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11 December 2004
World's oldest backgammon set found in Iran

Archaelogists in Iran have said they have uncovered what they believe is the world's oldest backgammon set, which could make the country the cradle of board games. The game, complete with 60 pieces, was found in the ruins of the so-called Burnt City in Sistan-Baluchestan province the far southeast of the country. Located near Zabol and the Afghan border, the Burnt City is believed to have been built 3200 BCE and flourished until it was destroyed by fire in 2100 BCE.
     The report said Iranian archeologists working on the relics of the 5,000-year-old civilisation believe the set is up to two centuries older than previous discoveries in Mesopotamian sites in what is now Iraq. "The backgammon set reveals intriguing clues to the lifestyle of those people," said Mansour Sajjadi, head of the research team."The board is rectangular and made of ebony, which did not grow in Sistan and merchants used to import it from India," he added, saying the set also displayed a high degree of craftsmanship. However, he said researchers were still trying to work out why the set had 60 pieces. Modern varieties of the game have 30 pieces.
Source: AFP, Yahoo! News (7 December 2004)

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