Dec. 6, 2011
- Board games likely originated and disseminated from Egypt and the Fertile Crescent regions at around 3500 B.C., according to a new study published in the journal Antiquity. From there, they spread around the Mediterranean before reaching the Roman Empire and what is now Europe. In this image, the ancient Egyptian game Senet is depicted.
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In the U.K., no archaeological evidence supports the existence of board games until the first century B.C. One of the most significant finds shortly thereafter of early gaming equipment in Britain comes from the so-called Doctor's Grave of Stanway in Colchester, England. The grave, dated to 40-50 A.D., contained a gaming board with 26 glass counters, apparently laid out on it as if for play.
One of the key ancient board game finds is this set of Romano-British glass gaming pieces from a second- to third-century grave at Tarland, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The pieces represent a mix of indigenous and Roman influences.
Early playing pieces from places like Scandinavia and Scotland took on stylistic elements of the cultures of those regions. These face-decorated stone cones were found within a dry stone, hollow-walled structure from the 5th to 7th century A.D. Shetland, Scotland. The anthropomorphized pieces have a distinctly Celtic look.
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