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Gry planszowe Wikingów – rekonstrukcja gier planszowych na przykładzie hnefatafl

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Although they are mentioned in sagas and often shown on rune stones, old board games are a big challenge for researchers trying to answer questions about their actual rules. Exhibiting the remains of such a board game in a cabinet at a museum makes it a static object, not a socially functioning cultural component. It is harder to say how a particular game was played in the past (e.g., what elements and strategies were necessary), as well as to determine if the social prestige of that game was similar to, say, that of chess in later times. There is always a dilemma: whether we are able to reconstruct the rules or just to create a potential, not easily verifiable game image which is based on chronologically later principles. The article is devoted in particular to the reconstruction of the most prestigious of board games in Viking Scandinavia – hnefatafl. Boards and iconic presentations of this game are found in the whole area of Scandinavian influence and contacts, from the British Isles to the shores of the Baltic Sea. The game, known probably from the fifth century AD, was very popular in the whole Viking area, and only with the spread of chess did it lose its preeminence as “the game of kings”. However, this was not the end of its career, because, for instance, the first purely European chess set, the so-called Lewis Chessmen, was most likely also a set for playing hnefatafl. The rules of hnefatafl were reconstructed using the game rules from the eighteenth-century diary of Carl Linnaeus. This raises numerous questions concerning the credibility of the rules which are applied when hnefatafl is played today.
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  • Michał Sołtysiak, Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu, Katedra Teorii i Metod w Archeologii, Instytut Prahistorii, ul. Św. Marcin 78, 61-809 Poznań, Poland,
  • Michał Sołtysiak, Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu, Katedra Teorii i Metod w Archeologii, Instytut Prahistorii, ul. Św. Marcin 78, 61-809 Poznań, Poland
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