Norwegian archaeologists encountered a 1,700-year-old board game when they dug an early Iron Age grave in the west of the country. The game is thought to be a status symbol in the Roman period.

Last month, Norwegian archaeologists excavated a small mound from the Early Iron Age in the west of the country. This scientific site, which overlooks Alversund with its monuments and tombs, played a very important role in Norwegian history. It turned out that the site in Ytre Fosse was a cremation site.

While working among pottery remains and burnt glass, archaeologists came across surprises: parts of a Roman-era Iron Age board game. Morten Ramstad from Bergen University Museum said that this was very exciting and pointed out that such discoveries were not much seen in Norway or Scandinavia before. Ramstad noted that they uncovered almost the entire game with dice.

Playing games was a status symbol

In addition to the game, archaeologists found bone remains that they thought were from a strong person. The nearby Alverstraumen functions as a strait connecting Northern and Southern Norway. The name ‘Nordvegen’ (North Road) given here is also known as the place where Norway takes its name.

The pottery and burnt glass found next to the bone remains here, which seem to have been placed carefully, indicate that the buried person has a high status. Ramstad says the ruins in Norway point to contact with the Roman Empire, these games are played for fun in the Roman Empire.

According to Ramstad, those who played these games in ancient Rome were local aristocrats or upper-class people. The game would show that you have time and money and that you have the ability to think strategically. The game is from the Roman Iron Age, which corresponds to 300 BC, and is very rare for these dates. In addition to 13 solid and 5 broken game pieces, there is an almost intact long dice. There are number symbols (0, 3, 4 and 5) in the form of a dot circle on the dice.

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The new discovery once again showed that the Roman game Ludus latrunculorum (reminiscent of chess-inspired) games were popular among the Roman-era Scandinavia top classes. These games are also thought to be related to the famous game Hnefatafl from the Viking Age.


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