Things Learned at the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame (and easily repeated as quotes from their online history page):
Sir Flinders Petrie, discovered in the 1930’s a collection of objects in a child’s grave in Egypt that appeared to him to be used for a crude form of bowling. If he was correct, then bowling traces its ancestry to 3200 BC.
There is substantial evidence that a form of bowling was in vogue in England in 1366, when King Edward III allegedly outlawed it to keep his troops focused on archery practice.
Balls used to be primarily lignum vitae, a very hard wood. But in 1905 the first rubber ball, the ‘Evertrue’ was introduced, and in 1914 the Brunswick Corporation successfully promoted the Mineralite ball, touting its ‘mysterious rubber compound.’
The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame is in St. Louis Missouri and online.