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Posts Tagged ‘ancient board games

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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 »

egiptian-goose

Egyptian gooses

goose-gamejpg

Ancient Italian goose game

In 1640, a new board game called “Game of the goose” appeared for the first time.
The game of the goose was published in Venice (Italy) by Carlo Coriandoli. The first stamp of this game represents  a family sitting at the table covered with food off all kind with a big roasted goose in the centre.
The name “game of the goose” probably derives from this first stamp, although many studious  declare that the origin of the name comes from the particular player’s habit of using the won money to buy a big goose.
Certainly the game of the goose  has ancient origins, that can be tracked down in many documents recovered in ancient Egyptian tombs.
The goose game represents in a board game the eternal struggle of good vs evil: the goose must defeat evil overcoming all the obstacles of the game.
The game board of the goose game is composed by 90 coded boxes (in the ancient one they were only 63) arranged in a spiral. The aim of the goose game is to roll the  two dices and get from square 1 to square 90 before the other player. Yo do this we have to be lucky enough to avid the penalty boxes.
The goose game is very simple and it doesn’t request particular abilities, the player wins with the fortune of the dices.
The game of the goose spread quickly in all European countries and was really popular especially among literate and intellectuals. After several years the basic model of the game was reinvented and evolved in many different versions called with many different names during our history: the “owl game”, the “war game”, the “travel game”, the “train game”.

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Royal-GameIn 1920 British archaeologist Sir Charles Leonard Woolley, during some excavations in the Royal Cemetery of Ur in Mesopotamia, found the rests of a Royal tomb full of ancient and beautiful finds.

In this mausoleum Wodley discovered several incredibly well conserved exemplars of an ancient board game.

This artefact was called the Royal Game of Ur and was made more than 2600 years before Christ:

The Royal Game of Ur is one of the oldest board game in history and is composed by two decorated boards and two different sets of seven pieces each.

This incredible piece of game’s history is part of the British Museum’s Mesopotamia collection and was played with pyramidal dices.

Like the Faraons’ board game named Senet, the Royal Game of Ur was a race board game in which the players had to reach the other end of the board with their pieces.

This game had a mistyc power for Ancient Sumers; they  believed that the dead person must play The Royal Game of Ur vs a spiritual entity in order to acess the reign of death.

This ancient Sumerian game can be played on the British Museum’s Mesopotamia website.sumer-map

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Board games have millennial history and have been played in a lot of cultures and societies.
The oldest board game in the world is Senet appeared in ancient Egypt in 3300 b.C.
Senet was very popular in the land of Pharaohs, especially among nobles and rich people, like this unique exemplar of this mysterious board game, inscribed with name of Pharaoh AmunhotepIII, is well preserved at the New York Brooklyn Museum.
senetboard-inscribedwithnameofamunhotepiii
The rules are still unknown to  but a lot of Egyptologist, think that Senet is an old ancestor of chess with its two different kind of pieces (maybe it was for two players) and its special squares in the board (the ones with the hieroglyphics inscriptions).
Senet was something like, the Ancient Egipt National games and became soon a mystic and religious object too: Egyptians believed that dead people had to play Senet against an invisible opponent to enter the reign of the dead. Many Senet playing tables in wood and ivory, with  drawers for the pieces under the board, were found  in  Tutankhamon  grave.
senet_boardgame
Nefertari too liked this board game, in this picture she was playing Senet.

nefertari-playing-senet

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