The Chau Chak Wing Museum in association with the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens presents a celebration of Greek culture, games and conversation.
In Greece, the kafenio is a place where people come to drink coffee, to discuss politics, philosophy and their neighbours, and of course to play tavli (backgammon). Throughout Kafenio 1 you will have the opportunity to explore the social and cultural context of board games throughout history, handle and view special artefacts, photographs and artworks from Greece and around the globe, and of course, play some games!
This free celebration of games and Greek culture is supported by The Nicholas Anthony Aroney Estate Greek Cultural Program.
Two days of free all-ages activities
Weekend 10 – 11 April
Join us as we turn the Museum into a kafenio for the weekend! Learn how to play Greek games both ancient and modern, including tavli and explore the social and cultural context of board games throughout history.
Saturday 10 April, 2–3pm
What can a board game tell us about popular understandings of history? A lot! The evocative historical and mythical imagery of the ancient Mediterranean world is a popular source of material for movies, TV shows, comics, video games… and board games! Board games have a long history, but their character and variety has changed dramatically in recent decades. This talk will survey recent board games drawing on the ancient world—especially the ancient Greek world—and examine some of the ways that these games reveal modern attitudes towards the ancient past.
The lecture will be broadcast in the Nelson Meers Foundation Auditorium with Dr Hamish Cameron presenting this lecture live from New Zealand. Those joining in person do not need to register.
A Zoom link will be provided prior to the event.
Register to attend online
Sunday 11 April, 2pm
In the ancient Greek world board games were not always simply board games. Through a mythological lens such apparently simple and pedestrian daily pursuits could be elevated to the heroic realm where questions of Fate, life, and death could be examined, and examples for correct social behaviour could be established. An array of iconographic, literary and artefactual evidence will be presented in this lecture so as to gain a deeper understanding of what board games may have meant to the ancients both in life and death.
Nelson Meers Foundation Auditorium
Register to attend in-person
A Zoom link will be provided prior to the event
Register to attend online
Monday 12 – Friday 16 April | 10-11am, 11am-12pm
Just like us, ancient people played board games for fun and to socialise with friends and family. This April the Chau Chak Wing Museum will travel back in time to allow visitors to play a number of ancient board games.
So get your game on and learn to play the ancient games of senet, 5-lines and tavli (backgammon), and challenge your skills in some real ancient board games. Speak to the Museum education team about the role of gaming in people’s lives and enjoy a rare chance to handle ancient artefacts. Fun for kids aged 5-12 and their families!
Thursday 8 April, 6.30pm
Board games have been part of human culture for millennia. The ways we come together to compete with chance and strategy, using tokens on a playing surface, leave interesting and often puzzling remnants in the archaeological record. This lecture explores the archaeology of board games popular in the Greek world from antiquity to today, examining what kinds of boards and playing pieces have been uncovered, including those from the Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project. We will look at how scholars use literary and physical evidence to understand how to play these games and the ways in which elements of ancient games survive in some of our most popular games today.
Featured image (top of page): Attic Black-Figure Neck Amphora, attributed to the Medea Group (detail), c. 510 BC. Getty Museum 71.AE.441