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Mancala at the pyramids of Meroe

  • Alex de Voogt (a1)

Game-boards carved on monuments offer an intriguing opportunity to track a certain mindset in time and space. In an earlier Antiquity article, the author showed us that mancala boards were carved on the Roman plinths at Palmyra by Arab soldiers. Here he takes us into Sudan, finding new mancala boards on the first-millennium pyramids at Meroe. With adroit detective work, he shows that these too are probably owed to military visitors, this time a group of nineteenth-century Turkish soldiers of the Ottoman empire—perhaps those assigned to help Giuseppe Ferlini to blow up and pillage the tombs.

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