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20 April 2008
Ancient board-games and a compass-rose unearthed in Iran

An ancient four-pointed compass-rose showing directions of 'four cardinal points' and a number of board-games carved on rocks have been discovered in the Iranian island of Kharg in the Persian Gulf. The relics were studied and their ancient origins identified by Dr Reza Moradi Ghiasabadi. "The engravings are between 2000 and 3000 years old. The first discovered carving is located beside an ancient road which is a four-pointed compass-rose showing directions of four cardinal points within a square-shape with rounded angles setting, 50x50cm in diameters. Some sections of the compass-rose have been damaged, apparently as the result of a cracks in the rock," said Ghiasabadi. "the compass-rose's lines have been placed in a position to determine the cardinal points, which have only two degrees of error from the true position," he added.
     The remaining carvings which are board-games were discovered in the northwest of the island. The board-games are in a mixture of circular and oblong shape settings, in various diameters, some 4cm and some in 10cm in circumference. All these carvings engraved over the rocky-ground's flat surfaces. Thes are located on the hinterland at the top of the cliff overlooking the waters of the Persian Gulf.
     Archaeologists had previously discovered wooden game boards at the 5200-year-old Burnt City, near the city of Zabol in Sistan-Baluchestan Province, and a similar game board made of stone in Kermanshah.  The Khark game boards have been created in different shapes and are something like modern backgammon boards, Moradi Ghiasabadi stated. He has identified seven types of ancient game board on the island so far.
     Archaeologists have always believed the oldest settlement on the island dates back to Parthian dynastic era (248 BCE-224 CE), but as the result of a discovery in November 2007 history of the island was re-written, as the archaeologists have discovered an inscription in Old-Persian cuneiform, dated to the Achaemenid dynasty (550-330 BCE). Since its discovery, the rock-inscription has been left unprotected in its original place at the mercy of looters, vandals, and harsh weather. 

Source: CAIS (19 April 2008), Tehran Times (20 April 2008)

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