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Both types have been attested at Tepe Yaḥyā for as early as the 3rd millennium BCE (Lamberg-Karlovsky and Potts, 2001, p. 99-102), since Ferdowsi’s nard is otherwise unattested.
Generally, two major types of counters can be distinguished; one type has a conical shape, sometimes with slightly concave edges, while the other has the form of a small disk. Fourteen of them (Langsdorff and Mc Cown, 1942, no. 471-84) were found in room IV.3 (storeroom), levels III and IV (Langsdorff and Mc Cown, 1942, pp. However, another game has been substituted for nard, which is most likely merely a literary fiction combining elements of chess, nard, and the Greek game polis with the aim of creating the ultimate game (Schädler, 2002, pp.
While most of these boards have the usual number of twenty fields, some boards have a central track of only eight fields (double-headed bird and scorpion-man), thus reducing the track for each player’s movements to twelve fields. A game of 58 holes appears on the other side of the board, like seen previously on another example. This game refers to two symmetrical circuits of twenty-nine perforations, each one to be completed by a player, thus making the total of fifty-eight holes on the board (FIGURE 7).
These boards have two rows of four fields (located within the wings of the bird, the pincers of the scorpion, and the arms of the scorpion-man) and a central row of fields running through the body and tail. 5), and therefore its identification as a game of 20 squares is questionable.
GIMS 658: black stone, 250-379 CE), a probably Parthian example from Nuš-e Jān still bears another system (Curtis, 1984, pp. The opposite points on the dice adding up to seven and the twelve squares on the board represent the seven planets and the zodiac.
In the , the game is interpreted in terms of Zoroastrian cosmology: the board symbolizes the earth Spandarmad, the black and white counters represent day and night, while the dice stand for the revolution of the planets.
The 2 and 3 dots are variously arranged: 2 dots can be arranged either diagonally, as nowadays, or vertically, especially during the Sasanian period, whereas 3 dots can be arranged diagonally, or vertically, or in a triangle. 169 e-g, numbering 1-6, 2-5, 3-4, dated not later than 280 BCE) and from Masjed-e Solaymān (Ghirshman et al., 1976, pl. GMIS 208: black stone, numbering 1-6, 2-5, 3-4, Parthian; Idem, p. The movements of the counters, their being born off and reintroduced symbolize life, death, and resurrection. Ethnography can help reconstruct some games, since many of them are still played nowadays (Watson, pp. Despite their popularity, the names and the rules of ancient games remain unknown. The form of the wooden board and the order of the individual spaces or fields follow the earlier examples from the royal cemetery at Ur (Woolley, 1934, pp. On the board found at Šahr-e Suḵta the fields are fashioned by the coils of a snake, carved in relief (FIGURE 1). It is generally assumed that the four squares on each side of the board served as entry fields, where the two players had to enter their counters. They have the shape of a brick with 3 x 12 perforated fields made as quadrangles (FIGURE 4). A slab from Susa bears the pattern of 3 x 10 squares and has three cavities on the side, which were probably meant for counters (Mecquenem, 1943, p. Sophie Erdös suggested that the anthropomorphic shape of the 58-hole boards from Susa refers to a cult of rebirth (Erdös, 1986, p. The player had to move the peg along the board/body to ensure the revival. Several examples including two bone knucklebones with one hole in the broad sides and one piece made of bronze and dating to the 12th century BCE come from Susa (Mecquenem, 1943, p. Children also used knucklebones for a number of games of skill that are played until now. 11), whereas the large faces, that is the rounded one (called “belly” by Aristotle) and the one with the deepening in the middle (called “back” by Aristotle), count 2 or 0 and 1 point respectively, thus clearly attributing the higher scores to the faces the knucklebone comes to lie on less frequently. e) Cubic dice made of bone, stone, or clay have been in use since the 3rd millennium BCE with different systems of distributing the points. Today’s expressions derive most often from a description of the board, as it is the case with “the game of 20 squares” or “the game of 58 holes,” both of which will be discussed further on. In December 2004, the finding of another board of similar design together with two cubic dice was reported on the Internet (“World’s Oldest Backgammon Discovered in Burnt City”). This assumption is now strongly corroborated by the zoomorphic boards from Jiroft. The quadrangles of row 4 and row 9 are filled with dots. The god Inshushinak, who received a few boards as gifts, had, among other functions, precisely that of delivering the last judgment of the deceased. A terracotta board from Susa (12.3 x 11 cm) exhibited in the Louvre (Sb 20908) shows a square crossed by one vertical line, one horizontal line, and two diagonal lines (FIGURE 12). d) Knucklebones of sheep (and possibly goat) and cattle, but also artificially made from bronze seem to have been commonly used as random generators (see Muscarella, 1974, p. The site of Nuš-e Jān, located about 60 km south of Hamadan, has produced a number of interesting knucklebones from cattle (Curtis, 1984, p. A similar numbering has been observed on a knucklebone from Geoy Tepe near Urmia in western Azerbaijan, dating from the pre-Islamic Iron Age period: it has one hole in the “back” (as the one from Nuš-e Jān) and two holes in the “ear” (Burton Brown, 1951, p. One of the earliest examples seems to be the dice from the settlement Tepe Gawra located near Mosul in northwestern Iraq (Mecquenem, 1943, p. At Susa, several numberings have been attested (Mecquenem, 1943, p. 40): a) blank-small circle-four identical faces (one side blank, one with a small circle, and the other four with an identical ornament different from the two mentioned sides; no. Green and Son Funeral Home is an independently owned family operated chapel serving the Greater Fairfield County Jewish Community since 1948.
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The reduced size and the fact that the boards appear to have never been used for playing suggest that the gaming boards from Jiroft had been intentionally produced as grave goods. This 30th post is sometimes surrounded by additional holes.