Marbles have been around for a long time. They can certainly be documented back into Ancient Egypt, with ceramic and stone marbles/balls in tombs of children, and as games played during the Roman Empire.

There’s some history on the main ball page ( ), but I’ve kept the links on this page so’s not to get them too confused with balls. Our versions follow the links.

marble div

Extant examples

marble divA wonderful episode of “How it’s Made!” – How artisan marbles are made. This is very similar to the period process, unlike the machine-made cheap marbles –

marble div

Ovid describes various nut games in his poem ‘The Walnut Tree’.

…and the thrifty housewife stores
the collected nuts. These, as they stand upright,
a boy 1 splits with certain aim, or, as they lie on
their side, strikes with his finger once or twice. In
four nuts, and no more, is all his hazard, when one
is added to the three beneath it. Another bids them
roll down a sloping board, and prays that one out of
many, whiche’er it be, may touch his own. Then
there is he who guesses whether the number be
odd or even, that the augur may bear away the
wealth he has divined. Then too there is drawn
in chalk a shape such as a heavenly constellation
or the fourth Greek letter bears. When this has
been marked with degrees, the nut that stops within
it gains itself as many nuts as it has touched lines.
Often too a hollow vessel is placed at a distance, into
which a nut flung by a skilful hand may fall.

oonstitit . . . virga . . . ipse ” be read, the game would be
for a boy to stand inside the triangle and to try to touch
with a stick as many nuts as possible arranged inside it.
The references in 11. 81-2 are to a triangular arrangement
of stars above the head of the constellation Aries, and to the
Greek Delta.

Ovid is Publius Ovidius Naso (20 March 43 BC – AD 17/18)

marble div

beachball motifThere is a lovely story (for which I’ve long since lost the source) of an Egyptian archaeologist from way back in the early part of the 20th century who was involved in several digs and on-site unwrapping of the mummies they contained. One mummy was that of a young girl and in her hand was a small bag that disintegrated when they pulled it loose. It contained a long flat stick, two short flat sticks and a number of small round objects. The archaeologists labeled it as an amulet.

The fellow of whom I speak had two elementary school-age children who, when they were onsite for a visit, wandered off into the building where the artifacts were being kept. When the archaeologist found them, they had the contents of the “amulet” down on the floor and were playing Marble Arch with them!

Marble Arch is a game of rolling marbles through a small space or several of them.

marble arch

…or as the archaeologist’s children might have done….

Simple Marble ARch

marble div

Links to more Marble history

marble divLinks to Marble games

marble div

Modern stuff

marble div

More to come! 

marble div

In ministerio autem Somnium!
Page created 7/20/15 published 8/4/15
Last update 8/19/16


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s