## The Boardgame of the Gospel (alea evangelii)

### Pachisi ... ????????

#11
Why I think, that it might be a sort of Pachisi ....

If you observe the "dots" (1-4 dots) and some fields, which are marked with i, ii, iii and iiii instead of 1-4, you get that, what is marked green, blue, yellow and violet. The 4 corners (each with dots) seem to present a starting field, the 4 middle sectors seems to present, where the game figures finally should end, if successful. It seems, that 4 four figures are destined to arrive there, cause there are 4 positions (as in Mensch ärgere Dich nicht).

There's a wall in the middle between start and destination fields (different to Mensch ärgere Dich nicht). Possibly the game rule had been, that you first had to cross the "wall in the middle", before you could advance to the destination fields. In the normal case you possibly had to run once around the field, to reach that field, where your color could cross the "wall in the middle" ...

... though there might be an error in the representation. The door for "green" (in my modification) is missing, and the door for "blue" is possibly there, where the door for Green should be, and the blue door should be, 90 degree in counterclockwise direction.

Then there are 4 fields in the wall section , which possibly shorten the way of the running, if the figures can reach this field (they are marked with a cross) ... a similar way to shorten the way appears in the Korean game of Yut-nori ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yutnori

... which is played with 4 sticks instead of a die (with the results 0-4). The result of one stick is either 1 or 0 and the ways you have to go are like this ...

All these points look relative logical, if we assume, that the figures had to run always more or less equal to counterclockwise in each move, and never in direction of the clock.

Maybe there had been other ways to break through the wall ... I don't understand the other dots on the middle wall. Also I don't understand the function of the two crosses at the left border.

Well. If you've crossed the wall, you likely had to run around the middle for a second time, so I imagine. You couldn't go directly to the destination fields.

Somehow like this for the run of the color "yellow" ... if it didn't happen, that the figures found a shorter way through the wall by luck.

Well, only a suspicion.

### The Boardgame of the Gospel (alea evangelii)

#12
Huck wrote:Why I think, that it might be a sort of Pachisi ....
Hello Huck,
I agree that Alea Evangeli could be a four players game. I do not see other similarities with Pachisi.
If you observe the "dots" (1-4 dots) and some fields, which are marked with i, ii, iii and iiii instead of 1-4, you get that, what is marked green, blue, yellow and violet. The 4 corners (each with dots) seem to present a starting field, the 4 middle sectors seems to present, where the game figures finally should end, if successful. It seems, that 4 four figures are destined to arrive there, cause there are 4 positions (as in Mensch ärgere Dich nicht).
I have observed the dots. As you noticed, they also appear in the four corners, each of which is associate to one of the Evangelists. That works as a kind of legend: it says which number of dots is associated to which evangelist. This is are the dot assignments and the colors I added following the dots:

The upper left angle is St. Matthew (marked with 1 dot) - Black
The upper right angle is Luke (marked with 3 dots) - Blue
The lower right angle is St. John (marked with 4 dots) - Red
The lower left angle is St. Mark (marked with 2 dots) - Green
alea2.png (453.79 KiB) Viewed 4880 times
The Roman numbers from I to X, marked with a cross, indicate which is the canon illustrated by the corresponding group of pieces. This is described very clearly in the manuscript.
The 16 pieces of the central canon (canon I) are additionally split into groups of four, marked I-IIII, in order to allow the extended description in the manuscript I quoted above.

I agree with all the comments I have read: the game is related to Hnefatafl. The symmetry of the board and the presence of a single main piece at the center of it are typical of that kind of game. But I think that the relation is not as strong as that postulated in most comments. The fact that the text describes the assignment of the pieces to the four evangelists, and does not mention a division in defenders and attackers, seems significant to me.

### Re: The Boardgame of the Gospel (alea evangelii)

#13
hi Marco,
marco wrote:
Huck wrote:Why I think, that it might be a sort of Pachisi ....
Hello Huck,
I agree that Alea Evangeli could be a four players game. I do not see other similarities with Pachisi.
"Alea" means mostly dice, then games of luck and likely seldom "game of skill", as far I understand it.

The research about this game is rather young, somehow "nationally inspired" by Northern interests and if they see something, which looks like "tables", they think of "their game". But usually it is understood, that such "tables" games are backgammon boards (which might be occasionally wrong, too, of course).

... :-) ... similar to Tarot research, if they see "Trionfi" or similar, then they think, that it is Tarot in each case.

They have Wikinger clubs and they start to organize world championships for the game ... with more or less local participation.
In the world of international Go in the 1960s and still in the begin of the 1970s the "European Championship" had been a matter of some Germans and a few Austrians. Everything starts small.

As far I understood it, they have for this 19x19-lines and 18-fields board only two documents, this alea evangelii and a board, which was found by Murray in 1951(whereby I don't know, if this second board had any ornaments; do you met a picture of it, when looking around ?). That's not much ...
Ah, I found a picture

http://www.treheima.ca/viking/tafl.htm
Smaller Tafl boards have only 13x13 as the maximal extension ...

Added: I see now, that there's another fragment, either with 15x15 or possibly 18x18 (same location)

... and these are also rare (as far I understood it). Generally the complication of the rules might suggest, that very large games with "moving stones" are more or less "impossible in practice". Go can be played very well on the 19x19-grid, but it has no moving stones. As Ming Mang occasionally was played in Tibet on such a board (as I've read) and Ming Mang is played with Tafl rules, there's an example, that it's possible, but in practice the preference (perhaps a Western preference ?) is on 8x8 boards. Tibetian Go preferred 17x17 boards, so one can read in internet.

This is counted as evidence for a 13x13 board:

(Same location as above)

One needs some goodwill to accept it as evidence.
I have observed the dots. As you noticed, they also appear in the four corners, each of which is associate to one of the Evangelists. That works as a kind of legend: it says which number of dots is associated to which evangelist. This is are the dot assignments and the colors I added following the dots:

The upper left angle is St. Matthew (marked with 1 dot) - Black
The upper right angle is Luke (marked with 3 dots) - Blue
The lower right angle is St. John (marked with 4 dots) - Red
The lower left angle is St. Mark (marked with 2 dots) - Green
alea2.png
The Roman numbers from I to X, marked with a cross, indicate which is the canon illustrated by the corresponding group of pieces. This is described very clearly in the manuscript.
The 16 pieces of the central canon (canon I) are additionally split into groups of four, marked I-IIII, in order to allow the extended description in the manuscript I quoted above.

I agree with all the comments I have read: the game is related to Hnefatafl. The symmetry of the board and the presence of a single main piece at the center of it are typical of that kind of game. But I think that the relation is not as strong as that postulated in most comments. The fact that the text describes the assignment of the pieces to the four evangelists, and does not mention a division in defenders and attackers, seems significant to me.
For "The Roman numbers from I to X, marked with a cross," ... I count 12 crosses, and I can't see a number row of 1-10.
Well, I believe, that it's a moralization of a game. Rhythmomachia is also a game of a similar time, and this gives evidence, that they used games with educative content in convents. Chess - a game with too much fighting content - found some prohibition for the clergy, at least till the beginning of 15th century; likely not in all regions and not at all times.

### Re: The Boardgame of the Gospel (alea evangelii)

#14
Huck wrote:For "The Roman numbers from I to X, marked with a cross," ... I count 12 crosses, and I can't see a number row of 1-10.
Hello Huck,
according to the manuscript:
The beginning of each canon is to be found where there is a cross with a number.
...
Can. 10 is seen to stand in four places: for wherever you can see no. 10 with a cross, this belongs to the 10th canon.
So, there should be 13 numbered crosses (one for each canon from I to IX + 4 for canon X). In the illustration, the copyist missed the cross for canon IX (on the lowest line). The result is that there are 12 numbered crosses instead of 13. Since here v is written u, numbers from 5 to 8 are not easily readable.
Attachments
ten_canons_alea_evangeli.png (524.47 KiB) Viewed 4863 times

### Re: The Boardgame of the Gospel (alea evangelii)

#15
Well,

if we assume, that ...
http://tafl.cyningstan.org.uk/page/167/ ... gelii-text
... presents a correct translation, why not.

Perhaps they used a game-board to make a system (the Eusebian tables) better understandable (for to get an easier memory of it).
Or a board of multiple function. I'd long the opinion, that the go-board size 19x19 = 361 was born for calendar reasons. One could count the times with it, the days of a year. One could use it as a trivial map, just by placing stones on it to signify local positions. One could plan a military battle. One could use it for counting operations. One could use it for games.

From the page with the translated page:
If any one would know this game [aleam] fully, before all the lessons of this teaching [hujus disciplinae documenia] he must thoroughly know [scire animo] these seven: to wit, dukes and counts, defenders and attackers, city and citadel, and nine steps [gradus] twice over.
This sounds like a game description.

But you said:
The fact that the text describes the assignment of the pieces to the four evangelists, and does not mention a division in defenders and attackers, seems significant to me.
I don't understand, why you said so. Ah, you mean, that the pieces don't have different colors. Are the words "dukes and counts, defenders and attackers, city and citadel," clear or a matter of possible double meaning?

### Re: The Boardgame of the Gospel (alea evangelii)

#16
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote: The first I thought might be "fhi", but on comparison with the "r" of "figura" in your first detail, it could be "flr", which still doesn't help at the moment.

The second seems to be "tab/u/la", but then that circle under the erstwhile "t" might make it a "g", hence "gabula", but what would that be?
Hello Ross,
following your suggestions for the two words, I made some very small progress.

I am now rather sure that the first word is "fer" or (less likely) "fei". The shape of the "e" is weird. The manuscript uses different types of "e" also in similar words: very confusing.
For instance "veniens offeres" / "offeres munus tuum" from page 13v (Matthew V).

About the second word, I confirm you are right about the "g", but what we thought was a "b" likely is "li". The word is rather similar to "galilea" (here is "multe de galilea", f13r, Matthew IV).

The two words are still meaningless, but at least I am beginning to recognize the characters of this script
If I ever come up with something meaningful, I will update the forum.

Thank you again for your help!
Attachments
puzzle.png (135.4 KiB) Viewed 4841 times

### Re: The Boardgame of the Gospel (alea evangelii)

#17

According to Brian Nugent (The Irish Invented Chess! p.78), the two words read "fer gabala", ancient Irish for "the taking man".

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