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AI Resurrects Ancient Board Games and Makes Them Playable Online

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Knossos board game replica

The Knossos board and four conical pieces are based on objects found at the Palace of Knossos in Crete in 1901.

A group of researchers from Maastricht University developed an artificial intelligence algorithm that's taken the guesswork out of the Knossos game, a royal game dating back millennia unearthed by archaeologist Arthur Evans in Crete in 1901. Not only is the Knossos game complete with the most likely set of rules determined from millions of possibilities, it's also playable online, along with hundreds of other games thought to have been lost to history.

The games were brought to life by computer scientist Cameron Browne and the Digital Ludeme Project, a five-year computational study of the world's traditional strategy games using modern AI techniques. Browne and colleagues have already brought nearly a thousand board games online. Games once popular in the second and first millennia BC are now just a few clicks away for anyone on the Internet.

"The question for me was, can we use modern AI techniques to shed insight into how these ancient games were played and, together with the evidence available, help reconstruct them," Browne says.

From Wired
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