דף מידע אודות המשחק המלכותי של אוּר (The royal game of Ur)עריכה

מידע זמין בקלות ברשתעריכה

More than 4,500 years old, Ur is the oldest complete game board in the world. In the late 1920’s, during excavation of the city of UR in Mesopotamia (Iraq), Sir Leonard Woolley discovered four boards, three complete, with dice and pieces. Played for over 2000 years, the game must have had some merit. Yet, the only thing missing is the original rules of play.

Two of the boards date from before 2600 BCE. Each of the game boards is composed of a set of twelve squares and a set of six cases linked by a bridge of two cases. One board, thanks to the expert work of Woolley, was rescued relatively intact. It is exhibited in the collections of the British Museum in London. It is sumptuously decorated with shells carved with lapis lazuli and limestone. The squares are all covered with geometrical designs. The second game board, only partially reconstructed, is decorated with sheets of shell carved with images of animals and fighting beasts. The other boards were too decayed for reconstruction and their pieces, dice and plaques were scattered around. One feature all the boards had in common was an arrangement of five squares, each decorated with an eight petal rosette.

Sets of pawns were also found: seven white pawns with five black dots on each and seven black pawns with five white dots. Also two sets of three pyramid-like dice.

Another game board was found more recently in the tomb of the Queen Shub-ad, located about one thousand kilometers from Ur, that gives some clues to the play of that game. At this time two knucklebones, one of a sheep and one of an ox, were used instead of binary dice. The design is simpler with only threes square decorated with a rosette. The Babylonian tablet was discovered by Irving Finkel and dates around 177 BC. Irving Finkel, curator at the British Museum.

"The tablet shows the number and the names of the pawns, one of the dice (two knucklebones: one of sheep, one of ox), and a few details concerning the throws. It appears clearly that each of the five pawns owned by the players were different from one another and that a special throw was required to place each pawn at the beginning of the game. Among the twenty squares on the game board, five are generally decorated with a rosette and it seems that those squares are important in the course of the game. The tablet shows that those squares brought good luck, to place a pawn on them gave an advantage. If a pawn did not stop on a rosette, a penalty had to be paid. The scribe has described the fate of each pawn in a poetical way, the wins and the losses corresponding to the same efforts required to win enough food, drink and love."

The tablet indicates that the game was a race to get one piece to the end of the board. The playing pieces were reduced from seven to five and each was named, requiring a special throw to enter each piece at the start of play. Some details about one die and the throws were also given. Rosette squares brought good luck and an advantage if landed upon; a penalty was paid if the rosette was passed over.

A description of the movement of the pawns is unfortunately missing. The back of the tablet shows four by three squares with zodiac signs and messages of good and bad luck. Mr. Finkel supposes that this was a simple game and a way to foresee the future and the fate of the players. The tablet shows that the game was used for gambling and divination.

In Egypt the game evolved by unfolding the last six squares of the board into a straight line. This is known as the game of twenty squares and was played in many parts of the ancient world. Boards have been found as far as India and some boards found dating to relatively recent times.

הנחות לגבי החוקיםעריכה

Rosettes עריכה

Special squares that must be rewarded if landed on and a corresponding penalty paid if crossed over. Not all rosettes are shared by both players and this must be taken into account when considering rewards.


Followers of Horus invaded early Egypt. The eyes and some attributes may be linked to the game rules. Blind on the night of a new moon. Fights injustice. Protects from danger. Warrior god. Flight over battles.

Last Six Squaresעריכה

The difference between the 20 square boards, for which the tablet was written, and the Ur board is the unfolding of the last six squares. This would mean that all pieces of both sides would move in the same direction and be forced to exit at the last rosette.

Rosettes, rams and bulls were recurring themes found in the tombs of Ur and in Mesopotamian imagery. Images of people or animals between, tethered to or eating rosettes are also common.

Fortune tellingעריכה

On the back of the tablet are twelve squares with zodiac signs and lucky or unlucky messages. “The scribe has described the fate of each pawn in a poetical way, the wins and the losses corresponding to the same effort required to win enough food, drink and love”.

דף נסיוני:עריכה

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