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The two-horned, ‘the Tower’ may be the oldest piece on Earth

This horned tower” the world’s oldest known chess piece. (Credit: John Peter Oleson)

In the game of chess, a rook can move as many spaces as it can be done in one direction only. Or, it may sit there stone-still and ensure that the pieces are around, it is possible to keep it of the ground for the whole match, or one thousand years (whichever comes first).

John Oleson, an archaeologist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, he believes that he and his colleagues have found a similar tower, which is located in the sandy bottom of an old trading-post, in the case of Jordan since the seventh century. Solid stone figurine, dug up in the ruins of an early Islamic settlement in 1991, and has a rectangular body with two horn-like projections on the upper side. While this may seem to be far from one of the crenellated towers, is what we call smoke, which is spot-on for the rooks in the earliest known chess sets, where the swift-moving bits were kind of on call, horse-drawn carriages. (The word “rook” comes from the “rukh,” is the Persian word for a chariot.)

As for the small stone figure, Oleson has been excavated, it is, indeed, a tower, and it is one of the oldest chess piece ever found that dates back to about 1300 years ago.

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“There have been references to chess-playing to in Islamic texts as early as A. D. 643, and the game became very popular in the Muslim world,” Oleson writes in an abstract to give a presentation about it. Since the game will probably run to the west from India by means of the movement of the merchants, and the diplomats, it’s no surprise, then, that in the beginning of the proof is to be found at a site on a busy route such as this, he added in a presentation he gave at the American Schools of Oriental Research, in 2019 at the latest meeting held in San Diego last week.

Chess is believed to have been originated in India about 1500 years ago, spreading rapidly to the west, and beyond. Oleson and his colleagues have found that the “tower” in the excavation of an ancient site, called Humayma, which sits along a prominent trade route in the southern part of Jordan, which is linked to India, the middle East, and the Middle East. Humayma has thrived over the course of hundreds of years, and in the shadow of many of the cultures and the structures on the site include a Roman fort, Byzantine churches, early Islamic mosque, and a number of stone tombs, dating from the first century ad.

It was at the beginning of the Islamic ruins that date back to the seventh century, in which the researchers discovered in the tower.

At that time, Oleson said, Humayma was the home of the rich and the powerful Abbasid family, which would eventually overthrow the leaders of the region, and to declare themselves caliphs (Muslim rulers, regarded as successors of the prophet Muhammad). The family will be informed of the developments in Syria and Iraq, Oleson said, and, it is reasonable to assume that they are the ‘early adopters’ of chess, all of it spread in the neighbouring countries.

Although it is impossible to say for sure that it is the small, twin-horned figure in a tower, and Oleson say that it’s the likeliest explanation, given the context in which it was harvested. The archaeologists are going to continue with the exploration of the Humayma other related artifacts, but their expectations are (wait for it) checking in.

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Originally published on Live Science.

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