Playing Games With The Knucklebones Of Animals

Playing Games With The Knucklebones Of Animals

The game of knucklebones dates back to ancient times, although the exact origin is unclear. It may have originated in either Egypt or Lydia, and was eventually adopted by the Greeks and Romans. The game pieces were the ankle bones of animals like sheep, and they were used like dice or in a game similar to jacks. It was frequently depicted in ancient paintings and sculptures in several cultures. Although the bones don't include numbers, each knucklebone has six sides that can be differentiated and assigned numerical meaning based on its characteristics. Evidence also points to the idea that adult men, adult women, and children all played different versions of knucklebones.

02:39

from Rose & Pentagram Design/MacGregor Historic Games

Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    The game knucklebones is played with the ankle bones of animals. (0:17)

  • 2

    Knucklebones have been used as dice and in a game similar to jacks for a millennia. (0:41)

  • 3

    Toy companies manufactured facsimiles of knucklebones into the 20th century. (1:09)

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