Activity 1E: Knucklebones: A Game of Skill

Give each student a copy of instructions on how to make the "Knucklebone" game pieces. At least two games can be played with these game pieces. Discuss with the students the origin of the game.

Game 1

Knucklebones was a popular game of skill in ancient Greece for both children and adults. The game is very similar to the modern-day game of jacks, except that it is played without a ball. The Greeks used sun-bleached neck vertebrae (for example, the bones from a chicken neck) as the ball and playing pieces for the game. The object of the game is similar to jacks in that each player must toss one bone into the air, pick up the others, and then catch the first bone before it falls, all in one hand. Five to nine bones are used to play the game.

Game 2

Knucklebones was also a dice game played with only four bones. These sun-bleached vertebrae were called "Knucklebones." The pieces always had four flat sides plus two ends. The best throw - when each die landed differently - was called "Aphrodite," after the goddess of love and beauty. The worst throw - when they all landed alike - was called "the dog."



Culture, game, culture, Greek, specimen, bone, preparation

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Activity Code: 
Unit Reference: 
Give Your Bones A Break
Lesson Reference: 
Lesson 1: Cultural Representation of Skeletons and Bones