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The exhibit

Palace of Knossos. 1700-1450 BC

The striking “draughtboard” found in the Palace of Knossos is a gaming board made of precious materials. The surface is formed of inlaid elements set into a rectangular base, probably of wood, which has not been preserved. The frame of the board is made of ivory plated with gold leaf and decorated with carved rosettes with rock-crystal insets in their centres. The surface consists of rock-crystal plaques set into blue glass paste and silver foil, separated by ivory insets. Four conical ivory objects, found just a few metres from the rest of the game, were probably the gaming pieces, as we see from their size, exactly matching the four large circles on the board. Similar games have been found in Egypt and the Near East, but none is as large and elaborate as the Knossos draughtboard. Unfortunately, we do not know exactly how it was played or if it had some special symbolism beyond the game. Arthur Evans thought it might be a strategy board game for two players. In any case, its luxuriousness highlights the wealth of the Palace of Knossos, the high living standards of its inhabitants and the artistic skill of the palace workshops.
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