Bowling has a rather vague history, with a form of it possibly dating back as far as 5,000 years to the ancient Egyptians.
Recent research suggests ancient Egyptians used to play in a huge hall, where they could throw the ball between the long lines of corridor. There were two people playing at the same time, standing on each end of the 4 meter long lane.
British anthropologist Sir Flinders Petrie discovered primitive balls back in 1930s, along with bowling pins and other materials lying in the same grave with one Egyptian boy from 3200 BC. So basically it means that the game of bowling is quite ancient and exists more than 5,200 years old.
Few years ago a professor Edda Bresciani and her team found another evidence of an ancient Egyptian game, which was sort of a mixture of billiards, bowling and lawn balls. Scientists suppose it was played at Narmoutheos, in the Fayoum region which is around 90 km from Cairo. People used to play this game in a spacious hall, which is basically the future to be bowling hall.
The room the game was hold was a part of a residential building, dating back to 2nd and 3rd century AD. You could see a lane in the room with two stone balls. The lane was around 4 meters long and 20 cm wide and 10 cm deep. In the center of the lane you could see a 10 centimeters square opening. As for the balls, they used to be of different diameters, while one of them was almost the same size of the opening, which made it more complicated to go in and the other could run in smoothly. According to Bresciani, two players used to play it at the same time standing on the ends of the lane. One player was throwing the big ball while the other one – a small. It is believed the two balls were thrown at the same time, and the goal of the big one was to prevent the small one to enter the opening in the middle.
If the ball eventually run through the opening, it could be easily recovered from the sand-filled vase below. The players used to change turns to throw the small ball, which was the one what determined a winner. The player who was able to place the small ball into the hall more times was a winner in the end of the game.
Bowling what we are playing now is believed to come to us from Germany, where it appeared around 300 A.D. At least the pins were introduced there. Parishioners had to place their kegels at the end of the long lane and then they rolled a rock at the kegel. If the rock knocked the kegels down their sins were absolved. Martin Luther was one of the active players, who set up few lines in the back of his yard, so he could play with his kids.
In England, bowling came in the early 1100s. And by the 1300, there were already several types of bowling game such as ninepins, skittles and half-bowls. During the reign of King Henry VIII bowling became extremely popular and was played as a symbol of social status and nobility.