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XII Scripta (Duodecim Scripta, Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum, Alea)DLP Game   


Period Ancient, Medieval

Region Northern Africa, Western Asia, Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Western Europe

Category Board, Race, Escape


XII scripta ("twelve signs") or ludus duodecim scrtiptorum ("game of twelve signs" ) or, later, alea ("dice"), is a Roman game dating to the first cnturies CE that appears to be an ancestor of backgammon. Game boards that the form of 36 symbols, placed in three rows of twelve but divided in the middle by either a gap or other, larger signs, such as circles or rosettes. Sometimes the 36 symbols are letters, forming six six-letter words that form a poem or phrase, often relating to game play. One board, from Ostia, may indicate that game play started in the left hand side of the center row of signs, progressed to the right, went from right to left in the top row, and then left to right in the bottom row. A late epigram of Agathias recounts a game of tabula (generic Roman term for "board game;" backgammon in the Greek world is today known as tavli) that clearly describes a game of backgammon.


3x12 board divided in half. Track goes down the center line from left to right, then right to left in the top line, then left to right in the bottom line.

DLP evidence.

All Rulesets

Suggested rulesets
Murray Suggested by H. J. R. Murray.

Ludeme Description

XII Scripta.lud


Browse all concepts for XII Scripta here.


Murray 1951: 30-31

Evidence Map

104 pieces of evidence in total. Browse all evidence for XII Scripta here.

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Armellini, M. 1880. Il cimitero di S. Agnese sulla via Nomentana. Rome: Tipografia Poligliotta.

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Austin, R.G. 1934. 'Roman board games I.' Greece & Rome 4(10): 24-34.

Barresi, P. 2000. 'Su una tabula lusoria da Gortyna.' Annuario della Scuola Archeologica di Atene e delle Missioni Italiane in Oriente 76–78: 249–271.

Bartoccini, R. 1958. Il Porto Romano di Leptis Magna. Rome: Centro Studi per la Storia dell'Archittetura.

Bean, G. 1968. Turkey's Southern Shore.London: John Murray.

ben Abed, A and M. Scheid. 2005. 'Nouvelles recherches archéologiques à Jebel Oust (TUnisie). Comptes rendus des séances de l'Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 149(1): 321–349.

ben Abed, A., B. Khader anmd R. Hanoune. 2004. 'La salle de Nutrix à Sidi Jdidi.' In C. Balmelle, P. Chevalier and G. Ripoll (eds), Mélanges d'antiquité tardive: Studiola in honorem Noël Duval. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols. 67–73.

Boldetti, M. 1720. Osservazioni sopra i cimiteri de'Santi Martiti, ed antichi cristiani di Roma. Rome: Salvioni.

Brun, J.-P. 2003. 'Dawwî.' In H. Cuvigny (ed.), La route de Myos Hormos: L'armée romaine dans le désert Oriental d'Égypte. Cairo: Institut français d'archéologie orientale 133–135.

Bruzza, L. 1877. 'Tavole lusorie del Castro Pretorio.' Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Comunale di Roma 5: 81–99.

Bruzza, L. 1881. 'Sopra alcuni oggetti ritrovati in un sepolcro della Via Prenestina.' Annali dell'Instiututo di Corrispondenza Archeologica 53: 90–301.

Bruzza, L. 1886. 'Spieltische und Würfel.' In F. Kraus (ed), Realencyclopädie der christlichen Altertümer II. Freiburg im Breisgau: Herdersche Verlagshandlung: 771–774.

Cagnat, R. and I. Schmidt. 1894. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum VII.2: Inscriptionum Provinciae Numidiae. Latinarum Supplementum. Berlin: George Reimer.

Carton, L. 1895. Découvertes épigraphiques et archéologiques faites en Tunisie (région deDougga). Lilli: Imprimerie L. Danel.

de Rossi, G. 1877. La Roma sotteranea cristiana III. Rome: Saliucci.

de Voogt, A. 2019a. 'Traces of appropriation: Roman board games in Egypt and Sudan.' Archimède 6:89–99.

Delattre, A. 1911. 'Deux tables de jeux trouvées à Carthage.' Revue Tunisienne: 12–19.

Demirer, Ü. 2013. 'XII Scripta and two excavated game boards from Kibyra.' In S. Fazlullin and M. Antika (eds), Proceedings of the 17th Symposium on Mediterranean Archaeology. Oxford: Archaeopress: 74–82.

Dessau, H. 1892. Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae II. Berlin: Weidmann.

Desssau, H. 1887. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum XIV. Inscriptiones Latii Veteris Latinae. Berlin: George Reimer.

Detlefsen, D. 1861. 'Inscrizioni di Trastevere III.'Bullettino dell'Instituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica: 177–180.

Emery, W. and L. Kirwan. 1938. Mission Archéologique de Nubie 1929–1934. The Royal Tombs of Ballana and Qustul. Cario: Government Press Boulaq.

Fiorelli. 1886. Notizie degli scavi di antichità 1886. Rome: Accademia dei Lincei.

Gatti, G. 1887. 'Trovamenti risguardanti la topografia e la epigrafia urbana. Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Communale di Roma 15(11–12):325–335.

Gatti, G. 1887a. 'Trovementi risgurdanti la topografia e la epigrafia urbana.' Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Communale di Roma 15(6): 173–191.

Gatti, G. 1887b. 'Trovamenti risguardanti la topografia e la epigrafia urbana. Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Communale di Roma 15(2):33–51.

Gatti, G. 1904. 'V. Roma.' Notizie degli scavi di antichità: 153–158.

Hirschfeld, O. and C. Zangemeitster. 1904. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum XIII.1. Trium Galliarum et Germinarum Latinae. Inscriptiones Belgicae. Berlin: George Reimer.

Horn,H. 1989. 'Si per me misit, nil nisi vota foret. Ein römischer Spielturm aus Froitzheim. Bonner Jahrbücher 189: 139–160.

Ihm, M. 1890. 'Römische Spieltafeln.' Bonner Studien: Aufsätze aus der Altertumswissenschaft, Reinhard Kekulé zur Erinnerung an seine Lehrthätigkeit in Bonn gewidmet von seinen Schülern. Berlin: W. Spemann.

Isidore. Episcopi Etymologiarum sine Originum.

Krüger, T. 1982. Das Brett- und Würfelspiel der Spätlatènezeit und römischen Kaiserzeit im freien Germanien. Hildesheim.

Lanciani, R. 1876. 'Ara di vermino 3.' Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Comunale di Roma 4(4):165–210.

Lanciani, R. 1878. Supplementi al Volume VI del Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Communale di Roma 6(4):239–271.

Levick, B, S. Mitchell, J. Potter, and M. Waelkens (eds). 1993. Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua X. Monuments from the Upper Tembris Valley, Cotiaeum, Cadi, Synaus, Ancyra, and Tiberiopolis Recorded by C.W.M. Cox, A. Cameron, and J. Cullen. London: Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies.

Marangoni, G. 1740. Acta A. Victorini Episcopi Amiterni, et Martyris. Rome: Joannem Mariam Salvioni.

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Merlin, A. 1954. L'Année épigraphique Année 1953. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Mommsen, T. 1883. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. IX. Inscriptiones Calbriae Apuliae Samnii Sabinorum Piceni Latinae. Berlin: George Reimer.

Mommsen, T. 1883a. Corpus Inscriptonum Latinarum. X. Inscriptiones Bruttiorum Lucaniae Campaniae Siciliae Sardiniae Latinae. Berlin: George Reimer.

Mulvin, L. and S. Sidebotham. 2004. 'Roman Game Boards from Abu Sha'ar (Red Sea Coast, Egypt).' Antiquity 78(301): 206–617.

Murray, H.J.R. 1951. A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Roueché, C. 2004: Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity: The Late Roman and Byzantine Inscriptions.

Roueché, C. 2007. Late Roman and Byzantine game boards at Aphrodisias. In Finkel, I. ed. Ancient Board Games in Perspective. London: The British Museum Press. pp. 100–105.

Schädler, U. 1995. XII scripta, alea, tabula: new evidence for the Roman history of “backgammon.” In A. de Voogt (ed.), New Approaches to Board Games Research: Asian Origins and Future Perspectives. Leiden: IIAS. 73–98.

Swiny, S. 1986. The Kent State University Expedition to Episkopi Phaneromeni. Nicosia: Paul Åströms Förlag.

Wickert, L. 1930. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum XIV. Supplementum Ostiense. Berlin: George Reimer.

Wilmanns, G. 1881. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. VIII. Inscriptiones Africae Latinae. Berlin: George Reimer.

Wilmanns, G. 1881a. Corpus Inscriptiunum Latinarum. VIII.2. Inscriptiones Africae Latinae. Inscriptiones Mauretaniarum. Berlin: George Reimer.




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