Friday, 1 April 2016

Research in Spain

Years ago,  I  looked around in the Ricote Valley for alquerque-12 drawings.  The Ricote Valley has always been a chance for me to relax, unwind and escape the stress of everyday life.   The pressures of commuting and family obligations mean many of us live life in a constant hurry resorting to fast food  before collapsing in front of the television in the evening. However, for my research I feel the need to escape and get away from it all at times. The Ricote Valley has become a  part of my life where I have the freedom to slow down, get away from technology overload and take real pleasure from the basics of life.   

However, during years I was not successful with my research in the Ricote Valley. This situation that lasted several years changed suddenly when I met the archaeologist Joaquín Salmeron, director of the Museum Siyasa at Cieza of the province of Murcia in Spain. Cieza is located only 5 km from the Ricote Valley.

                                         Joaquín Salmerón Juan and Govert Westerveld
                                                           Ruralmur Prize in 2014

With great enthusiasm Mr. Salmeron showed my proudly the different Alquerque boards they had found in the moorish settlement known as Siyasa of the XIII century. Among them quickly found two Alquerque-12 drawings. That day I felt myself the luckiest man of Spain because suddenly all my research efforts were rewarded with the desired results.  

 Alquerque-12 on a plaster stone at Syasa (Cieza)

Photo:  Courtesy of © José Antonio Hellín Martínez


                                                         Alquerque-12, (partially) on a plaster stone at Syasa (Cieza)  
                                                                Photo:  Courtesy of © José Antonio Hellín Martínez


         Alquerque-12 found on a stone in the old Musulman town Syasa Photo: Photo: Courtesy of © Juan Buitrago

The Alquerque-12 game is the precursor of the draughts or checker game that is called in Spanish the "Juego de las Damas". I  have already studied for many years the history of the draughts game that I considered being a Spanish invention around 1495, precisely in the town of Valencia. 


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