Archaeologists in Israel have discovered an entertainment complex with spa and game room as well as evidence of a large ceramic workshop. The discovery was made in the town of Gedera in central Israel by IAA.

The 3rd century complex included a game room, where four boards of games were carved onto large stone benches, including two for mancala, an ancient game that is still played today all over the world. In the centre of the room an additional large game board was found. The discovery was made in an area which archaeologists believe was a pottery industry and aimed at offering a pleasant way to have a break from hard work. A cabinet placed in one corner probably contained cups and bowls to be used by workers at their breaks. The complex also included a spa with 20 baths of hot and cold water.

The discovery was made during construction works two years ago and archaeologists initiated excavations at the site with the help of students as part of an educational program.

Although there is no historical record of the workshop it seems that it operated uninterruptedly for about 600 years, so archeologists conclude that it was probably a family workshop, passed on from one generation to the next, where a certain type of ceramics were manufactured, namely the “Gaza” wine jars. On some of the shreds researchers found the potters’ fingerprints.

The discovery is quite significant reminding us that people thousands of years ago still needed time to play and relax and that working conditions can be improved when there is will.