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Ever wonder how the knights of yore used to pass the time? Wonder no more! Thanks to Russian archaeologists digging deep in a 13th-century castle’s crypt, a curious discovery was made that may give us a hint into the minds of these medieval men.

It’s no monopoly

Inscribed on sandstone and buried deep in a hidden chamber of the Vyborg Castle, archaeologists unearthed what’s believed to be a (very) early Russian board game! The curious artifact displays a series of interlocking squares and symbols and is thought to be a type of “Nine Men’s Morris” game that was played by knights trying to stay awake or fill the long nights on guard.

It was also found alongside a purse containing dozens of copper coins, perhaps showing these ancient Russians were quite the gamblers!

Nine men’s what now?

According to experts, Nine Men’s Morris was the game of the Dark Ages. It was like checkers, utilizing a grid that two or more players would play on, trying to beat the other person by moving their pieces off the board. It was so popular, that many carved game boards have been uncovered in different cathedrals, including Canterbury and Westminster Abbey.

Many scientists and historians claim it is the world’s oldest game, with versions being found in Turkey, Rome, and Egypt. It seems like ancients all over the world played Nine Men’s Morris, even bored Russian knights!

What will we find out next?

With this discovery comes new musings of how else Russian knights may have passed the time. Did they have some kind of dice game or a set of roughly made cards to play against each other? Maybe they had ancient fight clubs!

They were constantly suited up, after all. Hopefully, new archaeological missions will continue to reveal secrets of the medieval way of life, and we cannot wait!