Archaeologists have discovered a stone game board in Oman believed to be over 4,000 years old. The joint Polish-Omani team found the rare item at the site of an ancient settlement in the sultanate's Qumayrah Valley.
Located near the village of Ayn Bani Saidah, the find was described as "the most exciting and unexpected find ever" according to the Polish Center for Mediterranean Archaeology (CAŚ) at the University of Warsaw, which published the findings on Tuesday.
The project headed by Dr Sultan Al-Bakri and Professor Piotr Bielinski was entitled "The development of settlements in the mountains of northern Oman in the Bronze and Iron Ages".
Archaeologists discovered a 4,000-year-old stone board game whilst excavating a Bronze Age and Iron Age settlement near the village of Ayn Bani Saidah in Oman. https://t.co/74ynYRyZo6 pic.twitter.com/vYRov8tvdh
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As part of the study, researchers identified an ancient settlement from the so-called Umm Al-Nar period (2500-2000BC), where they unearthed remnants of large circular towers and Bronze Age structures.
The discoveries were made last month and in addition to the stone game board, evidence was also found of copper smelting. Bielinski said this discovery shows that the ancient settlement participated in the lucrative trade mentioned in Mesopotamian written sources. "Oman was the metallurgical power of that era," he explained.
According to Bielinski, while the find in Oman is rare, similar boards have been discovered from Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. However, "This abundance of traces of settlement from different periods proves that this valley was an important place in the prehistory, and perhaps also in the history of Oman".