This Ancient Game Is Puzzling Archaeologists, But We Solved It

Rhykker

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Feb 28, 2010
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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 Turkey [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/tag/view/tabletop], 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.

[gallery=3012]

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 miniatures [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/tag/view/tabletop%20roleplaying] 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 [http://news.discovery.com/history/archaeology/oldest-gaming-tokens-found-130814.htm]

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Scars Unseen

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

crepesack

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CorrectAndDone said:
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.
 

Scarim Coral

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

Rhykker

Level 16 Scallywag
Feb 28, 2010
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CorrectAndDone said:
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 said:
And of course, the requisite XKCD reference:

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

Ratty

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

Devieus

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"According to the distribution, shape and numbers of the stone pieces, it appears that the game is based on the number four," said Sa&#287;lamtimur.
Goodness me they found Ludo.
 

Dying_Jester

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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.
 

AdagioBoognish

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Panzervaughn said:
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 said:
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.
 

Redflash

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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.
 

Sigmund Av Volsung

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Dec 11, 2009
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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.
 

Kuredan

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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"
 

BeeGeenie

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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."
 

Rhykker

Level 16 Scallywag
Feb 28, 2010
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Kuredan said:
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."
 

Kuredan

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Rhykker said:
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..."
 

Rhykker

Level 16 Scallywag
Feb 28, 2010
814
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Kuredan said:
Rhykker said:
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."