These small sculpted stones unearthed from an early Bronze Age burial in Turkey could be the earliest gaming tokens ever found, confirming that board games likely originated and spread from the Fertile Crescent regions and Egypt more than 5,000 years ago.
The elaborate pieces consist of 49 small stones sculpted in different shapes and painted in green, red, blue, black and white.
"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.
The playing pieces were recovered from one of nine graves found at Başur Höyük, a 820- by 492-foot mound near Siirt in southeast Turkey. Inhabited as early as from 7,000 BC, the site was on a trade route between Mesopotamia and East Anatolia.
Babel Stone/Wikimedia Commons
Archaeological records indicate that board games were widely played in Mesopotamia. Several beautifully crafted boards were found by British archaeologist Leonard Wooley in the Royal cemetery of Ur, the ancient Sumerian city near the modern Iraqi city of Nasiriya which many consider the cradle of civilization.
Dating to 2550-2400 B.C., the boards were associated with the "Game of Twenty Squares," a board game played around 3000 B.C.
Beautiful tokens used in the game were found arranged in a row, with the colors alternating, in another Ur tomb. The set consisted of seven shell pieces inlaid with of five lapis lazuli dots and seven pieces of black shale inlaid with five dots of white shell.
Much more elaborate, the newly discovered gaming stones were found in one of nine graves found at Başur Höyük. The burials revealed metal artifacts, ceramic finds and seals with different attributes and influences. This indicates the local people had close connections with their surrounding cultural regions, said Sağlamtimur.
Radio carbon dating traced the grave goods back to 3100-2900 B.C., confirming the Early Bronze Age stylistic features of the items and the advanced technological level of the local population.
About 300 well-preserved amorphous bronze artefacts were present in the nine burials. The nearly 5,000 year old artifacts were produced following advanced technologies.
The burial featured an abundance of painted and unpainted pottery, with several examples from the Ninivite 5 culture, which spread throughout the eastern settlements of the Al Jazira, the river plain of Mesopotamia which encompasses northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria.
"The findings at Başur Höyük add to our knowledge as they reveal a coexistence of traditions and a continuity of relationships between the settlements in the northern mountains and the Mesopotamia sites," Marcella Frangipane, a professor of prehistoric and protohistoric archaeology at Rome's La Sapienza, told Discovery News.
Tens of thousands of beads made of mountain crystal and other types of stones were recovered.
The abundance of bronze spearhead and other weapons, not appearing in the Mesopotamia Ninivite burials, reveal the presence of "an important warrior component," Marcella Frangipane said.
"The study of these findings, along with other discoveries in east-Anatolian sites, will allow us to reconstruct a new history of this crucial region which is indeed the meeting point of the most ancient Near East civilizations," she added.
Part of the appeal of horror movies and video games is the detachment one has from all those gruesome scenarios. If things get too scary, simply step away. However, a new video game seeks to sink its veritable meat hooks into gamers by literally plugging them into the game. Their only way to escape is to overcome their fear.
“Nevermind” was created by Erin Reynolds as part of her Master of Fine Arts thesis project within the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media and Games Division. The game uses a Garmin cardio chest strap to monitor a player’s heart rate to gauge the gamer’s “fight or flight” response.
Players assume the role of a “neuroprober” at the Neurostalgia Institute where gamers must recover the horrific, repressed memories of traumatized patients. Players must solve puzzles, find Polaroid photos and face nerve-wracking, terrifying scenarios to rid a patient’s subconscious of each memory. However, if the heart monitor detects the gamer is showing fear, then the game becomes more difficult.
“We wanted players to become aware in a very real way of when their anxiety levels were starting to become elevated and reward them for being able to manage that anxiety on the fly,” Reynolds told Gizmag. “We knew making the environment change so significantly that it would impact what the player was doing would get their attention.”
For example, one section include a “car maze,” where players are bombarded with disorienting imagery as they follow a car horn through a twisting labyrinth of wrecked cars. As the player’s stress levels rise, the imagery becomes more distorted until they can’t see.
“Some players become anxious over the car horn, others over the complexity of the maze, some over the imagery — there are a whole host things in this area that can rile up one’s nerves,” Reynolds said. ”The player needs to have a good grasp on how to calm down by this point in the game as it’s a nearly impossible challenge to escape the maze while scared or stressed.”
Reynolds plans on creating a Kickstarter campaign to launch the game in 2014. She and developers also want to explore the game’s potential use in therapy. Until then, checkout some stock footage of Nevermind in this video.
Credit: Erin Reynolds, Nevermind