In Oman, a board game engraved on a 4,000-year-old stone

A stone out of the lot found by archaeologists. Credit: J. Sliwa/Polish Center for Mediterranean Archeology at the University of Warsaw

Archaeologists have found a surprising stone in Oman. In fact, it’s a 4,000-year-old board game, but it’s mostly evidence of a civilization in the Qumayrah Valley in northern Oman during the Bronze and Iron Ages.

At first glance, it might be a common stone in the mountain valleys of Oman… But this one was carved with marks and holes whose position owes nothing to chance. Indeed, presenting an engraving grid of 13 squares, each with a central indentation, the archaeologists are formal: this game amused its creators 4000 years ago.

Games based on similar principles have been played in bronze age in many economic and cultural centers of the time. The most famous example of a game board discovered is that of Ur, unearthed in the royal tombs of the same name in Iraq, dated 2600 BC.
Archaeologists are now trying to find The game’s rules, which took Ur game researchers 50 years of investigation.

The Royal Game of Ur, kept in the British Museum. Credits: Wikimedia Commons.

A high place of prehistory

The discovery of this game, accompanied by copper, and tower-shaped statuettes, proves the richness of ancient civilization. The village probably contributed to the lucrative copper trade for which Oman was known. The archaeological site of Ayn Bani Saidah was once a strategic crossroads between Bat in the south, Buraimi and Al-Ayn in the north and the ocean coast near Sohar in the east.

These new findings reveal way of life of the inhabitants of several millennia ago in this little-studied region of Oman.

“The abundance of traces of the site demonstrates that this valley was an important place in the prehistory of Oman”

Teacher. Bieliński from the Polish Center for Mediterranean Archeology at the University of Warsaw.

The team co-led by Professor Bielinski and Dr. Sultan al-Bakri, from the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism of the Sultanate of Oman plans to continue excavations in the valley where the remains of Umm an-Nar culture appeared.