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5,000-year-old game pieces found in Turkey

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A series of small stones uncovered in a Turkish burial ground almost 5,000 years old may be the world oldest board game pieces, according to a report in Discovery News.

The black, blue, green, red and white stones were unearthed in a burial ground in southeastern Turkey.

"Some depict pigs, dogs and pyramids, others feature round and bullet shapes," said Haluk Sağlamtimur of Ege University in İzmir, Turkey. "We also found dice as well as three circular tokens made of white shell and topped with a black round stone."

Similar stones have been uncovered in Iraq and Syria but were believed to be counting stones because they were scattered individually.

"On the contrary, our gaming pieces were found all together in the same cluster," he said. "It's a unique finding, a rather complete set of a chess-like game. We are puzzling over its strategy."

The researchers don't yet know what the ancient game was, but Sağlamtimur said that, "According to the distribution, shape and numbers of the stone pieces, it appears that the game is based on the number four."