Medieval chess piece of a knight unearthed

A chess piece depicting a knight has been found in the remains of a house, dating back to the 13th century, in Tønsberg, Norway.

The 800-year-old chess piece (by Thomas Wrigglesworth)

The artefact was discovered in an area of Tønsberg known as Anders Madsens gate, located near a Medieval castle. The game piece is made out of antler and possibly has a piece of lead inside to help it stand on the board. It is richly decorated with circles on the bottom, several dotted circles on the sides and at the top. The protruding snout on the top has two dotted circles. According to researchers from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research it was used to play shatranj, an ancient form of chess. According to Lars Haugesten, leading the excavations, this knight is similar in design to chess pieces seen in Arabia. The artefact is the only example of a chess piece with an Arabic design from the region. Among other finds from the excavations are combs, ceramics and antlers.

(after Thomas Wrigglesworth, Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research & Live Science)

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