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Archaeologists Find Rare Medieval Board Game Pieces in Germany

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Photo: Archaeologists Find Rare Medieval Board Game Pieces in Germany. Source: University of Tübingen
Photo: Archaeologists Find Rare Medieval Board Game Pieces in Germany. Source: University of Tübingen

In an abandoned castle in southern Germany, archaeologists have discovered a collection of medieval gaming items. Among them are a well-preserved chessboard, chess pieces and dice dating back to the 11th-12th centuries A.D. Scientists note that these finds, especially chess, are extremely rare for Central Europe at that time, Arkeonews reports.



The scientists report that they have found a well-preserved chess knight figure, four other flower-shaped figures (which could be pawns), and a dice with six eyes. The horse figurine is 4 cm high, has a bright shape, distinctive eyes and mane. Such a complex design is typical of particularly high-quality chess pieces of this period. Researchers say these objects may have been made from animal horns, particularly deer.



The artefacts were found under the rubble of the wall of an unknown castle in the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg. The researchers assume that they were lost or deliberately hidden, and thanks to the high-quality coating and the fact that they were always protected from the weather, the items are well-preserved.



‘The discovery came as a complete surprise to us, and the horse-shaped knight figurine is a highlight,’ said Dr Lucas Werther of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI).



The scientists conducted a detailed study of the found figures. Laboratory analyses of paint residues show that one side was painted red. Typical wear marks indicate that the horse was lifted, as it is today, during the move, which indicates an amazing continuity in the rules of the game.



Archaeologists are confident that by carefully studying the found pieces, they will be able to learn more about the sources of European chess culture and learn about the leisure activities of the medieval nobility.



As reported by The Gaze, stone tools found in western Ukraine, more than 1 million years old, may be the oldest evidence of human presence in Europe.

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