Along with the compass, gunpowder, papermaking and printing, we may also have to credit ancient Chinese civilization with the invention of the precursor to Dungeons & Dragons.
Inside a 2,300 year old tomb excavated near Qingzhou city in Shandong province, archaeologists discovered the pieces to a board game that hasn’t been played for at least 1,500 years.
The items discovered included one 14-sided dice made of animal tooth. Twelve of its faces are numbered 1 through 6 in ancient “seal script,” while the other two faces were left blank.
They also unearthed 21 rectangular game pieces with numbers painted on them, as well as a broken tile that was once part of the game board. Researchers believe that each of these tiles was decorated with two eyes surrounded by a pattern of clouds and thunderstorms, according to an article in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.
So, what kind of game is this exactly? Live Science explains:
The artifacts seem to be part of a game called “bo,” sometimes referred to as “liubo” the archaeologists said. Researchers who have studied the game of bo are uncertain exactly how it was played. People stopped playing it around 1,500 years ago and the rules may have changed during the time that it was played.
However, a poem written about 2,200 years ago by a man named Song Yu gives an idea as to what the game was like:
“Then, with bamboo dice and ivory pieces, the game of Liu Bo is begun; sides are taken; they advance together; keenly they threaten each other. Pieces are kinged, and the scoring doubled. Shouts of ‘five white!’ arise” (translation by David Hawkes).
Researchers believe that the tomb was built for aristocrats of the ancient Qi state. It has been heavily looted over the years with a curled up skeleton found in one nearby shaft that could have been one of the grave robbers.
Who’s up for a game?
[Images via Chinese Cultural Relics]