What’s the oldest board game you can think of? Probably something archaic and super boring like Snakes and Ladders, Chess or Monopoly. Sure, Monopoly isn’t as old as those classics but it certainly feels like you’re playing games from centuries ago. Having said that, there’s a long time between playing Monopoly and whatever this ancient treasure is. Odds are, this board game from 1700 years ago is probably still more fun than anything related to owning small plastic replicas of houses.
Discovered by archaeologists working for the University Museum of Bergen, this set of double-sided tokens and etched rods is believed to be the world’s oldest board game. Unearthed in an Iron Age cairn grave in Western Norway, the lucky researchers who discovered the find believe it to be inspired by the Roman game Ludus latrunculorum, which translates to “The Game of Mercenaries”, which many believe to be one of the first variations of chess.
The tokens discovered are pretty identifiable as pieces that can be moved around a board but what is perhaps most interesting is the rod, which is researchers suspect functioned as the game’s dice system. With only four sides rather than the contemporary six you’re used to seeing (unless you’re a colossal nerd, you Dungeons and Dragons fans out there), you can make out different “numbers” represented as small circles on the ends of the rod.
How was this game played, you ask? Haven’t the foggiest and we’re fairly sure even the archaeologists themselves have no idea beyond the comparison to Ludus latrunculorum. Still, it’s really cool to know that even 1700 years ago, our ancestors still had better taste than to whip out Monopoly when they were bored.