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Find of the Month: It’s All Fun and Games! – Bar Yosef Family

Family finds bone astragolos from the game knucklebones at the Sifting Project! Find of the Month!

Portfolio Items


Bone and Ivory Dice (2nd – 4th Cent. CE)

Bone and ivory dice of various periods. Six-sided dice have existed for millennia, with little change in medium or manufacturing technique from the Bronze Age up till after the introduction of plastic. With the exception of Caesarea, the amount of dice found in the Temple Mount sifting, along with those found in excavations surrounding the Temple Mount, outweighs that of dice found anywhere else in the country. A likely cause is the wet sifting technique we have developed, which is now utilized in neighboring excavations, allowing better capture of these easy-to-miss, small finds. Most of the dice from excavations surrounding the Temple Mount date to the Late Roman Period, which may provide a hint as to the date of the dice found in the Temple Mount’s soil.

Mamluk Glass Game Pieces (12th – 14th Cent. CE)

Marvered glass game pieces — quasi-spherical pieces of dark glass, decorated with trails of white glass. These pieces were used as pawns in a variety of games, including the game of chess. The marvering technique places these pieces at the 12th–14th centuries, the height of Islamic glass manufacture.

Rounded Game Piece

The sifting has unearthed over a hundred small balls, formed of clay or ground from local stone. These balls were often used as game pieces – either as marbles, or as game pieces in Mancala type games. Game boards with series of indentations have been found in many sites in the country and the entire Near East, from all different periods.

Limestone Game Board

A game board, etched into a limestone slab. The slab was probably part of a floor or a bench, engraved by someone looking to pass the time.