Archaeologists from the University of Bergen excavated the remains of an Iron Age tomb at Ytre Fosse deposit, on the west coast of Norway, and made a surprising find for a grave: 18 tiles from an ancient board game and a dice dating back to the early 4th century AD
The elongated dice is of a very rare variety, exclusive to Roman empire between the 1st and 4th centuries, say the experts from the university museum.
But nevertheless, similar dice had already been found in Scandinavia in an old arms market in the Danish town of Fyn, where a board was also found.
This Norwegian board game with round tiles was probably inspired by the Roman Ludus latrunculorum, literally 'game of thieves',and was played by the Scandinavian elites of the time.
This variant could serve as a precursor to the best known Germanic board game Hnefatafl, from the Viking Age (750-1050 AD).
Scientists are confident that the results of the excavation at Ytre Fosse will contribute with more precise chronological data to the knowledge of the importance and social impact of this kind of games in local society bythe time before Viking expansion.
The location of the find is related to an important maritime route of the time along the rugged Norwegian coast that made navigation safer and allowed local tribes to tax the goods transported.
According to the researchers, the multiple burial mounds found around this area are «testimony of a political landscape»Which was made up of powerful clans that took care of the collection of taxes.