CHINA / Regional

Ancient engraved chessboards found on Great Wall
Updated: 2006-06-04 20:31

Archaeologists have found two ancient engraved chessboards probably used by soldiers on the Great Wall more than 700 years ago at Qinhuangdao, North China's Hebei Province.

The two boards, one for Chinese chess and the other for the ancient game "Tiger Eats Sheep", were engraved on a stone in front of a Great Wall beacon tower possibly in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), said officials with the provincial department of cultural relics.

Archaeologists believe that soldiers from all parts of ancient China used to play chess to while away the time on the remote wall.

The chessboards were never mentioned in documents on the Great Wall or in local chronicles, said an official.

However, more work was needed to identify the exact date of the boards, he added.

Archaeologists have also found 17 Chinese characters in five lines engraved on a stone nearby, of which the names of two soldiers are still clear.

China's first emperor, Qinshihuang, founder of Qin Dynasty, had the Wall built as a defense by over one million workers in 12 years against attack by the Xiongnu, an ancient nationality in North China.

Rebuilt many times through the centuries, the wall stretches 6,000kilometers from Jiayuguan Pass in northwestern Gansu Province to end at Shanhaiguan Pass on the shores of Bohai Bay in the east.