Chess has been popular in the West for centuries. It is thought to have originated in India during the Gupta Empire (A.D. 280-550) and to have been called chaturanga. It has changed names, designs, and rules since then. The current name “chess” is likely derived from an English corruption of the Persian word shah, meaning “king.”
In 1991, the oldest known chess piece was discovered at Humayma, Jordan, a site along the King’s Highway, which runs from the Red Sea to Syria. It dates from about A.D. 700, and is made of a square piece of sandstone with two prongs. Current chess enthusiasts can imagine engaging with a medieval to play a game they both love. However, they may have to agree on the rules before they start.
Source: “Rooks and Pawns,” Biblical Archaeology Review, Winter 2020, Vol. 46, No. 5, p. 16