Well, quite a number of people have tried to answer that question, but I'm not sure there is yet to be a one hundred percent definitive answer that we can claim as “the one”.
As mentioned, informational sources vary on the topic, but here are the strongest possibilities as to who invented the game of bowling…
Bowling seems to have been around since ancient Egyptian times. In fact, some have even claimed that they like the sound of the crashing pins as their stone ball struck them and knocked them down. That could very well be as I have always found it a very cool sound as well.
We can't really be sure of their motive or fascination for the game of bowling, but we can be sure that the Egyptians did apparently play the game or at least one like it. You see, in the 1930's, a British anthropologist by the name of Sir Flinders Petrie discovered a set of what appeared to be a bowling ball with pins in a child's grave in Egypt.
If Sir Petrie was correct in his determination, and the dating methods were accurate, one could conclude that the sport of bowling was present sometime around the year 3200 B.C. That would put the sport at more than 5200 years old, at the very least.
A German historian by the name of William Pehle made the claim that an ancient form of the game of bowling was played in Germany, his country of origin. Pehle asserts that this was likely to have been around 300 to 200 B.C., but he does not indicate who invented bowling in Germany.
It does appear that a form of bowling was played in Germany at that time, mainly during festivals in which large stones were thrown at 9 wooden sticks. These sticks or primitive pins were called “kegles”, which makes since when you consider that German bowlers to this day are actually referred to as “keglers”.
Who invented bowling in England then? Well, since it seems to have been around long before in other parts of the world, we could hardly refer to it as having been invented in England, but the sport seems to have first appeared sometime between the years 1100 and 1400.
It was in the year 1366 that King Edward III forbade his soldiers from bowling so that they could spend more time refining their crafts of warfare. But years later, the sport caught on with the English populace.
Around the same time that the game really caught on in England, the Dutch were playing a similar game which was later called “Dutch Pins” in 16th century America. By this time, varying forms of bowling were being played in many parts of the world.
Who invented ten pen bowling then?
Some say that in the year 1870, nine pin bowling was banned because of it's perceived similarities to other forms of gambling.
In an effort to circumvent the law, bowlers opted to add that tenth pin.
So, who invented bowling then?
Maybe one day we will know for sure, but for now, maybe we can be content in knowing that bowling and even the ten pin bowling games have been around for a long time and it doesn't seem that they will go away anytime soon.