Saturday, 22 December 2012

Family Fun

Well it's the season for family gatherings and with it comes the dreaded game of Monopoly, so here we have...

Image taken from the BBC
a Roman gaming board.  Well a fragment of one, discovered in bonnie Scotland.  It is thought that the board was originally 15 squares by 8, with each player having 15 counters and a king.  The game was called 'Ludus Lutrunculi' and we think it worked a little bit like chess or checkers. 

I didn't pick this artefact to tell you all about Roman games, instead I picked it to show a different side to those rotten Romans!  They are always seen as an invading force, imposing their customs on those around them.  We spend much of our time studying the impact they had on such societies, particularly in terms of military involvement.  We see them as building military centres, basing soldiers in areas where they were experiencing unrest and disruption to their overall plans.  One of their lasting legacies in Britain is Hadrian's Wall, still in situ it is a popular tourist attraction now, but, it has not always been that way; it was once a means of keeping away the unwanted and declaring the lands they classed as their own.  Despite this harsh and physical barrier a gaming board found it's way into Scotland.  This game shows the human side of the Romans, identifying that despite being seen as a military machine, they were people.  They were social, miles from home and on the whole very few of them are likely to be truly Roman.

So when the bickering starts on Christmas Day about who won, who cheated, which rules to follow, you can take some comfort in the fact it has been happening since the Roman Period!

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