Knuckebone Players - 1st Century
Alexander ATTENIESE

Fesco from Herculaneum

Alexander ATTENIESE: Knuckebone Players

Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, Italy


Knucke-bones and/or ancle-bones were used in ancient times for gambling purposes. These ancient forerunners of dice, were used in much the same way as tossing a coin, most often providing only two possible outcomes; and are known as "astragals" [derived from astragalos, which is Greek for turning joint].

The knucklebones game illustrated is believed to be a skill game that is ancestor to the children's game of jacks. But knucklebones were also used as 4-sided dice which were numbered 1-3-4-6. HistoricGames.com has some images showing the four sides and their values.


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