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“Arcade” of ancient mancala game boards found in Kenya

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Veronica Waweru, an archaeologist from Yale University, has discovered an “arcade” of rock cut mancala game boards in Kenya’s highlands.

Mancala, meaning “to move”, is a turn-based strategy game where the objective is to capture more gaming pieces than the opponent.

Early variations of the game have been found in Aksumite settlements throughout parts of Eastern Africa from the 8th century AD, in addition to sites from Ancient Egypt and the Roman Period.

According to the Savannah African Art Museum, the earliest example of a mancala board dates to between 5870 ± 240 BC, which was found at the Neolithic site of ʿAin Ghazal in Jordan.

The recent discovery was made following a tip-off about tourists removing prehistoric hand axes from a site within a private wildlife conservancy. Upon investigating further, Waweru discovered an “arcade” of ancient mancala game boards carved directly into a rock ledge.

Determining the age of the game boards proves challenging since they are carved into rocks that are 400 million years old and lack any organic material suitable for dating.
Waweru said: “It’s a valley full of these game boards like an ancient arcade. Given the erosion of some of the boards, I believe that people were playing games there a very long time ago.”

Waweru also notes that the site contains 19 burial cairns built by herding communities that inhabited the region 5,000 years ago. Moreover, there are indications of knife sharpening on the rock surface around the game boards, implying that these individuals likely engaged in feasting and butchery activities onsite.

Waweru and her research team have applied for funding to further study the site, which is located along the equator in Kenya’s central highlands.

Header Image Credit : Veronica Waweru

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Researchers find that Żagań-Lutnia5 is an Iron Age stronghold

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Archaeologists have conducted a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey of Żagań-Lutnia5, revealing that the monument is an Iron Age stronghold.

Żagań-Lutnia5 was first discovered in the 1960s near the town of Żagań in western Poland, with previous studies suggesting that the monument could be associated with the Białowieża group of the Lusatian urnfield culture.

The Lusatian culture existed in the later Bronze Age and early Iron Age (1300–500 BC) in most of what is now Poland. It formed part of the Urnfield systems found from eastern France, southern Germany and Austria to Hungary, and the Nordic Bronze Age in northwestern Germany and Scandinavia.

A recent study led by Dr. Arkadiusz Michalak on behalf of the Archaeological Museum of the Middle Oder River has revealed two parallel sequences of magnetic anomalies at Żagań-Lutnia5 that represent the remnants of earthen and wooden fortifications.

The course of the fortifications were recorded in the northern, western and southern parts of the study area, however, a study of the eastern section was limited due to a sewage collector built in the 1990’s.

Exploratory excavations found four cultural layers with remains of huts and hearths, in addition to a burnt layer from the last phase of occupation that suggests a period of conflict.

According to the researchers, the monument was likely built by the same people who constructed the stronghold in Wicin and a number of verified defensive settlements within the area of the Elbe, Nysa Łużycka and Odra.

As a result of the study, Żagań-Lutnia5 has been added to the catalogue of verified Early Iron Age strongholds located in today’s Lubusz Voivodeship.

Header Image Credit : Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments

Sources : Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments – Archaeological research at the site of Żagań-Lutnia5

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Rare copper dagger found in Polish forest

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A rare copper dagger from over 4,000-years-ago has been discovered in the forests near Korzenica, southeastern Poland.

Piotr Gorlach from the Historical and Exploration Association Grupa Jarosław made the discovery during a metal detector survey in Jarosław Forest.

Upon realising the significance of the find, Mr Gorlach contacted the Podkarpacie conservator of monuments in Przemyśl and the Orsetti House Museum.

The dagger dates from over 4,000 years ago, a period in which objects made from copper were extremely rare in the Central European Plain.

A preliminary study indicates that the dagger may originate from the Carpathian Basin or Ukrainian steppe, and predates the development of bronze metallurgy for the region.

This transition is traditionally known as the Copper Age and marked a gradual incorporation of copper while stone remained the primary resource utilised.

Dr. Elżbieta Sieradzka-Burghardt from the museum in Jarosław, said: “This is a period of enormous change in the main raw materials for the production of tools. Instead of flint tools commonly used in the Stone Age, more and more metal products appear heralding the transition to the next period – the Bronze Age.”

Daggers during this era were a universal attribute of warriors, however, being made from copper suggests that the owner held a high social status. This is further supported by its size measuring 10.5 cm in length, which for this period is actually very large when compared to other metal objects from the same era.

The dagger has already been added to the collection of the Orsetti House Museum in Jarosław.

Header Image Credit : Łukasz Śliwiński

Sources : PAP – A dagger from over 4,000 years ago found in the forest.

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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