In 1998, Ulrich Schädler pointed to the possibility that mancala was known to the Graeco-Romanworld in late antiquity. He found a remodelled board of the ancient Greek Game of Five Lines (Pente Grammai) in the Roman Agora at Izmir, which could have been used to play a mancala game. He concluded that In 2004, L. Mulvin and S. E. Sidebotham described Roman game boards from Abu Sha'ar, a Roman fortress at the Red Sea coast, which was abandoned in the late 4th century AD. Their findings included boards that most probably were mancala . In 2010, the Dutch mancala researcher reported about possible mancala players at Palmyra, which might date from the end of the 3rd century AD. He cautioned, however, that . Only a written record would remove all doubts about the nature of the archaeological findings.
The thing that is most remarkable about Mancala games is that they are in noway games of chance -- they are purely games of skill -- and a mathematicalskill at that. As played in their native countries, they use a sort of right-brained mathematical skill because there players are encouraged to scoopand play the pieces quickly, without spending much time figuring out which isthe best move. In most games, counting of the pieces in the cups on your ownside is allowed (but you may not count the opponent's).
Here I provide an overview of the games, and I describe two popular variants of mancala: Kalah and Oware. If you want to play the games with your kids, you can buy a game board. But one of the great things about mancala is that the game equipment is easily made from everyday materials at home. You can make your own macala set using an egg cartoon, two bowls, and some dried seeds, beans, or pebbles.
One famous story about mancala describes two great champions, immersed in a tense game, and the whole village was so captivated by watching these two masters that not one villager noticed when a fire began and burnt everything to the ground.