Game piece

Game piece


2nd-1st- c. BC

Empúries (L’Escala – Alt Empordà)

Playing games is one of the most universal activities linked to free time and leisure. Children’s play stimulates learning and physical skills, but has also been an important feature of the adult world since very ancient times. In the Roman period we find a wide variety of games, many of which are still played today, including games of skill or chance where money was at stake.

The pieces linked to games of chance are dice, jackstones and other tokens of various shapes and materials. The Romans called board games tabula losoria. Depending on how the board was used, it could have been for strategy games, like draughts, or for gambling. You advanced through the squares on the throw of the dice, like a game of snakes and ladders.

The chosen bone token, which comes from the Roman town of Empúries, could have been used for this second option, although we do not know how the game was played.

On one side it bears the number 21 and on the other we read the adjective AVDAX (audacious). Seventeen pieces like this were found in ancient Vaste (south-eastern Italy). Each token has a different number like the adjective on the other side. All these pieces have a hole in their circular part, which was probably used to tie them together.

As game token, it is not as common as the circular bone and glass examples. Of particular note is the quality of the print and the good state of conservation. It was purchased for the museum in 1901.

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