Archaeologists working in the ancient city of Kibyra in the southern Turkish province of Burdur have discovered a game board dating to the first or second century C.E.
Under the aegis of Mehmet Akif Ersoy University’s archaeology department, excavations were being conducted in the city’s agora.
The board belonged to a game called Ludus duodecim scriptorium (“game of 12 markings”)—XII scripta for short—which was popular throughout the Roman Empire. The name likely came from the three rows of 12 markings inscribed on most of the Roman game boards discovered. While not much is known about the rules, the game was played by two players with three dice and may have resembled the modern game backgammon.
According to the ancient Greek geographer Strabo, the early inhabitants of Kibyra may have descended from the Lydians, an Anatolian people (Strabo, Geography 13.4.17). Sometime in the second century B.C.E., the city formed a tetrapolis with three neighboring cities. The tetrapolis was dissolved in the first century B.C.E. and Kibyra was subsequently incorporated into the Roman province of Asia. Known for its ironworking industry, the city boasted a number of public structures, including a stadium, theater and odeon.
William W. Hallo, “Origins: Let the Games Begin!” Archaeology Odyssey, Winter 1999.
“Ancient Life: Shooting the Moon,” Archaeology Odyssey, March/April 2002.
“Ancient Life: Comic Relief,” Archaeology Odyssey, November/December 1999.
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