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SS Republic Artifact

Astoundingly, the excavation of the SS Republic produced the remains of a handful of chess pieces made of bone, each in varying states of deterioration. These rare items are likely the vestiges of a once intact game, perhaps played by the passengers or crew aboard the ship to while away timeless hours at sea. 

Based on the two-player Indian war game, Chatarung, dating back to 600 A.D, by 1000 A.D, chess was spread to Europe by Persian traders. Unlike other board games that as a rule do not last, chess would eventually pass into every city of the world along more than 1,500 years of continuous history. American chess was fortuitously trumpeted by founding father and chess aficionado Benjamin Franklin, who in 1750 penned "The Morals of Chess." Franklin's article praises the social and intellectual development that chess inspires. Franklin himself was known to spend excessive time playing the game, especially against beautiful women.

By the mid-19th century, “The Game of Kings,” became the game for everyone. Its popularity was augmented by the creation of chess clubs, the distribution of introductory books, columns in the general press, and magazines dedicated to the game. Interest in the game now flourished in America with the first U.S Championship held in 1845. Paul Morphy, born in 1837 in New Orleans became the first American chess legend after winning the 1857 American Chess Congress. Soon after, he was unofficially acknowledged as the best player of his time. When the SS Republic sank a few years later in 1865, the game of chess had clearly made its mark in America.

Board Game Pieces

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