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(photo) Small pieces of ceramic and glass. mancala

One Africanism, mancala, is still played today and is believed to be one of the world’s oldest games. African people often played with pebbles or cowry shells, using hollows scooped into the earth or pecked into stone. African peoples brought their variations of mancala with them to the United States during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Archeologists at several plantation sites in Virginia have identified pieces of glass and ceramic modified into gaming pieces. Archeologists working at the Robinson House also recovered a number of such small items that may have been used as mancala pieces. By playing mancala, families such as the Robinsons could maintain cultural ties within the African American community as well as recall their cultural ties to Africa. They also contributed to the creation of a lasting Africanism.

NPS Archeology Program