Archaeologists find 350-year-old gambling hall in Pskov

Archaeologists find 350-year-old gambling hall in Pskov

Pskov archaeologists have found in the city center the location of an illegal gambling establishment of the XVII century. “Underground casino” was found as a result of excavations on the site of a former thermal power plant.

Historians found a bench for the game of alkerk, an analogue of modern checkers. Although this game is now legal and belongs to the type of table entertainment, in the times of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, alkerk was played with money and it was forbidden by law.

According to the Sobor Decree of 1649, gamblers faced punishment. The most innocuous was a whipping, but the offender could also have his ears, fingers, or even his hand cut off. For fear of being caught, players hid their hobby. The playing field found in the excavations was mapped on a regular bench – in case of a raid, the board could be quickly covered with a rag or simply sat on it.

Archaeologists have noted that this is not the only find associated with gambling. Earlier excavations in Pskov found many alkerk chips.

Sarah Richardson

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