Knucklebones was played during medieval times, though it actually originated in the days of ancient Greece with records of the game dating as far back as 330 B.C.

The game features four bones, each taken from the ankle of a sheep, with each bone possessing four sides, each of a different shape. Each long side — convex, sinuous, flat and concave, respectively — is given a different value, typically 1, 3, 4 and 6. Players roll the bones like dice, and add together their score for the round based on which side of each bone lands facing upwards. If bones aren’t available, the organizers could substitute them for a set of four-sided dice.

(Thanks to redditor Enchilada_McMustang)

Image: Children’s games, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (detail)

Ancient Greek Adolescent Girls at Play 

This small (5.5 inches high) terracotta sculpture was made in Greek southern Italy in the late fourth century BCE. It depicts two adolescent girls playing the game of “knucklebones” (astragaloi in Greek). The game was usually played like the modern game of “jacks”: one threw the knucklebones in the air and attempted to catch as many as possible. They were also used like modern “dice.” Each of the four long sides of the knucklebone had a value: the convex side was worth 3, the concave 4, and the two flat sides 1 and 6. Most knucklebones were made out of the actual ankle bones of sheep or goats, but fancier ones were made of ivory, bronze, or terracotta. Children of both sexes, adolescent girls, and young women played knucklebones as revealed by statues like this one as well as paintings on vases.

This statue is both a depiction of a game and a representation of gender ideals. Whereas girls in the nearby city-state of Sparta were taught to read and write and engaged in athletic competitions, those in Athens spent their girlhoods largely indoors practicing the domestic arts (e.g., spinning, weaving, cooking, and childcare). Athenian girls typically married at the age of 15 or so and spent the rest of their lives engaged in household activities.

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albinobobcat asked:

Hey I was just wondering if you have any good resources on how to clean bones? I've never done more than leave them outside for a long time and come back to them later so I really have no idea how to do it properly. Thanks!

This is the guide I used for the deer knucklebones I found in the woods and the advice seems sound. I don’t do a ton of bone cleaning myself (my livingquarters are not conducive to processing large raw deads, so I usually buy everything precleaned from other artists)

Followers feel free to chime in with your favorite methods as well!

The Truth the Dead Know // Anne Sexton

Gone, I say and walk from church,
refusing the stiff procession to the grave,
letting the dead ride alone in the hearse.
It is June. I am tired of being brave.

We drive to the Cape. I cultivate
myself where the sun gutters from the sky,
where the sea swings in like an iron gate
and we touch. In another country people die.

My darling, the wind falls like stones
from the whitehearted water and when we touch
we enter touch entirely. No one’s alone.
Men kill for this, or for as much.

And what of the dead? They lie without shoes
in their stone boats. They are more like stone
than the sea would be if it stopped. They refuse
to be blessed, throat, eye and knucklebone.