The precise origins of bowls lie back in dark and distant pre-history. Aiming a missile at a target with some degree of accuracy, whether for recreation or more serious endeavour, must have been a fairly basic, even required skill when ones next meal was not only still breathing but also often still mobile.
The first documented evidence of a game at least akin to bowls, was unearthed, literally, by Sir Flinders Petrie, Professor of Egyptology at University College, London from 1893 to1935. Excavating the grave of an Egyptian child dating back some 7000 years to 5200 bc, he discovered a set of skittles or ninepins buried along with the remains. Even more precise data was to be found in the excavations at Thebes, the ancient capital of Upper Egypt, carried out by Sir John Gardner Wilkinson. Among the artefacts recovered were vases, dishes and wall hangings clearly showing people of the period 3000 bc involved in bowling games, which closely parallel the game we play today.
The early Chinese bowled carefully selected stones toward a hole in the ground with the object, unlike that of golf, of getting the stone as close to the edge of the hole without it falling in.
The Polynesians developed Ula Maika, a game in which pieces of whetstone, 3 to 4 inches in diameter and painstaking shaped into an oval, were rolled at pins set at a distance of 60 feet, the exact regulation incidentally of modern day Ten Pin bowling lanes. Different versions of this game filtered down to Polynesian descendent groups including those in Hawaii, Samara, Fiji and New Zealand where a set of ten stone bowls of Maori origin are on display in the Auckland War Memorial Museum.