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Minoan games and game boards

Hillbom, Niklas LU (2005)
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Spel och spelbräden har fått lite uppmärksamhet av forskare som undersöker de antika kulturerna. Denna avhandling samlar och analyserar arkeologiskt spelmaterial från bronsålderns Kreta, definierar forskningsfältet och presenterar ett ramverk med materialavgränsningar och typologier. Vidare undersöks spelandet som en del av socialhistorien. Varje del i avhandlingen - som även publiceras separat - fokuserar på ett specifikt material.



Figurer formade av skålgropar (cup-holes) är organiserade i en databas och statistiska jämförelser samt analyser av utseende och placering visar att de flesta av dem var till för att spela spel på. Groparna är ofta huggna i stenläggningen vid lätt... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Spel och spelbräden har fått lite uppmärksamhet av forskare som undersöker de antika kulturerna. Denna avhandling samlar och analyserar arkeologiskt spelmaterial från bronsålderns Kreta, definierar forskningsfältet och presenterar ett ramverk med materialavgränsningar och typologier. Vidare undersöks spelandet som en del av socialhistorien. Varje del i avhandlingen - som även publiceras separat - fokuserar på ett specifikt material.



Figurer formade av skålgropar (cup-holes) är organiserade i en databas och statistiska jämförelser samt analyser av utseende och placering visar att de flesta av dem var till för att spela spel på. Groparna är ofta huggna i stenläggningen vid lätt tillgängliga, allmänna platser, såsom gatuhörn, utomhustrappor och torg. Några möjliga spel kan identifieras, t. ex. "12-rings"-spelet och "10/2"-spelet. Opublicerade utgrävningsdokument visar att det även fanns ett "3x10"-spel på Kreta, besläktat med senet-spelet från Egypten. Undersökningen av det stora, exklusiva bräddspelet från Knossos fokuserar på såväl dess detaljer, generella layout och interna logik. Flera drag och idéer som finns hos andra spel från bronsåldern kan vara representerade även på detta bräde, t. ex. separata, säkra startfält, gemensamma spelytor där pjäserna möts, svåra passager och slutspelsområden. Vidare undersöker avhandlingen alla tänkbara småfynd som kan ha varit förknippade med spel och spelande. Följande kategorier ingår: spelmarker, pjäser, spelbrickor, tärningar samt spelrelaterade avbilningar. Varje typ av föremål undersöks för att se hur troligt det är att det rör sig om ett spelobjekt, eller om det kan ha haft en annan funktion. Bland fynden kan nämnas små, koniska spel-pjäser, en astragalus-knota med olikmarkerade sidor samt ett sigill med det egyptiska hieroglyftecknet för brädspel. Europas äldsta tärning diskuteras för första gången och tidigare opublicerade spelpjäser presenteras.



Om modern spelklassificering andvänds på det minoiska materialet är det troligt att de föreslagna spelen hör till den positionerande typen av race games eller till undergruppen alinement games. De spelrelaterande fynden kan även belysa andra aspekter av det minoiska samhället, såsom offentliga och privata miljöer, påverkan och influenser från andra kulturer, eller förbindelser mellan spel, riter och religion. Det finns, t. ex., en möjlighet att spelandet vid vissa skålgrops-figurer ritualiserades och centraliserades över tiden. Spelmaterialet på Kreta producerades lokalt men var påverkat av olika influenser utifrån. Dessa influenser kom från Egypten och från andra kulturer runt östra Meddelhavet, men verkar inte ha spridits vidare till det grekiska fastlandet. Från perioder av starkare Mykenskt inflytande på Kreta finns det färre spelrelaterade fynd, och figurerna med skålgropar verkar ha försvunnit helt. (Less)
Abstract
The old, world-wide phenomenon of playing board games has received little attention among scholars studying the ancient cultures. This thesis collects and analyses game-related material from Bronze Age Crete, defines the field of research and provides a framework with definitions and typologies. A further goal is to use the results of the analyses to extend beyond the archaeological material and examine gaming as part of social history. Each part of the thesis - published separately also - is focused on a particular material.



The figures of cup-holes are organised in a database. Statistical comparisons and analyses of appearance and placement suggest that most were made for the purpose of playing games. They were made on... (More)
The old, world-wide phenomenon of playing board games has received little attention among scholars studying the ancient cultures. This thesis collects and analyses game-related material from Bronze Age Crete, defines the field of research and provides a framework with definitions and typologies. A further goal is to use the results of the analyses to extend beyond the archaeological material and examine gaming as part of social history. Each part of the thesis - published separately also - is focused on a particular material.



The figures of cup-holes are organised in a database. Statistical comparisons and analyses of appearance and placement suggest that most were made for the purpose of playing games. They were made on pavement slabs at open, public, multi-purpose areas, such as street corners and courtyards. The outline of a few specific games can be presented, e.g., the "12-ring"-game and "10/2"-game, and unpublished excavation documents show that there also were a "3x10"-game on Crete, related to the Egyptian game of Senet. The investigation of the elaborate Knossos game board provides a new understanding for its details, general layout and internal logic. Several, common game features found in other ancient games, such as separate, safe entrances, battle areas, difficult passages and end-play areas, can be found on this board also. Subsequently, all kinds of small objects that could possibly have been associated with games are investigated. The following categories stand out: "markers/counters", "pieces", "tiles", "dice and lots" and "visual representations". Each object is evaluated to see how likely it is that it was made for gaming or not. The finds made for gaming include cone-shaped gaming pieces, an astragalos with differently marked sides, and a six-sided signet with the Egyptian game board sign. The oldest die of Europe is discussed for the first time, and previously unpublished gaming pieces are presented.



If modern theories on game classification are used, the suggested games belong most likely to a positioning kind of race game or to the subgroup of alinement games. The game-related finds can also highlight several other aspects of the Minoan society the public and private spheres, possible connections to ritual and religion, etc. There are, e.g., possible connections between games and rituals, such as games played on cup-holes that may have been ritualised and centralised over time. We have a local production of gaming material, with various dimensions of foreign influence. These influences came from Egypt and from other cultures around the Eastern Mediterranean, but little seems to have continued to the Greek mainland. From the period of Mycenaean influence on Crete, there are less gaming finds, and the cup-holes seem to have disappeared. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Prof. Emeritus Hägg, Robin, Göteborg University
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
game, game board, cup-holes, Kernos, marker, astragalos, dice, Mallia, Phaistos, Gournia, Khania, ritual, cultural contacts, Ancient history, Antikens och forntidens historia, Arkeologi, Archaeology, Crete, Minoan, Knossos, gaming piece, knuckle bones
pages
359 pages
publisher
Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Lund University
defense location
Internationella Miljöinstitutet, Tegnérsplatsen 4, Lund.
defense date
2005-04-23 14:00
ISBN
91-628-6447-5
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
f4cbd851-d9ac-40f3-9e4b-b5f71e40bd58 (old id 544566)
date added to LUP
2007-10-13 12:24:45
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:02
@phdthesis{f4cbd851-d9ac-40f3-9e4b-b5f71e40bd58,
  abstract     = {The old, world-wide phenomenon of playing board games has received little attention among scholars studying the ancient cultures. This thesis collects and analyses game-related material from Bronze Age Crete, defines the field of research and provides a framework with definitions and typologies. A further goal is to use the results of the analyses to extend beyond the archaeological material and examine gaming as part of social history. Each part of the thesis - published separately also - is focused on a particular material.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The figures of cup-holes are organised in a database. Statistical comparisons and analyses of appearance and placement suggest that most were made for the purpose of playing games. They were made on pavement slabs at open, public, multi-purpose areas, such as street corners and courtyards. The outline of a few specific games can be presented, e.g., the "12-ring"-game and "10/2"-game, and unpublished excavation documents show that there also were a "3x10"-game on Crete, related to the Egyptian game of Senet. The investigation of the elaborate Knossos game board provides a new understanding for its details, general layout and internal logic. Several, common game features found in other ancient games, such as separate, safe entrances, battle areas, difficult passages and end-play areas, can be found on this board also. Subsequently, all kinds of small objects that could possibly have been associated with games are investigated. The following categories stand out: "markers/counters", "pieces", "tiles", "dice and lots" and "visual representations". Each object is evaluated to see how likely it is that it was made for gaming or not. The finds made for gaming include cone-shaped gaming pieces, an astragalos with differently marked sides, and a six-sided signet with the Egyptian game board sign. The oldest die of Europe is discussed for the first time, and previously unpublished gaming pieces are presented.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
If modern theories on game classification are used, the suggested games belong most likely to a positioning kind of race game or to the subgroup of alinement games. The game-related finds can also highlight several other aspects of the Minoan society the public and private spheres, possible connections to ritual and religion, etc. There are, e.g., possible connections between games and rituals, such as games played on cup-holes that may have been ritualised and centralised over time. We have a local production of gaming material, with various dimensions of foreign influence. These influences came from Egypt and from other cultures around the Eastern Mediterranean, but little seems to have continued to the Greek mainland. From the period of Mycenaean influence on Crete, there are less gaming finds, and the cup-holes seem to have disappeared.},
  author       = {Hillbom, Niklas},
  isbn         = {91-628-6447-5},
  keyword      = {game,game board,cup-holes,Kernos,marker,astragalos,dice,Mallia,Phaistos,Gournia,Khania,ritual,cultural contacts,Ancient history,Antikens och forntidens historia,Arkeologi,Archaeology,Crete,Minoan,Knossos,gaming piece,knuckle bones},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {359},
  publisher    = {Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Lund University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {Minoan games and game boards},
  year         = {2005},
}