(Left) These Archaeology Ganjifa Playing Cards come from Iran. Ganjifa and Aas-Naas are traditional Iranian card games whose history goes back to the 15th century Safavid period. Apparently Ganjifa was similar to Hokm and Aas-Naas to Poker. These hand-painted playing cards are all from the late Qajar period and are made of lacquered papier-mâché.
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Early evidence of gambling.
Gambling in Ancient History
Before the bright lights and sounds of Vegas, the high speed access to mobile slots or the Hollywood leanings of Bond & Ocean’s Eleven, gambling had a considerably more primitive form.
Some of the earliest mentions of gambling come from the Mesopotamian Civilisations, a historical region in West Asia roughly consisting of Iraq, Kuwait, eastern Syria, and South-East Turkey where some of the first tools affiliated with gambling seem to originate from. As a matter of fact, some of the earliest forms of dice cubes marked with pips were found in many archaeological sites in this side of the world, dating back to 3000 B.C. Some of the first recorded mentions of gambling were dice-like games in Ancient Roman and Greek history. Despite it still being illegal, many people from the highest places in society to the bottom of the pile enjoyed it.
Gambling in Ancient India
Moving across to Europe, the Romans worshipped many gods, one of them was Fortuna. The Goddess of fortune, her symbols are often found to be the horn of plenty, or a wheel of fortune. Many temples were created throughout cities in her glory and she eventually became known as Felicitas, which translates to either good fortune or good luck. Over time, she developed to become a symbol of wealth and prosperity in society, and is often called upon by gamblers when placing bets.
Just like their predecessors in Egypt, the ancient civilizations in Greece also similarly felt that the concept of gambling and luck had been born from the Gods. In Ancient mythology, Zeus overthrew his Father Cronus, and then cast lots with his brother to become rulers of the Universe. Zeus became ruler of the Heavens, Poseidon won the sea and Hades, who had lost became ruler of the Underworld. Many times in history have references been made about the Gods betting over the power of mortals. Including the infamous story regarding the Contest for Athens. Poseidon, ruler of the Seas and Athena, the Goddess of wisdom and strength wagered and contended for the city of Athens in front of Cecrops. Athena won (hence the name Athens) and the city was punished by Poseidon out of spite.
Take a look around the Vegas strip and you’ll see plenty of ancient history references such as Pyramids, the infamous Sphinx, and of course, Caesars Palace!
Good Luck at the Tables!
Before Las Vegas...
There Was Mesopotamia!
Ancient Civilizations & Early Signs of Gambling Among the People!