Jumanji? Mysterious board game found in China, not played for 1,500 years

© Carlo Allegri
Chinese archeologists have discovered a strange board game in a massive ancient tomb that’s been looted for centuries. But it looks like the thieves weren’t interested in game pieces that reportedly haven’t been played for about 1,500 years.

A dice, 21 rectangular game pieces with numbers on them and a broken tile which was apparently a part of a game board have been unearthed near Qingzhou City in eastern China.

The archeologists managed to reconstruct the tile, which was "decorated with two eyes, which are surrounded by cloud-and-thunder patterns," says a report from journal Chinese Cultural Relics, as cited by Live Science.  

The dice is made of animal tooth and 12 of its 14 faces are numbered from 1 to 6 in a form of seal script, an ancient style of Chinese calligraphy. Each number is written twice and two sides remain blank, the scientists say.

According to researchers, the game that ancient Chinese played using all these objects is called ‘bo’ or ‘liubo’. It was invented in the middle of the first millennium BC and was popular during the Han Dynasty, considered a golden age in Chinese history.

The archeologists still are not sure of the exact rules of the board game, as it hasn’t been played for at least 1,500 years.

The scientists also found a “curled-up human skeleton [in the tomb], which might be the remains of one of the tomb robbers," the report says.

The tomb has two large ramps leading to a staircase descending to a burial chamber, archeologists say, adding that they found at least five pits used for burial treasures for the deceased. Before the tomb was partially destroyed, it was about 100 meters long.

"Despite the huge scale of the tomb, it has been thoroughly robbed," the archaeologists wrote. "The coffin chamber was almost completely dug out and robbed, suffering severe damage in the process."

At least 26 shafts were dug by looters into the tomb, the report says.