Excerpted from our article on dice published in Reniassance Magazine Issue #20.

"The Ancients used to play Cockall, or casting of hucklebones, which is done with smooth sheep bones. The Dutch call them Pickelen, wherewith our young maids that are not yet ripe use to play for a husband, and young married folks despise these as soon as they are married. But young men contend with another with a kind of bone taken forth of oxe-feet." -Brand's Popular Antiquities.

The "knucklebones" of sheep, have a roughly rectangular shape and knucklebones, or Astragali in Greek, were used as four-sided dice in the days of both ancient Greece, and Rome. Humans have even molded artificial "bones" to imitate animal bones since prehistoric times, usually in terra cotta. The numbers 1-3-4-6 were sometimes assigned to the four long sides of the knucklebones. In this game scoring was not simply by adding the total of the roll, but included combinations. For example, a roll of four "1's," was a "Canis," (dog) and naturally the lowest score. A run of "1-3-4-6" was the highest score (called a "Venus") and even beat a roll of four 6's.

This information is provided as a service, feel free to use it for educational purposes.
However, reprinting it for commercial purposes without prior authorization is a violation of the "fair use" principals of U.S. Copyright laws. We are happy to recommend sources for additional reading.
E-mail us