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Lewis chess set

Ancient Lewis chess set

Currently, the oldest board game of the world is the Egyptian Senet, dated 3500 BC. Senet is mentioned in the Book of the Dead, the Egyptian funerary text which describes the afterlife believes of this ancient civility.
It was believed that winning players of Senet were protected by the tree most powerful gods of ancient Egypt: Ra, Thoth and Osiris.
The Senet is played on a bridge of thirty boxes, while on the back, a second plank of twenty boxes were used for another game called Tjau, but we don’t know with certainty the rules of the game.

king chess piece

King chess piece

Senet game board really similar to the chess one and for this reason many scholars think that this ancient Egyptian board game is the great-great-grandfather of the game of chess.
Four sets to play Senet, handmade carved in ivory, were discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1333 BC.
Another ancient board game is the chess set of the Scottish island of Lewis, consisting of 78 pieces of Nordic origin made with Ivory and whale bones. The Isle of Lewis Chess Set is a really piece of games archaeology and dates back to the twelfth century (1150-1170 AD) and perhaps, it is the only examples to date of existing medieval chess. Read the rest of this entry »

Old toys

Expensive old toys

Old toys and classic games are nowadays part of famous collections.
Trains, planes and cars models, dolls and dollhouses, rocking horses, optical toys, wood construction, and all other kinds of old toys and classic games are collected from nostalgics and amateurs in desperate need for a dip into past amusements.

Today, many old toys and classic games of our great-grandfathers, are considered   real artefacts , and are collected by many amateurs willing to preserve our history and traditions.

Old authentic toys (There are a lot of fakes in circulation) can be really expensive; for example the value of a rare small toy made between 1880 and 1940 can cost from £400 to £1500, and there are some unique pieces valued thousands of pounds.
Old Toys and classic games can sometimes be interpreted as a cultural phenomenon, that reflects mores and traditions of a particular historical period.
However some old toys and classic games, seem more fashionable than others, and probably contributed to shape a old but still alive cultural heritage common to many countries and people.
This is true also for old toys and classic games whose origins are lost in history, like dolls, rocking horses and toy soldiers, and for more recent inventions, such as metal cars and trucks models.
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Acropolis photo

Acropolis of Athens

Once, on the Acropolis of Athens ancient Greeks used to play board games. They used to roll the dice and play in the Parthenon, the great temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, protector of the city.

Ancient Greeks played Board games very similar to our checkers or chess, with game boards engraved on the floor.

The archaeologist Eleni Karakitsou reveals that during the work of restoration of the Parthenon were found about 50 boards carved on the stairways and the floor, but they used to be certainly more.

The famous image of Achilles and Ajax playing dice under the walls of Troy, painted on many Greek vases, prove that dices games were ancient Greeks favourite pastime .

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viking-paint

Vikings

The Tafl is an ancient Viking board game and also one of the oldest board games ever invented.
Talfl board game is the Nordic answer to the game of chess, but its board is larger and the high number of odds leads to a high number of variants to be considered at every move; this turns this board game into into a true exercise of skill and strategy.
References to Tafl and other board games abound in many famous Viking Sagas, however some of the rules are still uncertain.
You can find here a modern reconstruction of the rules of this ancient board game.

For sure we know that Tafl was a board game for two players very popular among Viking, Norse, Celtics and other Northern Europe populations, and we also know that the game consists of:
a game board of 19 x 19 ;
24 white pawn pieces
1 white King piece
48 black pieces.
Tafl it’s a strategy board game; a wargame based on attack and defence: like in the game of chess, there are whites and blacks pieces; whites comes with a king while blacks do not. The goal for whites is to liberate their king frome black threat making him arrive at one edge of the board, while for blacks, the aim is to capture the enemy king. With the exception of the king the other pieces are all the equivalent of a pawn in chess and can move how many boxes they want until you meet an obstacle and it is forbidden to move diagonally (like the rook in chess). As regards the positions of the king occupies the middle box and is surrounded by his pawns instead blacks are positioned at the edge of the board. To “eat”, a pawn must close between two pieces while the king must be closed in four pieces.
The first evidence of the existence of this Viking board game is given to us from the discovery of a Roman tomb dated 400 AD in the Danish island of Wimose: inside the tomb, researchers fount a little fragment of the Tafl board. In an English manuscript of the tenth century (more correctly dated to the reign of King Athelstan of Wessex, 925-940) is instead shown a table with the initial layout of all pieces and some brief rules for the game.
The full name of this board game is Hnefatafl which probably means “the king’s board”: The term “Tafl” comes from the Latin “tabula” which stands for board. Read the rest of this entry »

ancient roman puppetGreek and Roman games are one of the little known aspects of these ancient societies.
In Hellenistic and Roman culture skill games were a recreational activity both for children and adults.
Since prehistoric times is possible to recognize the so-called ancestors of games and toys among the archeological finds and in the works of Hellenic and Romans artists and poets:
We know for sure that in the fifth century BC, Crater, an Athenian playwright, wrote a play dedicated to skill games.
In ancient Rome writer Suetonius wrote two different books one on Greek kids games, and the other on the Romans ones: unfortunately all these works got lost and we know only a few certain things about ancient Greek and Roman skill games.
A lot of references are traceable in the works of philosophers, poets, playwrights who, helped us to understand that in every ancient game there was a deep educational theory to help and support kids development through the use of their skills.

In the ancient Roman world the expression “nuces relinquere” (leave the nuts), meant leaving childhood and becoming adult, because nuts were used by kids to play one of the most popular skill game in ancient Rome . The nuts were used like balls and thrown to to smash other nuts, just like in the modern bowling game.

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the board and the pieces of the Gomoku board game

the board and the pieces of  Gomoku

Gomoku (五目並べ) is a Japanese traditional logic board game, related with the game of Gobang (which uses the same board and pieces), and it’s also know in English countries as Five in a Row.
The rules of the game of Gomoku are in fact different and much simpler than the Gobang game and for this reason it’s a board game played mainly by children. But despite its simples rulres Gomoku is a strategy and logic board game more complex and difficult than Tic Tac Toe (also called Nine Mens Morris) and the modern Connect Four. Read the rest of this entry »


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