According to this AFP article on Yahoo
, and to this article from the Persian Journal
, an ancient Backgammon set has been found in the 5000 year old "Burnt City" ruins of Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan province. The set sounds very beautiful, with the board made from ebony that was probably imported from India, and playing pieces made from locally quarried agate and turquoise stone. The Persian Journal article features a haunting picture of two streaked die, their number dots now empty little hollows. 60 pieces were unearthed with the set, instead of the modern 30, leading to speculation that rules were somewhat different than the ones we use. I'm wondering if their owner was merely paranoid about losing pieces. This set is supposed to predate a set previously found in Mesopotamian ruins by at least 100 years. Backgammon's rival for oldest board game is the Chinese Game of Go
. Says the Persian Journal article: [Experts
] are also intrigued that inhabitants of ancient civilizations, widely believed to be concerned with their daily survival, could afford to indulge in such luxuries as playing board games.
The idea of ancient Baluchis meeting for board game nights not unlike the ones I indulge in is quite charming. Did they listen to music and pass around sweets while they watched each other play? How do you say "Happy Feet
" in archaic Farsi?
Actually, I should take up backgammon again. I have a nice magnetic set with its own carrying case sitting in my desk drawer; when I was a child I used to play backgammon with my grandmother.