Universiteit Leiden

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Artificial Intelligence Playing Ancient Games: Computational Techniques for Board Games Heritage

Wednesday 28 June 2023
Niels Bohrweg 1
2333 CA Leiden

Digital methods are at the forefront of a renaissance of scientific research on ancient games. The Digital Ludeme Project has pioneered the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to study ancient games, developing the use of AI simulated play to answer archaeological research questions. The Ludii General Game System is the basis for this research.

It generates playable versions of games based on the rules that have been preserved for ancient games. AI simulations in  Ludii can also be tailored to address specific questions presented by the archaeological evidence for games. We discuss some examples of this methodology, including the examination of the reported rules of Ludus Latrunculorum can be played on all of the boards archaeologists have identified as belonging to this game, finding rules that mirror the use-wear on a possible game board from Roman Limburg. This research is framed in the context of games as intangible cultural heritage and will discuss the limits and opportunities of AI simulations with regard to reconstructing ancient practices, and new directions for continuing this research will be discussed.

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