The Persian Journal reports:
The oldest backgammon in the world along with 60 pieces has been
unearthed beneath the rubbles of the legendary Burnt City in
Sistan-Baluchistan province, southeastern Iran.
Iranian archeologists working on the relics of the 5,000-year-old civilization argue this backgammon is much older than the one already discovered in Mesopotamia and their evidence is strong enough to claim the board game was first played in the Burnt City and then transferred to other civilizations.
"The backgammon reveals intriguing clues to the lifestyle of those people," said Mansour Sajjadi, head of the research team.
"The board is rectangular and made of ebony, which did not grow in Sistan and merchants used to import it from India."
He added the board features an engraved serpent coiling around itself
for 20 times, thus producing 20 slots for the game, more affectionately
known in Persian as Nard. The engraving, artistically done, indicates
artisans in the Burnt City were masters of the craft.
"The 60 pieces were also unearthed inside a terracotta vessel beside
the board. They were made of common stones quarried in the city,
including agate and turquoise," Sajjadi added.
Experts still wonder why they played the game with 60 pieces and are trying to discern its rules, but it at least shows it is 100-200 years older than the one discovered in Mesopotamia.
I can't wait for a picture of the board itself!