Turkey Dig Unearths 'Oldest Gaming Tokens Ever'

Archaeologists puzzle over game's strategy
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2013 4:55 PM CDT
Turkey Dig Unearths 'Oldest Gaming Tokens Ever'
The newly discovered stones.   (YouTube)

Bronze-Age chess, anyone? Archaeologists in Turkey have unearthed a handful of pretty, 5,000-year-old stone carvings that may be the oldest gaming tokens ever found. Featuring dogs, pigs, pyramids, dice, and other shapes, the colorful tokens were discovered in a burial mound filled with other artifacts, Discovery reports. "It's a unique finding, a rather complete set of a chess like game," said Haluk Saglamtimur, an archaeologist who presented the find. "We are puzzling over its strategy."

A tantalizing hint: "It appears that the game is based on the number 4," said Saglamtimur. What's more, the discovery seems to confirm that board games started about 5,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent regions and Egypt. People in ancient Mesopotamia apparently loved their board games, including one called the "Game of Twenty Squares." Many of its beautiful pieces have been found in rows with colors alternating, and pieces inlaid with either lapus lazuli or dots of white shell. (More archaeology stories.)

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