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The Archaeology of Games. Playing with Knucklebones in the Early Chalcolithic of the Balkans

Abstract : We will address here the subject of prehistoric games by looking with fresh eyes at knucklebone collections from Chalcolithic sites located in modern-day Bulgaria and Romania, with special attention to Drama-Merdžumekia – Karanovo V/Maritsa – Târgu Frumos-Baza Pătule and Isaiia-Balta Popii – Precucuteni culture . Gaming activities did not always leave identifiable traces in the archaeological record. Children’s toys appear occasionally among very old remains, as it is the case of the bone anthropomorphic figurines of the late Linear Pottery culture (5100 BC), for which a function as dolls for girls can be firmly supported. But these are only isolated cases. The great importance of the Drama Merdžumekia assemblage and of other assemblages from neighboring contemporary cultures, resides in the fact that they contain hundreds of game pieces, which provide the means to understand the issue of games in their social aspects, since it is observable. On these sites, games appear with frequency and intensity, as a common practice. Thereby, we push back the prehistory of games to the moment it becomes systematic, at the beginning of the 5th millennium BC, with Karanovo V/Maritsa , and Precucuteni in the Eastern part of Romania
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Isabelle Sidéra, Andreea Vornicu. The Archaeology of Games. Playing with Knucklebones in the Early Chalcolithic of the Balkans. Bacvarov; Krum and Gleser; Ralf. Southeast Europe and Anatolia in Prehistory Essays in Honor of Vassil Nikolov on His 65th Anniversary, Verlag Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH, pp.379-388, 2016, 978-3-7749-4066-6. ⟨hal-01548553⟩

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