The ostomachion (the battle of the bones) the first puzzle

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The ostomachion (the battle of the bones)
the first puzzle


It was a spiritual game, predecessor of the puzzle. It probably resulted from a mathematical problem of Archimedes, or vice versa. The game consists of a square base divided into 14 geometric pieces. The aim of the game was to reshape, in as many ways possible, using all the pieces, the square or some of the 9 particular figures (a helmet, a goose in flight, a tower, a column, an elephant, a boar, a barking dog and a stalking hunter).

In the problem, Archimedes demonstrates that for each of the 14 pieces, the area of the square is an integer multiple of the area of each piece.

SOURCES: "Palimpsest Archimedes, (O)Stomachion", "J. L. Heiberg, Archimedis opera omnia"