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Wondering What Mysterious Ancient Stone Spheres Could Do? Scientists Have Solved The Puzzle

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Archaeologists from the University of Bristol have claimed that the puzzling stone spheres found in many ancient settlements in the Aegean and Mediterranean could be believed as game pieces from the most ancient board games ever made.

These spheres were reportedly discovered at various Greek islands like, Santorini, Crete, Cyprus, and various others. According to theories, they have many potential uses, including sling stones, throwing balls, counting/record-keeping systems, or as counters/pawns.

The university’s team had prior conducted research that pointed towards variation in size among specific clusters and collections of spheres. The researchers then sought out to investigate all the possible patterns within these sphere concentrations, if any, to enable them to shed light on their significant use.

Dr. Christianne Fernée and Dr. Konstantinos Trimmis of the University of Bristol’s Department of Anthropology and Archaeology recently published a study that studied similar characteristics on 700 stones that were found at the Bronze Age town of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini. The ages of the stones ranged from roughly 4,500 to 3,600 years old.

According to archaeologists from the University of Bristol, mysterious stone spheres discovered in several ancient settlements in the Aegean and Mediterranean could be game pieces from the oldest board games ever created.

Uses of Stone spheres

These spheres were reportedly discovered at sites in Santorini, Crete, Cyprus, and other Greek Islands. There have been several theories about their potential uses, including sling stones, throwing balls, counting/record-keeping systems, or as counters/pawns.

The same team from the University of Bristol previously conducted research that indicated there was size variation among certain clusters and collections of spheres. The researchers then intended to investigate any possible patterns within these sphere concentrations to help shed light on their potential use.

Dr. Christianne Fernée and Dr. Konstantinos Trimmis of the University of Bristol’s Department of Anthropology and Archaeology recently published a study that examined common characteristics on 700 stones that were discovered at the Bronze Age town of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini. The stones’ ages ranged from roughly 4,500 to 3,600 years old.

Smaller than golf balls, these spheres feature various colors and are made from different materials. Their study has put them into two groups, one group comprise of larger stones and the other comprises of smaller. Also, in Akrotiri and other settlements across the Aegean stone slabs have shallow cup marks where the spheres possibly could have sat for a long time.

Dr Ferneé said, “the most important finding of the study is that the speres fit two major clusters (one of smaller and one of larger stones). This supports the hypothesis that they were used as counters for a board game with the spheres most possibly have been collected to fit these clusters rather than a counting system for which you would expect more groupings.”

If these spheres are actually part of a boardgame, then they will be among the earliest such examples, like the similar ones from the Levant and Egypt, such as the Egyptian Mehen and Senet.

Dr Trimmis further added, “the social importance of the spheres, as indicated by the way they were deposited in specific cavities, further supports the idea of the spheres being part of a game that was played for social interaction. This gives a new insight into the social interaction in the Bronze Age Aegean.”

Applying a similar methodology to the slabs will be the next step in the research to determine whether there is clustering in the cup marks and to try to connect the spheres and slabs. The team also wants to figure out how the game was actually played using artificial intelligence methods.

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