A peculiar find was recently made in the Russian city of Pskov where archaeologists have discovered what they jokingly described as an "underground casino" which dates back to the second half of 17th century.
The artefact in question, unearthed in the vicinity of a now defunct local thermal power station, is a wooden bench with what appears to be an alquerque (a strategy game similar to fanorona and checkers) board carved into it.
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As scholars explained in an Instagram post, gambling in Russia was outlawed during the reign of Tsar Alexis I, which led to gamblers devising various methods to hide their activities as punishment for such transgression was rather severe.
"If some unwanted visitors come knocking, the board could be quickly covered with a rag or a person could simply sit upon it, thus hiding it from prying eyes," the message said.
The archaeologists also noted that they’ve already found a considerable number of alquerque pieces prior to the discovery of this improvised board which they described as “yet another testament to the diversity of Pskov residents’ pastimes” back then.