Bone and clay dice

Trench art: killing time during war.

Bone and clay dice

In both ancient and contemporary conflicts there is evidence of a common custom among soldiers which is known as trench art. Besieging a fortress like Rocha Forte for years left room for much idle time, and inactivity undermined morale at the front.

Archaeology has found of evidence of makeshift pastimes of soldiers, whether it is at a Roman camp, at the front of the Spanish Civil War or while defending the castle of Rocha Forte. At the castle, game pieces that reused pieces of local or imported pottery have been found. Knife-cut dice from animal bone were also unearthed.

We know that Santiago, the destination of pilgrims from across Europe, was also a sanctuary for cardsharps and gamblers- impostors. Gambling was a regular figure of medieval fortresses. Indeed, on the walls, stone benches or ledges it is frequent to find game boards engraved. Many of these games were brought to western Europe though the spice route and the Crusades.

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