This Ancient Game Is Puzzling Archaeologists, But We Solved It

This Ancient Game Is Puzzling Archaeologists, But We Solved It

The oldest gaming tokens ever found have been discovered in Turkey and dated back to the early Bronze Age.

For some people, they appear to be simple stone carvings. But for tabletop gamers - and the Turkish archaeologists who found the stones - they are gaming tokens. Unearthed in an early Bronze Age burial site at Başur Hyk, a 820- by 492-foot mound near Siirt in southeast Turkey, the pieces consist of 49 small stones sculpted in different shapes and painted in various colors.

"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," said Haluk Sağlamtimur of Ege University in İzmir, Turkey.

Sağlamtimur says that similar pieces were found at sites in Syria and Iraq, but those were found as single objects and believed to be counting stones.

"On the contrary, our gaming pieces were found all together in the same cluster," he said. "It's a unique finding, a rather complete set of a chess like game. We are puzzling over its strategy."

Radio carbon dating traced the pieces back to 3100-2900 B.C., but there is no scientific method to determine the rules of this ancient game.

"According to the distribution, shape and numbers of the stone pieces, it appears that the game is based on the number four," said Sağlamtimur.

In the following gallery, you'll see the gaming stones and other objects found buried with them, along with the dig site at which they were recovered. Also pictured is a gaming board independently found in the Royal cemetery of Ur, associated with the "Game of Twenty Squares," which was played around 3000 B.C.

I see four tetrahedrons, a few carvings of monstrous creatures, what are arguably worn icosahedrons... Clearly, these are gaming pieces for the world's first tabletop RPG and miniatures set. Turns out that Gygax* guy was just a hack.

*Gary Gygax was the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and has been described as the "father of D&D." We are immensely grateful for his pioneering of the tabletop RPG.

Source: Discovery News

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As was George R.R. Martin apparently. Clearly, his novels were heavily inspired by a game of stones.

Even back in the bronze age their wizards had to deal with d4 hitpoints.

CorrectAndDone:
Even back in the bronze age their wizards had to deal with d4 hitpoints.

Wizards and their ridiculous cantrips and damage rolls have no right to complain. A spell with 50 yards of range doesn't sound like much until you realize he's at the entrance of the dungeon slinging magic missiles.

Now I learned that even back in the bronze age, they still had time to do something non productive to their society!

And of course, the requisite XKCD reference:

image

CorrectAndDone:
Even back in the bronze age their wizards had to deal with d4 hitpoints.

What's that? Rolled a 1? Bah, may as well die and re-roll.

Scars Unseen:
And of course, the requisite XKCD reference:

image

Thank you; I was hoping someone would post this :)

Wonder if the soles of people's feet were generally thicker 3000 years ago.
image

"According to the distribution, shape and numbers of the stone pieces, it appears that the game is based on the number four," said Sağlamtimur.

Goodness me they found Ludo.

You didnt 'solve' shit, Please dont go all Buzzfeed and resort to Gotcha titles.

Either this is some ancient form of D&D or, far more likely, someone went back in time and TRIED to teach a group of people D&D. It's so obvious.

Panzervaughn:
You didnt 'solve' shit, Please dont go all Buzzfeed and resort to Gotcha titles.

Seems a bit harsh, it was pretty clearly a joke.

Scarim Coral:
Now I learned that even back in the bronze age, they still had time to do something non productive to their society!

Lol, yeah. They may have called it something different, but every society's got Saturday nights and bored teenagers.

Looks more like The Settlers of Catan to me.

Don't really see how you 'solved' anything myself, you just crowed a bit about them being game pieces and then plugged the RPG and Miniature forums. Not that those guys aren't fine fellows, but Escapist come on with the click bait-titles, I value you as a news source not as a Buzzfeed clone.

I'm amazed that Archaeologists didn't think of them as gaming pieces immediately.

I mean, I thought they were part of the Alpha Pack of Nerds that is the Scientific Community.

So what did they roleplay about in the bronze age? Did they go back to the stone age? "You find a Magical item. It's a stick with fire on the end. No one, not even the ancient 34 year olds, knows how it works. Next to it is the pointiest stick you have ever seen." "Aww I knew I should have taken stick proficiency"

Ancient DM: "Gozer the Gozerian appears before your party and asks you if you're a god. What do you do?"

Ancient guy who rolled a Paladin: "I say no." Everyone else: *facepalm*

Ancient DM: "Roll initiative."

Kuredan:
So what did they roleplay about in the bronze age? Did they go back to the stone age? "You find a Magical item. It's a stick with fire on the end. No one, not even the ancient 34 year olds, knows how it works. Next to it is the pointiest stick you have ever seen." "Aww I knew I should have taken stick proficiency"

You are my favorite person.

"I order some beer."

"Alcohol doesn't exist yet."

"I kill myself."

Rhykker:
-snip-

Is it sad that I really want to make a stone age campaign now...

"Your party enters the city of Ug. This booming metropolis boasts more than 45 people, almost unfathomable in its size and splendor. You see the main thoroughfare, paved by the most exotic means imaginable, which appears to be made of dirt that is actually packed down forming a more firm surface. Roll reflex saves. Your party is almost run down by a strange beast attached to a sledge galloping down the road at a ferocious 7 miles and hour. Roll will saves. Ok for those of you who fail, you are frightened by this creature for... 3 rounds and shaken thereafter, because you fear it to be a manifestation of the sun god who rides across the sky each day. You must find a 2hd animal to sacrifice or you will remain shaken. You head towards a local hovel known for trading the mushroom water that lets you speak to the gods and sit down at the table, sipping your drink while the room slowly turns purple."

"Ok we're going to gather information"

"You approach the trader of the mushroom water who now appears to made out of tiny red berries"

"I ask him my question"

"He doesn't understand you. Make a linguistics check."

"24"

"There is no unified spoken language. You'll have to gesture"

"I gesture my question, 26 on gather information btw"

"You gesture at the berry man, but there seems to be no effect. There's not such thing as information yet, so you can't gather it."

"Sigh..."

Kuredan:

Rhykker:
-snip-

Is it sad that I really want to make a stone age campaign now...

"Your party enters the city of Ug. This booming metropolis boasts more than 45 people, almost unfathomable in its size and splendor. You see the main thoroughfare, paved by the most exotic means imaginable, which appears to be made of dirt that is actually packed down forming a more firm surface. Roll reflex saves. Your party is almost run down by a strange beast attached to a sledge galloping down the road at a ferocious 7 miles and hour. Roll will saves. Ok for those of you who fail, you are frightened by this creature for... 3 rounds and shaken thereafter, because you fear it to be a manifestation of the sun god who rides across the sky each day. You must find a 2hd animal to sacrifice or you will remain shaken. You head towards a local hovel known for trading the mushroom water that lets you speak to the gods and sit down at the table, sipping your drink while the room slowly turns purple."

"Ok we're going to gather information"

"You approach the trader of the mushroom water who now appears to made out of tiny red berries"

"I ask him my question"

"He doesn't understand you. Make a linguistics check."

"24"

"There is no unified spoken language. You'll have to gesture"

"I gesture my question, 26 on gather information btw"

"You gesture at the berry man, but there seems to be no effect. There's not such thing as information yet, so you can't gather it."

"Sigh..."

Hahahahah... I really want you to make a Stone Age campaign now as well.

"How will you carry the dead ox back to town?"

"Let's go rent a cart."

"The wheel hasn't been invented."

"I invent the wheel!"

"Roll an Intelligence check."

"8."

"You get a splinter and die of infection."

It actually proves what stated in many historic writings and other archeologic findings that there could be many advanced and productive society existed in the far ancient. Guess that also provides that society and human cilization is actually following a series of circles.

so D&D is older than paper? It could very well be older than tables...

If future archaeologists find 20th century D&D books scattered all over the world (after the inevitable 3rd World War blasts us back to the middle ages) they'll probably assume it was some sort of religion.

RazgrizRex:
If future archaeologists find 20th century D&D books scattered all over the world (after the inevitable 3rd World War blasts us back to the middle ages) they'll probably assume it was some sort of religion.

You don't need a 3rd World War to blast us back to the feudal era, just wait till the oil runs out. It'd make a fantastic D&D campaign now that I think about it. Post fall of modern society that isn't post apocalypse.

Dying_Jester:
Either this is some ancient form of D&D or, far more likely, someone went back in time and TRIED to teach a group of people D&D. It's so obvious.

Dear non-existent god!
You know what it means?
We finally found reason behind all religions.
Some stone age geeks just took their table-top gaming (if tables were invented) too serious
Now everything makes sense!

Rhykker:
snip

"Ok, everyone have their character palumsests?

Marius, you are playing Gug. Gug is a human cleric of Gug. He is also the deity Gug and the only worshipper. He uses divine magic based off of wishes he makes. For example he might say "Gug wish Gug not hurt so bad." If Gug is listening, and your guess is as good as mine, Gug may answer this prayer by healing Gug. Or he may just rub some leaves on it and throw his hands up. Ah the fickle nature of primitive gods. Lucky we have a pantheon who if needed can give us a referral to see a specialist deity. Lookin' at you Apollo, my man! Gug also tries to convert others but comes up short when he finds that they are not Gug.

Octavia, you are playing Runny Jump Jump. RJJ is a meer(cat)kin rogue who is easily startled. She is prone to flee at direct confrontation but is deadly if she thinks she's alone. She is also very superstitious, believing that the gods dwell in inanimate objects and not in Olympus like rational folk. She carries several of these "gods" with her, notably her flint daggers Pointy and Not Pointy Anymore. She will become fascinated if faced with a shiny object or at any choice with more than 3 options. She is the brains of the group.

Zorba, you are playing Mongo, The Marvelous Mystic. Mongo is a Neanderthal mage. By that I mean he knows how to make fire. Truly, him grasp have exceed him grasp. That's it.

Leonidis, you are playing Blarg Barleybrew. Blarg is a Homo floresiensis warrior. This halfling may only stand at 3ft 7 but he possesses the bravery of one twice his size, minus two feet. He has recently been told he is not a halfling at all, rather just a dwarf human. I would not suggest anyone bring this up as his dwarfish temper might make you regret it. Blarg is afraid of fire, and thus holds Mongo as some sort of deity. This enraged Gug as the only true believer in Gug and causes Runny Jump Jump to scurry away when they argue. Blarg is a strict adherent to the classicist "biggest rock, best rock" school of philosophy, also known as the school of really hard knocks.

Ok so we begin our adventure-"

"Hey, you guys just wanna invade Carthage again?"
"Yeah, sounds like fun."
"Ok, I'm going Pyro, but we need an Engie"

"Guys?"

 

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