Stranger games: the life and times of the Spintriae

Duggan, Eddie (2016) Stranger games: the life and times of the Spintriae. In: XIX Annual International Board Game Studies Colloquium, 13–16 April 2016, German Games Archive, Nuremburg.

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Abstract

In 2010 a Roman token was discovered in the mud of the Thames near Putney Bridge in London. When the token was discovered to have an erotic image on one side and a Roman numeral on the other, and was identified in a Museum of London press release as a rare Roman “brothel token”, the press reported on the story in the expected manner, for example: “A Roman coin that was probably used by soldiers to pay for sex in brothels has been discovered on the banks of the River Thames” (Daily Telegraph, 4 Jan 2012); “Bronze discs depicting sex acts, like the one discovered in London, were used to hire prostitutes – and directly led to the birth of pornography during the Renaissance” (The Guardian, 4 Jan 2012) and "After an explicit coin used to pay for pleasure is found in the Thames, the X-rated story of the Roman sex slaves of Britain" (Daily Mail, 6 Jan 2012).

Even before this particular spate of media interest, these curious tokens have generated confusion, speculation and prurience – often simultaneously. They are of interest to games scholars because the speculation often includes the suggestion these objects may have had a ludic function, and were used as game counters.

This paper will look at some of the proposals that have been offered by way of explanation of these peculiar objects.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: games, London, Roman
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CJ Numismatics
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NC Drawing Design Illustration
N Fine Arts > ND Painting
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Arts & Humanities
Depositing User: Eddie Duggan
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2020 09:26
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 09:46
URI: http://oars.uos.ac.uk/id/eprint/1161

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