The brain is a magnificent thing and this is clearly something that has not changed over thousands of years. It would appear that ever since people had a taste for thought, they began creating puzzles.
For most people the consumption of knowledge is not merely enough, they also require a good thinking session every now and then. Well, apparently this has been going on for several millennia, across the world. People throughout time have been coming up with ways to entertain and stump one another. Here are a few of the oldest puzzles known to man:
Rhind Mathematical Papyrus Puzzle
Have you ever heard the riddle about the man who was going to St. Ives? It is quite likely that you were asked to solve the problem when you were younger. It is a mathematical problem that involves seven wives who carried seven sacks, each sack had seven cats, and every cat had seven kittens.
It ends with the question, how many wives, cats, sacks, and kittens were going to St. Ives? While the riddle may sound British due to the mention of St. Ives, it is more than likely that it was actually devised from an Ancient Egyptian puzzle that is over 3500 years old! While some aspects of the riddle have been changed, little else has been. The resolution of the puzzle certainly is, requiring the one attempting it to come to the same answer. This puzzle was found on the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus.
Archimedes was known for a great many things including his contribution of the Archimedes Principle. In addition, to coming up with scientific discoveries, Archimedes also dabbled in puzzles. The one that would come to be known as Archimedes’ Stomachion is also considered one of the oldest examples of such as endeavor. It is a dissection puzzle that falls under the category of a mathematical puzzle. This involves a square that Archimedes left precise instructions for on how it should be divided.
The geometrical shapes are also different in size and often in construction as well. Archimedes question was how many different ways could these shapes be arranged to form a square. This has been a query that many people have tried for the longest time. Recently, even computers were brought into help. It is believed that there can be 536 distinct orientations and 17,152 somewhat repetitive solutions. This is a puzzle that everyone with a piece of paper and a ruler can try at home as well.
The Indus Valley Puzzle
This is a mechanical puzzle that involves a ball rolling through a conical maze of sorts. The goal is to roll the ball up the ‘hill’ in the game. While you may have played this game before, it is likely that this one from Mohenjodaro in the Indus Valley is the first of its kind.
This is due to the fact that it has been dated to around 2550 BC – 2250 BC. Part of the complexity of the game is due to the fact that the groves are not very high. Therefore, it is quite easy for the ball to slip over rather than following its dented path. It is amazing to see how such an old game has made such an impression on modern puzzles.
These are a few of some of the oldest puzzles that have been found in recent years. It is interesting to discover if we will find any more.