Biblical Archaeology Review 43:5, September/October 2017

Archaeological Views: Board Games in Biblical Gath

By Shira AlbazItzhaq ShaiHaskel GreenfieldAren M. Maeir

Psychologists confirm that play is just as critical for adults as for kids—not only as simple, unproductive leisure, but also as a mental and social catalyst. Board games represent a unique kind of human play. Millions of board games are sold every year, as people from different walks of life, ages, races and ethnicities all enjoy the kind of brain-teasing and social engagement that board games offer. And archaeology demonstrates that this pastime has deep roots.

Board games are the earliest type of game uncovered from the Biblical world. Gaming boards and playing pieces made of durable materials, such as stones, pebbles, bones, sticks, twigs and animal turds, have been found in all kinds of archaeological settings, showing that board games enjoyed popularity among all social strata of ancient societies in Canaan.

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