Friday, 16 March 2018

The History of Alquerque-12. Texts of the game. Volume III

The History of Alquerque-12.  Texts of the game. Volume III 

ISBN:   978-0-244-07274-2  515 pages

--- I dedicate this work to Mr. Joaquín Salmerón, Director of the Museum Siyasa of Cieza (Murcia) in Spain.

Thanks to his enthusiasm and generous help I could initiate the investigation of the Alquerque-12 game in Spain.


The reason to write three volumes about alquerque-12 was due to the fact that there are researchers who affirm that alquerque-12 was a very popular game in France. On the other hand they confirm that alquerque-12 is a draughts game played in the Roman times. In Volume I we have shown that the alquerque-12 board was not popular in France, but in Spain while in Volume II it becomes clear that the game was also very popular in Portugal and Italy.

In the case of Spain we observe that the game was played more in the northern provinces than in the southern ones, which invalidates the general opinion that the game had been brought to Spain by the Arabs.

Researchers are always referring to the fact that alquerque or Quirkat was being played throughout Egypt. In this sense we have to take into account that with regards to the alquerque games we have three man morris, six man morris, nine man morris, and twelve man morris.  Each game was played in a certain period.

Most historians and archaeologists were following Murray, and stated that alquerque-12 was native to Egypt in the 14th and 13th century B.C., because boards had been found carved into the blocks of stone that form the Luxor temple’s roof in Kurna, Egypt. However, alquerque-12 has nothing to do with this period. At first Friedrich Berger states that the drawings cannot be dated due to Coptic (Christian) crosses. Secondly the German archaeologist and Egyptologist Rainer Stadelmann came to a similar conclusion with good documentary evidence. Research of the Dutchman Wim Van Mourik and Dr. Stadelmann clearly proves that the drawing by Parker was not the correct one and was completely different from the drawing shown in Stadelmann's photo. For that reason we can state today that the Kurna temple had nothing to do with alquerque-12 and draughts.

Alquerque-12 in various countries always had to do with Christians and the church. It was probably played by the church authorities, European crusaders, Knight Templars, Knights of the Order of Santiago, and other soldiers. For that reason we hypothesise that the game was an invention of or related to the activities of the Catholic Church not earlier than the sixth century.

We have to be careful in considering all alquerque-12 drawings as board games. There are many vertical drawings of alquerque-12 that have nothing to do with the board game, since they could have been used for apotropaic and esoteric practices. In this respect one can take into account the Knights Templar and their carvings at the Donjon du Coudray, Chinon (France).

I thank Mr. Rob Jansen (Amsterdam) for his deep research of alquerque-12 documents and images for years. Without his collaboration this book could never have been written. I also send words of thanks to Dr. Ulrich Schädler (Switzerland) who generously gave me a lot of critical notes. The fact that I did not use them in this book has to do with adverse personal circumstances. I   thank Marisa Uberti (Italy) for her comments and images. Dr. Franco Pratesi (Italy) also gave me a lot of information about Italy.  The draughts icon researcher Wim van Mourik (Holland) kept me posted about his alquerque-12 researches. Dr. Jorge Nuno Silva (Portugal) was kind to facilitate me several images of alquerque-12 boards. The anthropologist and archaeologist Luis Lobato de Faria (Portugal) has found many alquerque-12 boards and drawings and kept me posted about them. I thank him very much for his efforts to bring so many boards to light!

More people have collaborated on the preparation of this book and it is not possible to mention all of them.  Thanks to all of you!


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