Chessbase presents the latest in the continuing epic of whether the Lewis chess pieces were created in Iceland or created in Norway (most likely in Trondheim).
The Lewis Chessmen: Lilleøren's final remark
27.03.2012– The Icelandic-Norwegian battle over the origin of the famous (infamous?) Lewis Chessmen – a collection of chess pieces, handcrafted in the 12th century – has been waging for almost two years now. The Norwegian critic of the Icelandic theory, Morten Lilleøren, has sent us final remarks. With it we close our discussion of the subject, which may be continued in archeological and historical journals.
I won't go into blah blah blah - the denials are about the same, as per the usual "cannot see the forest for the trees" blinders that experts put on when challenged by non-intelligentsia. The nerve of those non-intellectuals!
Really, darlings, what difference does it make to the greater picture that there are not any Icelandic sagas known to have survived that are older or date about to the date of the Lewis chessmen? That proves nothing.
It does, however, make a difference that bishop pieces - that is BISHOP - as in the Roman Catholic Church version of the cleric, are known to pre-date the Lewis pieces, including one piece presented in the Chessbase article by Morten Lilleoren. He states that this piece:
which he identifies as:
A chess bishop carved of walrus ivory. The ivory itself has been radiocarbon dated within the usual 95% probability to 770-990 CE.
Also, note that the bishop’s miter is worn facing sideways, to borrow Robinson’s description, rather that frontally. This miter orientation predates the frontally worn type, which is found among the Lewis chessmen.
Changing focus, and viewing the canopy/piece as a whole, the old Arabic abstract shape of the alfil piece (with horns) is visible, too.
The bishop that predates the Lewis chessmen. From the private collection of Jean-Jaques Marquet, curator of the Louvre.
is evidence that those arguing for an Icelandic origin of the Lewis pieces are full of baloney.
Hmmmm, seems to me, however, that this may prove just the opposite. If the Bishop piece was this widespread elsewhere in Europe for a couple hundred years before the date the Lewis chess pieces were made, why would the Bishop as a chess piece not also have been known and used and made/carved/ and possibly even distributed abroad from a production center in Iceland?
In the greater picture, it is, in fact, quite possible. The piece the writer uses to discount the Icelandic theory rather, in fact, would seem to support their argument just by virtue of its very existence and age!
I don't think this argument is over. Let's see what develops.
This Chessbase article does include a list of the articles discussing the "argument" and it's worth reading them over, if you're interested either in this argument or the development of medieval western chess in general. Well worth the time. So says this amateur chess "herstorian."