5,000-Year Old Board Game Pieces Unearthed In Turkey

August 15, 2013


This is a shot of the around 5,000-year old board game tokens recently unearthed at Başur Höyük, in southeast Turkey, making them the oldest known game pieces ever discovered. Any idea what they were playing? Chutes and Ladders? D&D? The Game of Life? I'm going to be a warrior and have eight kids and live in a hut.

"Some depict pigs, dogs and pyramids, others feature round and bullet shapes. We also found dice as well as three circular tokens made of white shell and topped with a black round stone," Haluk Sağlamtimur of Ege University in İzmir, Turkey, told Discovery News.

...our gaming pieces were found all together in the same cluster. It's a unique finding, a rather complete set of a chess like game. We are puzzling over its strategy," he added.

The find confirms that board games likely originated and spread from the Fertile Crescent regions and Egypt more than 5,000 years ago (Senet from predynastic Egypt is considered the world's oldest game board). The tokens were accompanied by badly preserved wooden pieces or sticks. Sağlamtimur hopes they'll provide some hints on the rules and logic behind the game.

"According to distribution, shape and numbers of the stone pieces, it appears that the game is based on the number 4," he said.

Hey, I'd play it with you. But only if you agree to play by MY RULES. And in my rules I always win. Yeah, and the loser has to strip down to their underwear and run around the table yelling 'YOU'RE THE WINNER, YOU'RE THE BEST!' until I roll snake eyes. "But where are the dice?" This isn't a dice game, we use a spinner. "Sooooo?" So I'd start stretching if I were you.

Thanks to E V I L A R E S, who's so evil he ends every board game prematurely with a rage-quit and table flip. Heck yeah!

  • Eizo

    Three of the figure sets have four figures, but all of the figure sets are in the multiplication table for number twelve (if the ones in the picture are all of them). Wouldn't it be more resonable to think that the game is based around number twelve, instead of number four? The number twelve was centric in (some) ancient numeral systems and religions, and still affect us today. https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...

  • JT Caban

    Interstellar Pig!

  • Hemotep casts magic missile at the pig beast.

  • Brandon

    I'm surprised no one has posted what I first thought when I saw the picture, after reading the headline.

  • John Wayne-Doe

    Bone-in turkey

  • MC

    Unless someone possesses the ability to read minds (yours in this case), we are doomed to an eternity of guessing until you reveal to us what your first thought was.

    Was it sandwiches?

  • Brandon

    I'm not asking anyone to guess.

  • galvatron


  • Brandon


  • Sandwiches?

  • Brandon


  • jeffrey jakubowski

    that piece in the middle an ancient everlasting gobstopper??

  • Elak Swindell

    A future time traveler got stuck in the past and was bored. So, he created a board game to play with the resident natives of the area. Problem is, all the damn hair dressers, telephone sanitizers, board executives and other people from the nearby crashed Ark ruined the game with their own rules, which was screw the board and pieces, let's play with sticks. :)

  • In the jungle you must wait,
    'til the dice read five or eight

  • MC

    Ah, I believe we are looking at a 5000 year old action figure set. Featuring:

    The Mighty-Malnourished-Mesopotamian Pig Rangers,

    The White Cone-Heads of Istanbul,

    and the Evil Captain Bumpy-Blob of Bursa.

  • Tyler AitchKay

    How long before Hasbro turns THIS into a movie?

  • Tomfoolery

    anyone else getting a prometheus/alien vibe? Maybe the engineers played this board game? My guess is that it was probably better than prometheus.

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