Roman information for a kids’ class

I am teaching games and races in history. So we’ve done some on the Greeks. Now we’re moving on to the Romans.

What about Hannibal? He was a Carthagian general and he fought against the Romans. That might be a “race.” And the Alps and elephants is definitely interesting.

Another thing I could do is talk about Julius Caesar losing the battle for Britain. Also about the blue Brits.

I’ve been looking for cool websites with good information.

The Life of a Roman Child has a list of the toys Roman children played with. I think it would be fun for the kids to see these and try to guess which ones were Roman.

It also says they had pets: dogs, birds, monkeys, and cats. But dogs were the most common.

And, of particular weirdness, it says that Roman girls married after they were 12 and Roman boys married after they were 14. They couldn’t be related by marriage or by 4th degree consanguinity.

This ThinkQuest website says:

Gaming was popular among all classes, and included pastimes such as dice, knucklebones, and gaming counters. Board games were played by adults as well as children. Traditional children’s games, such as hide-and-go-seek and leap frog are depicted in Ancient Roman art. Children’s toys have also been found.

How about this for serious game playing:

Ball-playing was popular among the Romans, and they often spent their morning exercises playing games on the fields (palaestra) or ball-courts (sphaerista). The Romans enjoyed a variety of ball games, including Handball (Expulsim Ludere), Trigon, Soccer, Field Hockey, Harpasta, Phaininda, Episkyros, and certainly Catch and other games that children might invent, like Dodge Ball. An additional game called Roman Ball is theorized to fill some gaps. The pages linked on the right provide descriptions of these games.

Soccer is a natural game and although the Romans may not have played team soccer there are references to boys kicking balls around in the streets. Cicero described one court case in which a man getting a shave was killed when a ball was kicked into the barber. The ball must have been an inflated pila. The mosaic from Ostia, above, shows what appears to be an inflated pila, stitched in the fashion of modern soccer balls. Considering that this scene represents a gym, it might be also a paganica, or medicine ball, but paganicas are always shown as oblong.

That information comes from Crystal Links. It also lists games the Romans played: “Knucklebones (Tali & Tropa), Dice (Tesserae), Roman Chess (Latrunculi), Roman Checkers (Calculi), The Game of Twelve Lines (Duodecim Scripta), The Game of Lucky Sixes (Felix Sex), Tic-Tac-Toe (Terni Lapilli), Roman Backgammon (Tabula), Egyptian Backgammon (Senet), and others.”

Maybe I’ll give the kids some things to create their own game with. That might be fun. What would the Game of Lucky Sixes look like?

A powerhouse of links can be found here.

The BBC has a great website with lots of stuff. According to one of its pages, the Romans kept dormice in clay pots stuffed with hay. Then when they were hungry, they took them out to eat them. Remember to say that for Alice in Wonderland.

It also has recipes from a Roman cookbook, tells of a woman’s invitation to her friend to a birthday party, and recommends making a scroll to see how hard it is to keep. I wonder how much dowels are and how hard it would be to get them cut.

Aerobiologicalengineering has this entry on Roman board games. Apparently Mancala is one of the games the Romans played. They adopted it from Libya. I could bring my two boards in to play.

This site has pictures from Roman archaeology that show the games. I think we could play Roman Knucklebones or Tali. There is one where you pitch the tali (dice) into a narrow necked bottle. Only those which fell in would be counted. I could use the limeade bottles and my dice.

Maybe we could make a board game of five in a row. I’d have to get pieces to play with at a teacher supply store. I can’t remember how much we have to spend. But I could probably do it.

One website says they played tic tac toe, but this site says not. It was a game played with markers, blue and red, and it was very popular. The entry is much shorter than the other.

The Lines of Twelve explanation is interesting. And how the Romans got around a prohibition to gambling was interesting.

Merels also sounds like an interesting game, but I didn’t really understand the rules as explained on the linking sites.

The author of the site above also has one on Roman ball games. He’s moved once. Should I copy everything I can find onto a list for myself so that if it closes, I can have it still? I don’t know. Fun games are included.

Maybe we could play Dodge ball. That seems to have been a common street game.

They also played handball against a single wall. But I can’t think of anywhere on the church where we wouldn’t be doing the church a disservice to play.

There is some discussion of tennis, with rackets, or something like tennis. But no rackets have been found.

NOTE TO SELF: Look for that book of civilizations. Do I have that for Greeks and Romans? If so, use it.