Uneingeschränkter Zugang

A Boeotian Die in Context: Gaming Pieces, Jewellery, Seals, Spindle Whorls and Bird Bowls in a Female Burial of Status


The present paper presents a die in its archaeological context, which is a rich grave in the region of Boeotia. It attempts to understand with what other items this gaming piece coexisted and why, as well as who was the person who played with it during lifetime. The Boeotian die is a solid cube made of clay that presents a peculiarity in its numbering system, for the face normally bearing six dots features twenty-five instead. The date of the die in the Archaic period and the sex of the deceased can be established from its associated grave-group which comprises 48 Boeotian (mostly bird bowls) and Late Corinthian vases, minor objects, such as spindle whorls, and gaming pieces from raw natural materials (such as pebbles, shells, a terracotta animal in secondary use, etc), as well as jewellery such as rings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, pins, spiraled tubes, seals and rosettes attached on a -now lost- head cover. The age of the dead is estimated as young from osteological analysis, which situates our die and its gaming assemblage in the cultural context of the “mors immatura” in Archaic Greece. Dice among other gaming pieces are known from antiquity, yet undisturbed (and sexed) contexts of the Archaic period are rare. In the 6th century BC dice occur in sanctuaries; none is known from Boeotia, hence the significance of publishing one here in its assorted grave-group.