In the Iron Age they already entertained themselves with board video games | Culture | EUROtoday

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In September 2021, the Castro Curbín website (Arzúa, A Coruña) started to be excavated. It was a fortified settlement of roughly one hectare, constructed within the Iron Age (first millennium BC), wherein three housing buildings, a wall and quite a few fragmented archaeological items, primarily ceramics, have been positioned. Of all of them, the one which caught the extraordinary consideration of specialists was a “strange ceramic panel without parallel in the Iron Age of the northwest, whose interpretation has raised numerous questions.” The current research tells it The Castro Curbín ceramic board. Reflections on religiosity and board video games? within the Iron Age of the northwestern peninsula, signed by Samuel Nión-Álvarez, archaeologist on the Institute of Heritage Sciences, CSIC. In it he offers an account of the outcomes of the evaluation of this piece: it was a leisure object, which was buried and damaged for unknown cult causes subsequent to the city wall. It is the oldest discovered within the Iberian Peninsula.

The settlement of Castro Curbín, occupied between the 4th and 1st centuries BC. C., it’s positioned on the highest of a small spur, which gave it nice visibility over the valley of the Iso river and the areas of Ordes, Compostela, Arzúa and Melide. Their houses have been constructed with perishable supplies, so there may be hardly any hint of them left. The most seen is an oval room measuring 11.5 sq. meters, which had a stone plinth and an exterior ditch that delimited it. Its occupants carried out milling, dairy product processing and spinning actions, as demonstrated by the unearthed fusayolas (counterweights) and loom weights. Fragments of pots, Roman ceramics and amphorae from the Guadalquivir valley have additionally been discovered inside this development.

On the surface of what was the wall, a deposit of supplies was discovered that included stays of charcoal and a number of damaged objects, together with the board recreation, damaged into 176 fragments, which was made by hand. “The high level of fragmentation makes its morphological analysis difficult, without it being possible to define its exact dimensions, to which is added the absence of parallels in northwestern Iron Age contexts,” states the researcher on this article, revealed within the scientific journal Lucentum.

The piece is totally flat on each surfaces. The decrease half was used as a assist and lacks any sort of ornament. The higher one, additionally clean, had quite a few round cavities, with a diameter ranging between 16 and 18 millimeters. The distance between every hole varies between 2 and 4 millimeters. The holes have been in a line.

Reconstruction of the Iron Age board found in Castro Curbín.
Reconstruction of the Iron Age board present in Castro Curbín.CSIC

In addition to the board, the specialists discovered 25 items made with the identical materials very shut collectively. Their obverses seem flat and polygonal, whereas the reverse of the items is round. They have been in all probability made with a mould. Its diameter coincides precisely with that of the holes within the board.

Finally, the archaeologists discovered a number of different ceramic fragments with which they have been capable of reconstruct one other flat object, just like the board, with a clean decrease half and an higher half with a barely curved edge and missing any sort of cavity. They doubt the usefulness of this object, which could possibly be the sport cowl to guard it, a separate piece, or a container for chips.

Nión-Álvarez guidelines out that the board recreation – for technical, laboratory and microfluorescence evaluation causes – corresponds to a casting mould for small bronze objects or was a part of a furnace, as is the case with the few items with holes which might be recognized. for this time.

On the opposite, the ceramic board “is quite similar to different examples of prehistoric board games, such as bill of Egyptian origin from the Cypriot Bronze Age, the repent grammai from classical Greece, the Neolithic board found on the Kenyan plateau of Laikipia or the possible bike Neolithic from Ain Ghazal (Jordan), perhaps the oldest known playful expressions.” For this motive, the research by the archaeologist from the Institute of Heritage Sciences maintains that “the Curbín board would, therefore, be one of the oldest recreational expressions known in the Iberian Peninsula.”

Nión-Álvarez suspects that it was deposited exterior the wall to focus on its symbolism in cultural and id phrases. “In the interior forts, it is relatively common for votive deposits to be made around the walls. The choice of these spaces is not coincidental, because beyond their defensive value, they are a true community monument that embodies the identity of the town and represents its cohesion as a community. It is logical that religious activities are structured around it.” And he provides: “To a certain extent, board games only seek to metaphorically simplify the dimensions of reality, being representative of the worldview of the community that creates them, strengthening intra-community ties and reinforcing collective identities.”

Esther Rodrigo Requena, from the Classical Archeology Team of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and scholar of the Roman board recreation present in 2019 in Segarra (Lleida), considers that “the chronology of the Nión-Álvarez study is correct, so it would be the oldest known board from Hispania”. “It is another thing that it is. I can't say that one hundred percent, but it has chips.”

The research project is still active. In October 2023, a new intervention was carried out, financed by the Council of Arzúa and which is not yet completed. In this campaign, Nión-Álvarez, together with experts from the archaeological consultancy Antiga: Arqueoloxía e Patrimony, have delved deeper into the characteristics of these pieces. “We have found 40 more tokens, we believe we have identified their manufacturing process on site and maybe we've found a new game board. But it's early,” the CSIC researcher leaves within the air.

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