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History & Heritage


In Oman, a 4000 year old board game engraved on a stone

Archaeologists have found a surprising stone in Oman. Actually, it is a 4,000 years old board game, but above all it is the proof of a civilization in the Qumayrah valley in northern Oman during the Bronze and Iron Ages.

At first glance, it could 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 engraved grid of 13 squares, each with a central indentation, archaeologists are formal: this game entertained its creators 4000 years ago.

Games based on similar principles were played in the Bronze Age in many economic and cultural centers of that 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 to 2600 BC.
Archaeologists are now trying to find the rules of the game, which has taken Ur game researchers 50 years of investigation.


The royal game of Ur, kept in the British Museum. Credits: Wikimedia Commons.

An important place of prehistory

The discovery of this game, accompanied by copper, and statuettes in the form of tower, proves the wealth of the 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 to the south, Buraimi and Al-Ayn to the north and the ocean coast near Sohar to the east.

These new discoveries reveal the lifestyle of the inhabitants of several millennia ago in this little studied region of Oman.

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


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

See also

In Syria, the discovery of the first hybrid animal created by man

Published on 21 January 2022