4000 Year Old Board Game Found at Azerbaijan


A pattern of little holes cut into the flooring of an ancient rock shelter in Azerbaijan reveals that a person of the world’s most ancient parlor game was played there by nomadic herders around 4,000 years ago, according to an archaeologist who has examined the find.

Details of the Findings at Azerbaijan:

  • The game found is known as Hounds and Jackals or 58 Holes.
  • It resembles the modern day game of backgammon.
  • The game was carved into a rock.
  • The game was popular in Ancient Egypt.
  • The discovery suggests that ancient bronze age nomads had relations with very distant societies.

Walter Crist, a research related to the American Museum of Nature in New York City, went to the rock shelter in a national forest in Azerbaijan in 2015, looking for traces of the ancient game now understood as “58 Holes.”

Ancient game board carved into a rock found at Azerbaijan

Ancient game board carved into a rock found at Azerbaijan

The game is also in some cases called “Hounds and Jackals.” British archaeologist Howard Carter found a game set with playing pieces made like those animals in the burial place of the Egyptian Pharaoh named Amenemhat IV, who is believed to have lived in the 18th century B.C.

The distinctive pattern of round pits scored in the rock of the shelter in Azerbaijan came from that very same board game, Crist informed Live Science. But the Azerbaijan version might be even older than the game set discovered in the pharaoh’s tomb.

Proof from rock drawings near this shelter suggested that it dated to the 2nd millennium B.C., or about 4,000 years earlier, when that part of Azerbaijan was occupied by nomadic cattle herders, he stated.

Game of Backgammon

Game of Backgammon

At that time, the game was prevalent throughout the ancient Middle East, consisting of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Anatolia, he said.

Locating a 4000-year-old variation of the game in Azerbaijan, in the UNESCO World Heritage credited Gobustan National Park, was something of a surprise, as there was no recognized proof the game was played there during that time.

The exploration recommends there was contact between the old occupants of the land as well as their far-off neighbors.

“It suddenly appears everywhere at the very same time,” Crist said. “Right now, the oldest one is from Egypt, however, it’s not by really much. So, it might just be due to the fact that we have not found it from somewhere else older. So, it seems to [have] spread actually rapidly.”

Crist was searching for the remains of another copy of 58 Holes or Hounds and Jackals that he had seen in a photograph in a magazine from Azerbaijan. But after organizing to fly there, he learned a new real estate advancement had buried the historical website near the country’s capital, Baku.

So, Crist examined other archaeological sites in Azerbaijan, which led him to the Gobustan National Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the southwest of the nation, which is famed for its ancient rock carvings and drawings.

Archaeologists at the park understood about the holes in the rock shelter, but not that they had been utilized as a board game. The holes are cut into the rock of the shelter in a distinctive pattern that reveals how they were used, Crist stated. “There is no doubt in my mind– the games bet about 1,500 years, and very regular in the manner in which it’s laid out,” Crist stated.

Though the guidelines of 58 Holes are unidentified, many think it was played a bit like modern-day backgammon, with counters, such as seeds or stones, moved around the board up until they reached a goal.

“It is 2 rows in the center and holes that arch around outdoors, and it’s constantly the 5th, 10th, 15th and 20th holes that are marked in some way,” Crist stated of the pattern cut into the rock shelter. “And the hole on the top is a little bit bigger than the other ones, and that’s typically what people consider the objective or the endpoint of the game.”

Players may have utilized dice or casting sticks to manage the movement of counters on the board, but up until now, no dice have actually been found with any ancient board game set of 58 Holes or Hounds and Jackals, he said.

While it has been reported that the game is an ancient forefather of contemporary backgammon, Crist turns down that concept– they have some similarities, however, backgammon was obtained from the much later Roman game Tabula, he stated.

The game of 58 Holes is old, however, it’s not the earliest yet discovered; the Royal Game of Ur, dating from the 3rd millennium B.C., is older, for example. Crist has actually likewise studied the ancient Egyptian board games of Senet and Mehen, which appeared beginning around 3000 B.C.

Ancient cultural exchange across vast regions

A main told Dr. Crist there was a comparable pattern in the famed UNESCO national forest, with the American archaeologist right away recognizing the markings when he saw the site.

Hounds and also Jackals has actually been likened to a very early version of backgammon, thought to be a two-player game with the objective of moving pens along a populated track in the direction of a finishing factor.

As there are no boxes with guidelines on the back, researchers can’t understand the policies or objective of the ready sure. Crist said making use of such ancient games throughout a large area showed that they had the ability to cross cultural boundaries.

Individuals are using the games to connect with one another,” he said. Games were kind of a distinctively human thing, sort of an abstraction– moving stones in blank areas on the ground has no genuine impact on your everyday life, except for the fact that it assists you to interact with another person.

So, a game is a tool for interaction, type of like language– a shared way of being able to communicate with individuals,” Crist stated. He presented his findings at the American Schools of Asian Research study annual meeting in Denver in November.

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