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Over the course of three field campaigns a team from the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and Texas A&M University excavated an 11th century shipwreck at Serçe Limani, Turkey. In the tens of thousands of artifacts recovered from the site, a number of gaming pieces were found. Study of these pieces, wight chessmen, a tableman (probably for backgammon), and a "die", is part of the general program of research on all aspects of the shipwreck.
The gaming pieces provide insight on a number of levels. The locations they were found in most probably are living-quarters areas of the shipwreck. The shapes of the chessmen suggest that their owner was either Islamic or in close contact with Islamic society. The chessmen are simple, hand-carved, wooden pieces. This simplicity makes them rare and important "common" pieces from their time.
The "die is no longer considered to be a gaming piece. It is almost certainly a weight, perhaps from North Africa.
The study of the gaming pieces illustrates the information which can be drawn from even the smallest pieces of an archaeological puzzle.
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