Piece of the Month VII

Dada a extensão deste artigo, achei por bem publicar as versões inglesa e portuguesa em separado. Para a versão portuguesa, cliquem aqui.

PIECE OF THE MONTH VII – BONE DICE

Collection: Municipal Archaeological Depot of Montemor-o Novo (MNCAST[7/09]0165)

Dates: 15th-16th centuries

Provenance: Montemor-o-Novo Castle

Local of Production: Unknown

Dimensions: 1cm in length × 1cm in width x 1cm in height

Weight: Unknown

Materials: Bone

Description: A very small,  very simple bone dice, with crudely carved dots and a small imperfection on one of its sides. More information on this dice can be found in the MorBase* database of finds in the late medieval/early modern town of Montemor-o-Novo, here: https://montemorbase.com/morbase/mncast7090165/.

Dado 2
Isometric perspective of the dice. Notice the off-kilter middle dot in the number five.

Dice like these were used throughout the Late Middle Ages in games of chance. They could often be found tumbling around in purses and pouches as popular ways for passing a bit of time (and earning some coin in the process), and they turn up quite a lot in archaeological sites – this one was found alongside several other specimens in the residential areas inside the walls of Montemor-o-Novo Castle, in southern Portugal.

In the words of the medievalist António Oliveira Marques, “the game of dice was the most ancient, the most popular, and the most persecuted by the authorities. Nobles, commoners, and even harlots engaged in it” [1], in gambling houses called “tavolagens” [2]. Dice were so loathed by the powers that be that, during the 15th century, they were forbidden during holy periods, and gaming with loaded dice would incur in a public whipping, a hefty fine and banishment to the newly-discovered islands in the Atlantic – or banishment to Ceuta, in case the cheat was of noble blood [3]. This state of affairs was a definite step up in relation to 14th century law, which prescribed a penalty of death for the same offence.

 

[1] Oliveira Marques, A. (1971). Daily Life in Portugal in the Late Middle Ages. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, p. 253.

[2] Idem, p. 252.

[3] As per the Afonsine Ordinances, the biggest compilation of laws in 15th century Portugal. In Freitas, D., Heitor, I., Maia, A., Marques, J. and Ventura, L. Ordenações Afonsinas [online]. Coimbra: Universidade de Coimbra, title XXXX. Retrieved from http://www.ci.uc.pt/ihti/proj/afonsinas/l5pg146.htm .

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Freitas, D., Heitor, I., Maia, A., Marques, J. and Ventura, L. Ordenações Afonsinas [Online]. Coimbra: Universidade de Coimbra. Retrieved from http://www.ci.uc.pt/ihti/proj/afonsinas/ [facsimiled edition of Almeida, M. and Martins, J. (1792). Ordenaçoens do Senhor Rey D. Affonso V. Ordenações Afonsinas. Coimbra: Real Imprensa da Universidade]

Oliveira Marques, A. (1971). Daily Life in Portugal in the Late Middle Ages. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press

 

*FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE MORBASE PROJECT, PLEASE VISIT https://montemorbase.com/
AND ENJOY THE VIRTUAL MUSEUM AND LIBRARY, OPEN 24/7!

 

 

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One thought on “Piece of the Month VII

  1. Pingback: Peça do Mês VII

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