1. bookVolumen 16 (2022): Heft 1 (April 2022)
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2183-3311
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15 Dec 2016
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Catacomb Games: Reused Game Boards or Funerary Inscriptions?

Online veröffentlicht: 26 Apr 2022
Volumen & Heft: Volumen 16 (2022) - Heft 1 (April 2022)
Seitenbereich: 369 - 395
Zeitschriftendaten
License
Format
Zeitschrift
eISSN
2183-3311
Erstveröffentlichung
15 Dec 2016
Erscheinungsweise
1 Hefte pro Jahr
Sprachen
Englisch
Abstract

Several marble slabs fashioned like game boards for XII scripta/Alea come from Christian catacombs in Rome. Often deliberately cut or fragmented, they were used as funeral slabs. The general opinion is that these game boards have found a secondary use in the funeral context. The present paper presents a critical discussion of this interpretation. The slabs differ in several details from real game boards. Moreover, the inscriptions often betray a distinctive funeral character. Game boards for this game consist of three rows of two groups of six squares, their structure thus being identical to the poetic form of a hexagram. It appears that in Late Antiquity, the hexagram was particularly popular as a formula for funerary inscriptions. Moreover, the symbolic meaning of the XII scripta/Alea game favoured its use in sepulchral contexts. It seems therefore that at least a certain number, if not most of these “game” boards, were produced as funeral slabs and never used before as game boards in the home of the living.

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