Tabula emerged to replace it. Tabula is the game that was primarily responsible for the gambling mania that swept Rome prior to its being declared illegal under the Republic. The emperor Claudius was said to be so fond of Tabula that he had a board fixed to his chariot so that he could play while travelling. The object of the game is to be the first player to move all fifteen of your playing stones onto the track, around the track, and off the track from the XXIV square.
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