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1,700-year-old board game found in Norwegian burial mound


This April, the University Museum of Bergen, excavated the remains of a small Early Iron Age grave cairn at Ytre Fosse, Western Norway. The location is spectacular, overlooking Alversund and the “Indre Skipsleia”, a part of the old shipping lane, Nordvegen, – which gave Norway its name. The whole area is dotted with monumental grave mounds on both sides of Alversund, symbols of an Iron Age political landscape and the power and control of goods and travels along the Norwegian coast.  

1,700-year-old board game found in Norwegian burial mound
The burial cairn site [Credit: UiB]

1,700-year-old board game found in Norwegian burial mound
Excavation of the burial cairn [Credit: UiB]

1,700-year-old board game found in Norwegian burial mound
The excavated burial cairn [Credit: UiB]



The grave turned out to be a cremation patch containing 3 ceramic pots, a bronze pin, burnt glass and 18 gaming pieces and an elongated dice. The dice is of a very rare type, exclusive for Roman Iron Age (AD 1 - 400). In Scandinavia, similar dices are found in the famous Vimose weapon-offering site at Fyn, Denmark. 

1,700-year-old board game found in Norwegian burial mound
Shards of pottery found in the cairn [Credit: UiB]

1,700-year-old board game found in Norwegian burial mound
One of the 18 game pieces (over and underside) recovered from the cairn [Credit: UiB]

1,700-year-old board game found in Norwegian burial mound
The four faces of the dice found in the cairn [Credit: UiB]



At Vimose also the gaming board was preserved, giving a unique view into Early Iron Age board games among the Germanic tribes in Scandinavia. Board games, inspired by the Roman game Ludus latrunculorum, seems to have been played amongst the elite in Roman Iron Age Scandinavia. These games are also the forerunner to the more famous Viking Age (AD 750-1050) board game Hnefatafl. 


The results from the Ytre Fosse excavation will undoubtedly contribute with more precise data on the chronology of dices and gaming pieces in Early Iron Age Norway and the significance and social impact of gaming amongst during these times.


TANN

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7 comments :

  1. Replies
    1. Yeah, dices. While a rare usage, it's not wrong.

      Delete
    2. I've never seen it used that way. In gaming, the singular is die and the plural is dice. In culinary terms, dice is used for both the plural and singular. The only correct use I could find in a google search for dices is in Spanish.

      Delete
    3. Doesn't validate use in this article, but "He dices" or "She slices & dices the competition" I believe are correct, but only for that particular example of present tense, from the dizzying array tenses available in the English language.

      Delete
  2. No such thing as dices as far as I know. one die, two dice.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Is this available on Steam yet?

    ReplyDelete


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