Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

New Academic Paper Looks at Board Games in Ship Burials

King piece from Salme boat burial, and its owner.
King piece from Salme boat burial, and its owner.
(C) Mark Hall 2016

Sunday, 31st July 2016

This month, Mark Hall of Perth Museum published an article "Board Games in Boat Burials" in the European Journal of Archaeology.  This article examines a number of boat burials across Northern Europe, and hnefatafl is of course featured heavily.

The abstract of the article in full: "This contribution explores an aspect of boat burials in the second half of the first millennium ad across Northern Europe, specifically boat burials that included equipment for board games (surviving variously as boards and playing pieces, playing pieces only, or dice and playing pieces). Entangled aspects of identity, gender, cosmogony, performance, and commemoration are considered within a framework of cultural citation and connection between death and play. The crux of this article's citational thrust is the notion of quoting life in the rituals surrounding death. This was done both in the service of the deceased and in the service of those wanting to remember the deceased, the argument distills around the biographical trajectories or the different social and individual uses to which people put ostensibly simple things such as gaming pieces."

The full article is freely downloadable from its web page.


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