A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
An 800-year-old gaming piece unearthed in Tønsberg, Norway’s oldest city, has been identified as a knight used to play an early form of chess. Lars Haugesten of the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, the excavation’s project manager, explains that the object’s shape is similar to that of chess pieces found in Arabia. It was likely made locally, however, as it was carved from reindeer antler and is decorated with a number of dotted circles, which are typical of Scandinavian designs. The piece’s protruding nose identifies it as a knight. Haugesten says it may originally have had a piece of lead embedded in it to prevent it from tipping over on a playing surface.
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