|Toys and games
are universals in human societies and yet archaeologically they
are often elusive. Yet there is some evidence that games involving
sheep or goat astragali (knucklebones), still played
throughout Asia, were enjoyed in the ancient U.A.E. as well.
A complete set of bones, well-polished as though they had been
handled repeatedly for years, was found in excavation at Tell
Abraq in a context dating to c. 1800 B.C. Similarly, ceramic
disks - broken pieces of pottery cut along the edges into a
rough circular disk shape - with two perforations were probably
used, together with a string, as a buzz. The buzz
is a toy which is attested all over the world, from North America
to China to ancient Palestine.
An ivory bird figurine mounted on a long rod of ivory was found
at Tell Abraq in a tomb dating to c. 2100 B.C. It resembles
toys used in East Africa and may well have been a plaything.
Scholars have long been interested in the history of ancient
Near Eastern games, particularly since Sir Leonard Woolleys
discovery of a gaming board in the Royal Cemetery of Ur in Iraq
during the 1930s. While gaming boards have not been recovered
in the U.A.E., cup marks made in beach rock on some of the Abu
Dhabi islands and on the coast of Qatar suggest that, in the
later Islamic era, some sort of game involving pebbles and cups
(i.e. the hollows made in the rock) may have been played to
while away free time during the pearling season.