Ancient Board Game Pieces Puzzle Archaeologists

Ancient Board Game Pieces Puzzle Archaeologists

The 5,000-year-old pieces mark the oldest known instance of a "board game".

Archaeologists have unearthed a series of small, carved stones, assumed to be some kind of ancient board game's pieces, in a 5,000-year-old burial mound in Turkey. The elaborate pieces consist of 49 small stones sculpted in different shapes and painted in green, red, blue, black and white. The discovery marks the oldest known instance of a "board game," with Haluk Sağlamtimur of Ege University in İzmir, Turkey, describing it as a "a rather complete set of a chess-like game."

"Some depict pigs, dogs and pyramids, others feature round and bullet shapes. We also found dice as well as three circular tokens made of white shell and topped with a black round stone," Sağlamtimur told Discovery News. "We are puzzling over its strategy."

Sağlamtimur and his team claim that their find confirms that board games first originated from the Fertile Crescent regions and Egypt more than 5,000 years ago. Some badly preserved wooden pieces and sticks were discovered along with the stone tokens, but the accompanying game board has yet to be found.

"According to distribution, shape and numbers of the stone pieces, it appears that the game is based on the number 4," said Sağlamtimur. He hopes the discovered peices will provide some hints on the rules and logic behind the game. The real question is how long will it be before Hasbro starts selling "Ancient Turkish Adventure: The Board Game"?

Sağlamtimur was unable to find the dog from my Monopoly set in the mound, and suggested I check in that hard-to-reach area underneath the fridge.

Source: Discovery News

Permalink

Wow, there really *ARE* ancient mesopetanian D4s.

Ancient d4's. So people were standing on these things thousands of years before D&D decided to bring us the light mace.

I'm only curious as to what makes him think these are pieces to a game. Couldn't they be little keepsakes someone was selling/trading for? I'm probably one of the furthest things from an archaeologist though, so I dunno.

Does anyone here know what was going on 5,000 years ago? Must of been some intense games of Jumanji.

I'd be interested to know what makes this a game rather than, say, a model. Or a diorama. Still, it sounds like an interesting find one way or the other.

Versuvius:
Ancient d4's. So people were standing on these things thousands of years before D&D decided to bring us the light mace.

yeah, that's pretty funny, still, wouldn't it have been awesome if D&D was invented in the stone age?

imagine how that would've changed history completely.

What I really want to know is, which one is the shoe?

or they uncovered the first souvenir shop...

TheProfessor234:
I'm only curious as to what makes him think these are pieces to a game. Couldn't they be little keepsakes someone was selling/trading for? I'm probably one of the furthest things from an archaeologist though, so I dunno.

Does anyone here know what was going on 5,000 years ago? Must of been some intense games of Jumanji.

ZZoMBiE13:
I'd be interested to know what makes this a game rather than, say, a model. Or a diorama. Still, it sounds like an interesting find one way or the other.

The pieces are roughly contemporary with the full swing of the Sumerian civilization to the south. The Sumerians had a full blown writing system by 3000 BC and the larger cities, like Ur, had up to 50000 inhabitants. There had been trade with Anatolia since the Ubaid period and before going to back to 7500 BC. The earliest urban settlements in Anatolia, notably Çatalhöyük, also appear around 7500 BC. Admittedly we are only talking about villages here, nonetheless its permanent structures built from mud brick with around 5000 inhabitants, not bad for the late stone age. So by 3000 BC, we are talking about Urban societies that have 4000 years of slow development behind them. Its not greatly surprising that boardgames came into existence at that time in that area. I suspect its might be an idea from much further south that traveled up the trade route. The previous oldest board game know as the the Royal Game of Ur or twenty squares dates to 2600 BC

Versuvius:
Ancient d4's. So people were standing on these things thousands of years before D&D decided to bring us the light mace.

I can go one better here. Admittedly it's not even close to being as old as these pieces, but I have seen an ancient Roman d20 in the British Museum. Sarcophagi & Sphinxes, anyone?

I'm suddenly reminded of that guy who buried his board game in the desert intending it to be played by future generations. They could've at least left a rulebook!

Mother****ing Ludo! Oldest board game in the world!

This further solidifies my theory that all religious texts are actually ancient DM guides and player handbooks. Although judging by that set everyone played low level spell casters or halfling rogues what with all the D4s.

Eh, lots of ancient games get found, usually with the manual not included. Which means they'll never be played ago.

Pfff, those are just some homemade Agricola pieces ...

Maybe these are the prizes from ancient Kinder eggs?

TheProfessor234:

Does anyone here know what was going on 5,000 years ago? Must of been some intense games of Jumanji.

haha dammit this is exactly what i thought of, those 4 pieces in the middle look like the elephant piece from jumanji

image

I bet it's from an ancient Civ style board game, or would that be way too meta?

If it is apart of a game, they may have drawn the game board in the dirt or with chalk on rock surfaces.

It may have never had a board. The players could have just drawn one in the ground or something.

Nerf Dog, he is OP! Buff pig!

LOL, you suck, only n00bs use the pyramid double token combo!

Decayed sticks and white-and-black discs?

Sounds like Senet (note: my only experience with Senet is from Tomb Raider IV).

I don't suppose they found a painting of the rules along with it? ;) Those 5000 year old D4's look better than some of my 2 year old ones.

albino boo:
snip

Thanks for the history lesson, that is pretty cool. Crazy how wanting to be entertained has been a need for humans since forever.

D&D back when people still put people in D's and thought the other Ds exists.

It's always interesting to see that people for the longest time had no fucking idea to do with their free time or just wanted to relax. The age old saying is true. One a man gets rich enough, he gets bored and wants to play games.

Nice find, there. I wonder what future archeologists would make of our present time games. Imagine them digging up a set of chipped old Warhammer figures from some irradiated ruins somewhere.

lacktheknack:
Decayed sticks and white-and-black discs?

Sounds like Senet (note: my only experience with Senet is from Tomb Raider IV).

I had an educational Ancient Egypt-themed point-and-click adventure game when I was a kid.

It was a very good game, except the bit where you have to play against and beat some fat old bastard at Senet before he'll give up the bloody stone blocks you need to get building. I still twitch a bit when I hear something about Senet.

If I ever have to do that bit again, I'll find that man's mummy in some museum and shove his Senet-set right up his bum.

Muspelheim:
Nice find, there. I wonder what future archeologists would make of our present time games. Imagine them digging up a set of chipped old Warhammer figures from some irradiated ruins somewhere.

lacktheknack:
Decayed sticks and white-and-black discs?

Sounds like Senet (note: my only experience with Senet is from Tomb Raider IV).

I had an educational Ancient Egypt-themed point-and-click adventure game when I was a kid.

It was a very good game, except the bit where you have to play against and beat some fat old bastard at Senet before he'll give up the bloody stone blocks you need to get building. I still twitch a bit when I hear something about Senet.

If I ever have to do that bit again, I'll find that man's mummy in some museum and shove his Senet-set right up his bum.

Tomb Raider's take was that you played a huge game of Senet against the tomb's spirits. If you won, you got the easy route through the rest of the level. If you lost, you got the hard route (guess which route had all the secrets).

dementis:
This further solidifies my theory that all religious texts are actually ancient DM guides and player handbooks. Although judging by that set everyone played low level spell casters or halfling rogues what with all the D4s.

image

Thanks for sharing that theory. It is now my headcanon. :P

Some of those pieces remind me of the stones that, in Bionicle, the Matoran used to tell stories.

Could it be pieces for marknig enemy troops perhaps? you know akin to the wooden pieces to be put on the map often used during middle ages. you know something liek this but much more primitive:
image

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here