An “arcade” of ancient Mankala game boards carved into the rocks was found in Kenya. They may have been used as a divination tool, a harvest ritual, or a record-keeping method.
The find was discovered by archaeologist Veronika Waweru, who conducts field research in Kenya, Arkeonews writes about it with reference to Yale University.
Mankala comes from the Arabic word Naqala, which means “to move”. In the game, users “sow” and “grab” seeds. Examples of this game have been found in Egyptian ruins dating back to 1400 BC. They were carved on the roofs of temples in Memphis, Thebes and Luxor.
Although the game of Mankala is thousands of years old, it is still popular in the Middle East and Africa.
|PHOTO: Veronika Vaveru
According to researchers, the oldest mankala board was discovered at the Neolithic site of Ain Ghazal in Jordan and dates to around 5870 BC.
The recent discovery was made after reports of tourists removing prehistoric hand axes from a site in a private wildlife conservation area.
While exploring the site, Veronica Waveru discovered an “arcade” of ancient Mancala game boards carved right into the rock.
Waveru noticed a series of shallow pits drilled into the rock. A few pits have already turned into spots due to erosion. Others were quite deep. The different degree of erosion of the pits indicated that they were created at different times.
This discovery led the archaeologist to the assumption that ancient people used them to play Mankala.
“This valley is full of game boards, like an ancient arcade. Given the erosion of some of the boards, I believe people have been playing games there for a very long time“, she noted.
The site also has 19 burial mounds built by shepherd communities that inhabited the region 5,000 years ago. The archaeologist believes that these things may be related.
According to Vaveru, the analysis of DNA material found in the burial mounds can indicate how the people buried in them are related to our contemporaries.
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