Live Science has some interesting photos and coverage of a new discovery of a very old board game:
Pieces from a mysterious board game that hasn’t been played for 1,500 years were discovered in a heavily looted 2,300-year-old tomb near Qingzhou City in China.
There, archaeologists found a 14-face die made of animal tooth, 21 rectangular game pieces with numbers painted on them and a broken tile which was once part of a game board. The tile when reconstructed was “decorated with two eyes, which are surrounded by cloud-and-thunder patterns,” wrote the archaeologists in a report published recently in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.
The skeleton of possibly one of the grave robbers was also discovered in a shaft made within the tomb by looters.
Twelve faces of the die are numbered 1 through 6 in a form of ancient Chinese writing known as “seal script.” Each number appears twice on the die while two faces were left blank, the researchers noted.
The artifacts seem to be part of a game called “bo,” sometimes referred to as “liubo” the archaeologists said. Researchers who have studied the game of bo are uncertain exactly how it was played. People stopped playing it around 1,500 years ago and the rules may have changed during the time that it was played.
However, a poem written about 2,200 years ago by a man named Song Yu gives an idea as to what the game was like:
“Then, with bamboo dice and ivory pieces, the game of Liu Bo is begun; sides are taken; they advance together; keenly they threaten each other. Pieces are kinged, and the scoring doubled. Shouts of ‘five white!’ arise” (translation by David Hawkes).
It kind of fascinates some of us.