Lewis ChessmenCarbon dating of walrus bones found in Iceland may lend some support to the theory that the famous Lewis chessmen originated in Iceland instead of Norway. The Lewis chessmen, discovered in 1831 in the Outer Hebrides, are made mostly of Walrus ivory and are one of the few surviving examples of complete Medieval Chess sets. Most scholars, focusing on the style of the carvings, believe that the Lewis chessmen were produced in Norway. An alternative theory, however, asserts that the chessmen more likely originated in Iceland because only there were bishop pieces based on church figures, as is the case with the Lewis set. Now some believe that carbon dating of a series of walrus bones found over a period of years proves that Walrus ivory was available in Iceland at the time the Lewis chessman were made.

Among the items found at the excavation of a Roman village in Gernsheim, Germany are dice and game pieces. The pieces date back to the second century and are made of bone [image credit: Thomas Maurer].

Roman Game Pieces from Gernsheim Germany

Mikhail Tikh was fascinated by the idea that dice originated with uncarved animal bones. Yet when he tried to procure for himself a set of traditional knucklebones, he found it quite difficult. So to make it a bit easier on the next person who might be interested in some hands-on playing with history, Tikh cleaned and scanned some sheep bones, then uploaded the 3D models to Shapeways. A set of four in white nylon runs $27.50.