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 Post subject: Alea evangelii and Go
Post #1 Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 11:52 am 
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I've been debating (with myself) if I should ask this or not. And it's barely realted to Go. And yet...

There's a board game... family, for lack of a better term. Tafl. It's an asymmetrical game that kinda makes me think of a weird bastard between chess and Go. It's played on the cells of a 7x7 and above board, with regional variants in all Northern Europe. A single kind of piece & movement (with a bit of an extra for a single one of the defending player's "army").

Thing is, there's a "lost" 19x19 variant of it. It happens to be the only one played in the intersections of the lines. There's some discussion it might actually have been a 17x17 board. And the codex it's explained on is using a previous game to comment on religion.

It all screams "Go" to me. It feels as if someone had seen a Chinese board somewhere [*], heard some cosmological explanations, and decided to use those heathen ideas for his own faith.

Any takers? Has this already been explored?

Take care.

[*] I'm not sure about the time match, but the vikings were trading (ivory) with China in... Samarkand?

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 Post subject: Re: Alea evangelii and Go
Post #2 Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 1:19 pm 
Oza

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Quote:
Has this already been explored?


The answer's yes but I can't remember the details. It may have been Theo van Ees, but somebody from the West presented a paper exploring the ideas cited above at a seminar in (as I recall) Korea. I think the precise version of the game may have been hnefatafl.

The suggestion of very ancient links between East and West has also been explored. It's not something I personally have followed, but I can recall, for example, a claim that the people of Japan knew the story of Jesus around 200 AD, and another that the popularity of bullfighting in a certain part of China was due to settlement there of a lost Roman legion. The idea of a lost Roman legion is known elsewhere - there's a famous one in Scotland. If you consider that few people in Roman legions were actually Romans, it's not so far-fetched. In the same way, a Viking board game can be transmitted by non-Vikings.


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 Post subject: Re: Alea evangelii and Go
Post #3 Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 3:47 pm 
Gosei

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I wouldn't be surprised by old transmission of Western things to China and Chinese things to the West via trade on the Silk Road. The Han Dynasty in China officially began trading with the West in around 130 BC and it continued until the Ottoman Turkish Empire closed the trade route in the 1400's AD

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 Post subject: Re: Alea evangelii and Go
Post #4 Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 11:17 pm 
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I know it's not the most accurate of sources, but some time in the mid-late 90s, new scientist announced a link between shakudo bronze and some Roman alloys.

Even if they were wrong, their explanation would assume some already existing links.

Take care

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 Post subject: Re: Alea evangelii and Go
Post #5 Posted: Wed Nov 18, 2020 9:06 am 
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This topic was discussed in 2016-17 at https://forums.online-go.com/t/tafl-gam ... urope/9900

We came to the conclusion that the games are not related.


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 Post subject: Re: Alea evangelii and Go
Post #6 Posted: Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:03 am 
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I'm afraid I don't quite buy the explanations. For example,
OGS Forum, C. Merville wrote:
Hnefatafl pieces have actually been found. They are carved from bone

And amber, and glass, and... So what?

Quote:
I know that the idea of 360 degrees attributed to a circle comes from the ancient Babylonians who used a base 60 numerical system.

There are other explanations And certainly other options. Plus... the simile is as weak with Tafl as it is with Go. A circle can be usefully divided in 360 parts, so we'll make a board into 361 equally spaced points. Of course. Sure. I'll admit it's easier to draw 38 lines than it is to draw 360 (of which I haven't personally seen a single ancient example). But anyhow, correlation does not imply causation, and I see no other reinforcement. The part about drawing straight lines... Come on? Really? Just after we mentioned marking 360 equal parts of a circle?

Personally, if I were to bet, I'd say that someone in a scriptorium heard a chronicle about Go, or got it explained in a market in the middle East, and mixed it with Talf and Christian imagery (instead of all that pagan mumbo jumbo on days and constellations and...) and wrote his own... moral treatise? I'm not aware of any other single description of A. evangelii, so I'm hesitant to assume it was even actually played.

Take care.

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