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In quest for the lost gamers: An investigation of board gaming in Scania, during the Iron and Middle Ages

In quest for the lost gamers: An investigation of board gaming in Scania, during the Iron and Middle Ages



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In quest for the lost gamers: An investigation of board gaming in Scania, during the Iron and Middle Ages

By Oskar Spjuth

Master’s Thesis, Lund University, 2012

Abstract: Board games has to a large degree, been studied based on historical sources. Ironically, this is true even for prehistoric games, where the Icelandic sagas have been used as a starting point for a deductive hunt for the mysterious game Hnefatafl. Later studies of gaming have to a large extent been transferring older research results. According to the author, this has created a rather skewed picture of historic games, which he means to problemise.

The author of this thesis will use gaming material from Scania as a starting point for an inductive study. Both archaeological and historical sources will be used as a basis for the results, but due to the over-representation of historical studies on the subject, the archaeological material will be given far more room in this study.

For the analysis of the Scanian material, studies from the whole Scandinavia will be used as a comparison material. The objective of the thesis will be to connect gaming items to their user, and to shed some light on what made persons of the past take up gaming. The author manages to deconstruct many of the widely accepted interpretations about historic and prehistoric gaming.

Checkered gaming boards from the Iron Age cannot be accepted without question as being used for Hnefatafl, Chess was not a game for knights alone, and women and children might have had an even bigger part of the evolution of board games than previously acknowledged.


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