A tomb in Slovakia dating back 375 years was accidentally discovered while doing some construction work. Significant discoveries included a bed made from yew wood decorated with silver sheets, a desk, and a unique game which is over 1,600 years old. The game consists of chess-like squares with green and white playing pieces of different sizes.
Archaeologists believe the owner of the tomb, a German prince, was about 30 years old and stayed in the Mediterranean as a Roman soldier for some time.
The deputy director of the Archaeological Institute in Nitra, Karol Pieta, who lead the research on the tomb in Poprad was stumped:
“There were plenty of board games in ancient times with many variants, but reconstructing the playing technique is a very complicated process that only top experts can solve.”
They called in an expert from Switzerland, Ulrich Schädler, director of the Museum of Games, who travelled to Slovakia. Schädler believed a playing board of a similar type had not been found in Europe yet and was tasked with trying to solve the system of the ancient game. He hopes to complete this task by the end of 2018.
Schädler had this to say:
“The board game from the tomb of the German prince in Poprad is a great discovery and contribution to the history of games in Europe. It’s the best preserved ancient wooden board game that has been found to the north of the Mediterranean Sea. Together with Roman glass playing pieces it was apparently a prestigious object that documented contacts of the dead with the Roman world.”
After analysis they found that the ancient glass was from the east Mediterranean, probably Syria. The prince was strongly influenced by the developed ancient culture which was demonstrated by his favorite game being placed in his tomb.