Only a few decades after the chess game was invented in India, Persia or China, people have already played it in Europe. British researchers led by Richard Hodges of the University of East Anglia discovered a sixth-century chess piece in the Byzantine city of Butrint in what is now Albania. The news service BBC reports in its online edition. This brought the chess game to Europe at a time when the Roman Empire was just falling apart and the turmoil of migration was shaking the continent. So far, historians had suspected that the "Game of Kings" only in the twelfth century at European royal courts introduced. Proof of this were chess pieces made of ivory, which were spread from southern Italy to northern Scotland. The figure from Butrint is made of ivory. The researchers do not yet know whether it is a lady or a king.

The city of Butrint, located opposite the island of Corfu on the Albanian coast, was founded in the eighth century BC and was for a long time an independent city. After the Roman conquest in 167, the city belonged to the Roman Empire until 367 AD. Thereafter, the history of the city was changeable: Vandals, Ostrogoths and Slavs plundered the area. In the late 9th century Butrint fell under the rule of Byzantium, later Normans, Venetians and Frenchmen quarreled over the city on the Adriatic.

Ute Kehse


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