Archaeologists Uncover 1700-Year-Old Board Game

Archaeologists Uncover 1700-Year-Old Board Game
Photo: University Museum of Bergen

A team from the University Museum of Bergen excavatd a site in Norway last month, and among the pots and glass they found there was also something a lot cooler: the remains of a board game dating back 1700 years.

In total they found 18 double-sided pieces, or tokens, and one die, which rather than being the squat, cube shape we’re used to was an elongated, skinny rod.

ImageThe four sides of the single dice found at the site. You can see numbers at each end of the “stick”. (Photo: University Museum of Bergen)

The game was found in an Early Iron Age grave cairn at Ytre Fosse, in Western Norway, and is thought to have been both inspired by the Roman game Ludus latrunculorum, while also serving as a predecessor of a more famous Viking age game Hnefatafl.

You can see all the pieces together in this little video put together by the university:

Via Archaeology Network


  • I wonder if this game predates nine-mens morris, i doubt it as they have found that game going back to at least 1000 bc.

    • There is an African game going back several thousand years, can’t remember the name of it though.

      • The earliest examples of the Royal Game of Ur from Mesopotamia are around 4,500 years old. That’s Middle-East, rather than Africa, of course.

        • Yeah, I’m pretty certain they found something like nine-mens morris etched into the roof of a house in a city they’ve been uncovering in that area. it’s very similar to ur, but IMO simpler.

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