The Gothic Times

Historical Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Bowling

By Ismael J. Ramos-Peñaherrera

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In 1930, British anthropologist Sir Flinders Petrie, along with a team of archaeologists, discovered various primitive bowling balls, bowling pins, and other materials in the grave of a protodynastic Egyptian boy dating to 3200 B.C. That discovery is the earliest known historical trace of bowling.

There have also been other claims that bowling originated in Germany around 300 A.D. as part of a religious ritual in which people would roll stones at clubs, or “kegels,” to absolve themselves of sins.

A site in Southampton, England claims to be the oldest lawn bowling site still in operation. Records show that the game has been played on the grass there since 1299.

The first written reference to bowling dates all the way back to 1366 when King Edward III of England banned his troops from playing it so that they could focus more on their archery practice.

It is also believed that King Henry VIII bowled using cannonballs. He also famously banned bowling for all but the upper classes because so many working men and soldiers were neglecting their trades.

Bowling was originally played with nine pins instead of ten with the nine-pin version being introduced to the United States, from Europe, during the colonial era. The sport quickly became popular with everyday people, but in 1841 a law in Connecticut banned nine-pin bowling lanes because of the gambling and crime that was associated with it.

Funny enough, it was said the people there combatted this by adding an extra pin, resulting in the game of ten-pin bowling which we know today.

Ten-pin bowling became a billion-dollar industry in the United States by 1945 and in 1946, American Machine and Foundry (AMF) Bowling introduced the first commercial fully automatic pinspotter.

A pinspotter, or pinsetter, was originally just a person who would manually reset the bowling pins by hand, cleared the fallen ones, and returned the bowling balls to the players.

You could imagine how tedious this would be and how long it would take when all you want to do is just roll a 10 pound ball down a wooden lane. Thank God for technology.

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Historical Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Bowling