Watch Brits Play the Oldest Board Game On Earth

BabelStone // CC0 (Public Domain)
BabelStone // CC0 (Public Domain)

The Royal Game of Ur is the oldest known board game—it's at least 4000 years old! The British Museum has a copy, complete with wooden board, seven black markers, seven white markers, and four tetrahedral dice.

Although the game was discovered in the 1920s, its rules were deciphered later by British Museum curator Irving Finkel. He translated a cuneiform tablet found separately in order to puzzle out how it worked. (There's a terrific video describing this process.) In the video below, Finkel teaches YouTuber Tom Scott to play. Have a look:

If you're curious, the game is on BoardGameGeek and you can read about the British Museum's copy.

The Museum of Illusions Boggles the Mind

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The new Museum of Illusions in New York City explores optical illusions with an interactive twist. Visitors can test their perception and even participate in the exhibits.

The Truth Behind Italy's Abandoned 'Ghost Mansion'

YouTube/Atlas Obscura
YouTube/Atlas Obscura

The forests east of Lake Como, Italy, are home to a foreboding ruin. Some call it the Casa Delle Streghe (House of Witches), or the Red House, after the patches of rust-colored paint that still coat parts of the exterior. Its most common nickname, however, is the Ghost Mansion.

Since its construction in the 1850s, the mansion—officially known as the Villa De Vecchi—has reportedly been the site of a string of tragedies, including the murder of the family of the Italian count who built it, as well as the count's suicide. It's also said that everyone's favorite occultist, Aleister Crowley, visited in the 1920s, leading to a succession of satanic rituals and orgies. By the 1960s, the mansion was abandoned, and since then both nature and vandals have helped the house fall into dangerous decay. The only permanent residents are said to be a small army of ghosts, who especially love to play the mansion's piano at night—even though it's long since been smashed to bits.

The intrepid explorers of Atlas Obscura recently visited the mansion and interviewed Giuseppe Negri, whose grandfather and great-grandfather were gardeners there. See what he thinks of the legends, and the reality behind the mansion, in the video below.

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