4000-Year-Old Board Game Uncovered By Archaeologists

4000-Year-Old Board Game Uncovered By Archaeologists

In December 2021, a team of archaeologists working in Oman made the only type of discovery that would get their work covered on a site like this: they dug up a board game dating back approximately 4000 years, and which it’s thought could be an ancient ancestor to Backgammon.

The dig (via Ars Technica), which was undertaken by the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Warsaw and Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, took place in the Qumayrah Valley, and made all kinds of cool (for archaeologists, anyway) Bronze Age discoveries, like some big towers and evidence the settlement was part of the copper trade.

As the dig’s report so enthusiastically recounts, though, the best thing they found was a board game:

But the most unexpected discovery is not related directly to economy or subsistence. – In one of the rooms we’ve found… a game-board! – beams the project director. The board is made of stone and has marked fields and cup-holes. Games based on similar principles were played during the Bronze Age in many economic and cultural centres of that age. – Such finds are rare, but several examples are known from India, Mesopotamia and even the Eastern Mediterranean basin. The most famous example of a game-board based on a similar principle is the one from the graves from Ur, – explains the archaeologist.

Like the summary suggests, while the game found in the Qumayrah Valley is something of a mystery, it’s at least similar to the Royal Game of Ur, one of the most famous board games of antiquity. And that game has a hell of a story; as Ars’ Jennifer Ouellette explains, while the game had been discovered a century ago, nobody knew how to actually play it until the 1980s, when “a curator at the British Museum named Irving Finkel translated a Babylonian clay tablet in the early 1980s that turned out to be a description of the rules.”

4000-Year-Old Board Game Uncovered By Archaeologists

Once the rules had been discovered and people could play the game, it was quickly apparent that the Royal Game of Ur, also known as the Game of Twenty Squares, had either evolved into or had been replaced by the game we know today as Backgammon.

Sadly, the dig did not uncover any bronze shoes or windows.

The Cheapest NBN 1000 Plans

Looking to bump up your internet connection and save a few bucks? Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Kotaku, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *