Looking at the pictures, the design of backgammon boards appears to
vary greatly in ornamentation, although not so much in
basic/functional design. The main variations appear to be:
1. Long triangles, like we see on modern boards. These can be plain,
painted, inlaid, and ornamented in any imaginable way. They also
sometimes have stylized tips.
2. Rounded tips. Some of the older Indian boards show this variations.
Those that are handpainted with each position being a brushstroke also
tend to be rounded.
3. Short triangles or dots to mark position.
Backgammon is a very old game with variations in many cultures. The
board designs, while similar, are heavily influenced by the creating
culture, much as one sees with chessboard/piece designs.
I read information on over 50 sites, but, since you are not interested
in the history of the game itself, I selected some sites that either
include historical board pictures or discuss board design within the
The Origin of Backgammon
I believe this site will provide you with just what you were looking
for. It has diagrams and pictures of various board designs dating back
to the 1100's. By exploring the site, you will find lots of images
taken from historical books, paintings, drawings and tapestries
depicting people playing backgammon, which often clearly show the
boards. Almost every page includes an image or description of a
different board. The pictures show a wonderful progression of
different designs, and each includes references identifying time
period, culture and the origin of the board image.
The Gloucester Tabulae Set
This site has only one board, but it is well photographed and is meant
to be one of the oldest surviving boards.
MindZine - History of Backgammon
This is a "history" site, however, it discusses other games which may
be related to backgammon, which may be of interest to you as far as
board design evolution. It also includes a few historical images of
boards and references a book which may interest you: The Backgammon
Book by Oswald Jacoby & John R Crawford
If the book mentioned above does interest you, it is available through Amazon.
The book focuses on how to play the game, but does appear to include
some historical pictures as part of the background information on the
I very much enjoyed researching this question for you. I spent over
two hours wandering around the Origin of Backgammon site I first
mentioned. I hope you find that site as enjoyable and interesting as I