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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Lost Game’s Rules Found in Marquis of Haihun’s Tomb

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

JIANGXI PROVINCE, CHINA—Xinhua reports that more than 1,000 bamboo slips discovered in eastern China’s tomb of the Marquis of Haihun are inscribed with the rules of an ancient board game known as liubo, or “six sticks.” Zhu Fenghan of Peking University said the two-player game was very popular during the Western Han Dynasty (202 B.C.–A.D. 8), when the Marquis of Haihun lived, but it fell out of use and its rules were lost by the time of the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618–907). Scholars know about the game from references to it in ancient texts and game boards and playing pieces found in Western Han Dynasty tombs. Further research into the bamboo slips could help archaeologists reconstruct how the game was played, Zhu explained. To read about archaeological investigation of much more modern games, go to “The Video Game Graveyard.”

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