Nine Men's Morris: An Ancient Game of Many Names, Played Worldwide
The Ancient Worldwide Game From the mists of ancient times, in the dawn of today's cultures and the infancy of the world's civilizations, there have been times which all peoples have shared since the Beginning of Days - when there was not much to do... but wait. The Roman Centurions, having readied their weapons and armour, having set up camp, awaited their next orders... the Mongol hunters, exhausted from the hunt and the haul, having returned with their kill, relaxed and waited for it to be dressed and cooked... the Mediterranean shepherds, having brought the sheep to the grazing grounds and made certain their safety, awaited their having their fill... a group of Zuni children gathered around a friend's home, and waited for the child inside to finish the last bit of morning chores before coming out to join them in play... The lulls in the passage of time can turn one to drawing, with a finger in the sand - or a stick in the soil - the grids and squares... and to the strategic placing of stones, according to the set patterns and rules, passing some small amount of time for the purpose of entertaining the mind, and the growth and increased development of intellect.
Though, true, it needn't only be during mere lulls in activity which calls one to make the marks in the Earth and to gather up the stones. There has also often been times which were dedicated and set aside for the very reason of playing such games which set one's mind to playful logic and strategy. After all, they were (and still are) quite fun to play. But this particular type of historic game is among the Earth's most ancient... some say as old as 1,400 BC, and perhaps, quite a lot older indeed. Moreover, through means clear, vague, obscure and unknown, it is perhaps the most widespread in its travel throughout the world. This game and its close variants can be found in the southern-most parts of Africa, in Asia, India, Egypt, Rome, Scandinavia, the British Isles, Greenland, Iceland, and even among the Native American tribes of the American Southwest, and many other places still. Its far-reaching spread throughout the world certainly comes as little surprise, considering how far back in history it began, and perhaps even more importantly, how exceedingly simple in its design. In all its manifestations, it can't help but have nearly everything about it in common with its neighbouring variants – they all have a playing field made up of a grid of intersecting lines. The pieces are all placed and moved upon the intersecting points of the lines in the grid. The goal is always the same, and solemnly simple, wherever it may be found – you must get three in a row.
This game has been called by many, many names, in many lands indeed... “Molenspel” in Holland, “Merelles” and “Jeu De Moulin” in France, “Qvarn” and “Dubbel Qvarn” in Sweden, “Mühle” and “Mühlenspiel” in Germany, “Mylna” in Iceland, “Achi” in Ghana, “Tapatan” in the Philippines, “Smerelli” in Italy, “Shisima” in Kenya, “Malomajatek” in Hungary, “Sam K'i” in China, “Triodi” in Southern Greece and Macedonia, “Nerenchi Keliya” in Ceylon, “Tant Fant” in India, “Picaria” by the Zuni tribe in New Mexico US, and “Paritaria”, “Pedreria” and “Picarva” by other tribes of the American Southwest... and there are many others, but I'm sure you get the idea. Even just in the English language alone, it's known by many names - “Mill”, “Mills”, “The Mill Game”, “Merelles”, “Marelles”, “Morelles”, “Merrills”, “Merels”, “Morris”, “Nine Men's Morris”, “Ninepenny Marl”, “Nine Holes”, and even “Cowboy Checkers”. Now, let's take a small look into the history of this game, and we can come to a deeper appreciation of how and why this game has spread nearly throughout this entire inhabited world...
Robinson, Jesse. Nine Men's Morris: An Ancient Game of Many Names, Played Worldwide (Ancient Games Book 2)