Voz de Galicia – english
They propose to inventore the medieval boardgames from Galicia.
The archaeologist Jose M. Hidalgo will lead a team to study furthermore those from Spain and Portugal.
The archaeologist Jose Manuel Hidalgo Cuñarro is for the inventoring of the medieval boardgames that have been preserved in various monuments in Galicia as well as other parts of Spain. This research is to be lead by group of Portuguese and Spanish archaeologists and historians of Classic and medieval art. When the inventory will be achieved, a detailled study of each boardgame is to be done to « distinguish new categories yet unknown and also show the variants of each games », said Cunarro.
« In Galicia, we have 50 to 60 medieval boardgames that have already been studied. They were games using war strategy. » he said. They are carved in stone and the most ancient ones date from the Roman period. Those are tabula latruncularia to play latrunculi.
Those games coulb be carved on rocks, near bridges, or other places in connection with waiting; water mill, « We are dealing with how did people use their spare time in those places; in castles too. Most of them were carved in the rock where the fortifications were built in their time; in meeting places for the neighborhood and in ecclesiastical places like the cathedral of Ourense in which 6 boards have been identified. 5 can be seen on the stone bench spreading along the Southern lateral nave, near the altar.
There, there are a twelve men’s morris board of 42×36 cm and another of 17x13cm; a third board, to play latrunculi, of 33×31 cm, divided in 25 small squares, all well preserved. Another board for nine men’s morris of 29×25 with 2 smaller squares inside. It’s an exemple of board suitable for two games, i.e. for playing also at three men’s morris on it. In this cathedral, exists also an other nine men’s morris board of 16x16cm. A sixth board is carved on a stair of the spiral staircase that comes from the southern part of the transept to the gallery. This latest is deteriorated.
Cathedral of ourense
Hidalgo Cunarro certify that the five first date from the XII-XIIIth centuries and that the sixth, from the stairs, may date between XVth and XVIth century. He said also that this latest could be, according to its lines, more a graffito than a boadgame. « The Cathedral of Ourense has got exceptionnal medieval boardgames. The southern stone bench is unique and of an exceptionnal quality ». Those elements have been carved to play. There was no better place for that than this where they were situated, far from the high altar, quiet place, almost hidden. Ideal for playing during the mass.
In the town of Ourense, another board is visible on a cornice of the Museum of Archaeology, an ancient episcopal manor and is of the type of nine men’s morris. There is another board of this game on the northern external wall of church of Touza, in Taboadela, on a re-used stone. And outside the church of Gomariz.
In the sanctuary of Santa Mariña de Augas Santas (Allariz) is a three men’s morris board at the base of a column, drawing that is repeated on a stone bench near the southern inner wall. Near the facade of this temple has been observed a nine men’s morris board.
«The cathedral of Tui also has got gamingboards on stone benches and one more climbing to its dome», said Hidalgo. There, they situated three nine men’s morris on the southern wall, in the stairs to the dome end in the chapter room. There is a three men’s morris on the northern part of the Cathedral. And a twelve men’s morris.
There are gaming boards on building stones of the hermitage of Nosa Señora da Renda, Combarro; in the one of the Divino Salvador de Poio and in the one of Carballeira de San Xusto, Cotobade. And in Santiago. There are references of gaming boards in Mesopotamia but those who interest the most Hidalgo and his team are the Greco-Roman ones.
Games of alquerque described by Alphonse Xth in his « Book of chess »
Alphonse Xth wrote about those games in his Book of chess, dices and tables. He sang the praises of those games played seated. Twelve men’s morris game illuminations, from the wise king, have been conserved in which can be seen armed councillors near each player. « Some of these boardgames carved in the stone might have had another function than the one of playing. Perhaps they owned an important symbolism, in relation with cosmology, as the one of the inner labyrinth », says the research director.
Boards for playing are located in aereas like Ségovia, Zamora, Catalonia, Cáceres and in Portugal, in monuments as the cathedral of Lisbon and Sé Vehla de Coímbra and in Tomar. France, Italy and England own some too.
Nine men’s morris is also called the game of the mill. It consists in placing three stones on the same line. This game was already known in Greece and the Phoenician propagated it around the Mediterranean Sea. It was played a lot through the Middle-Ages, as we have evidences in a lot of european cathedrals. Roots of twelve men’s morris seems to be in Egypt. « Muslims brought it on the Iberic peninsula on the VIIth century », tells Hidalgo.
A third distraction, the Ludus latrunculorum or game of the soldier, is mentionned first by the latin writer Varrón, this game might be oldest. It was also mentionned by Ovide. This game spread through roman legions.