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Were ancient gaming pieces actually loo roll?
Roman artefacts believed to be early gaming chips will have to be reclassified after academic research revealed they were actually used as toilet paper.
The pieces are among Fishbourne Roman Palace in Chichester’s ancient collection.
Archaeologists always thought the pieces were used in ancient games including draughts. But new research from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has revealed the pieces were used in the loo.
The disc-shaped relics have been in the Sussex museum’s collection since the 1960s.
Up until now museum experts thought the items were used for early games like draughts, but a recent BMJ article proposed a different function.
Head of learning at the museum Katrina Burton said: “Quite what he was up to with the Greek pots no one knows – but there is an image of a man holding a disc like object near him.
“It would make sense they were used as toilet paper, though of course they could be gaming pieces.
“That is the great thing about archaeology – that there are so many interpretations.
“We have several of these pieces which are either gaming pieces or toilet paper.”
Dr Robert Symmons, curator of the reserve collection, said: “We will obviously have to think about reclassifying these objects on our catalogue.
“But we hope the pieces will make people smile when they learn what they were used for.
“They would have probably been quite scratchy to use and I doubt they would be as comfortable as using toilet roll.
“But in the Roman era it was that or very little else.”