Deciphering Patterns: Royal Game Of Ur Board

Comfortably Numb

Justified & Ancient
Aug 7, 2018
Deciphering the Patterns of the Royal Game of Ur Board - Part 1

Date: 5 March, 2020

The world’s first known board game was found in Mesopotamia (c. 2600 BC). Despite this, Egyptian beliefs help us best to understand the Royal Game of Ur’s board design, rules and all. Especially the myth of Osiris and Isis.

A later version of the Royal Game of Ur board. The black enhancing outline added by author. Thebes, Egypt. c. 1635–1458 BC. ( The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund (1916) / Provided by the author)

Foreign Origin of the Game of Ur Board?

Board games similar to the Game of Ur were played through antiquity and have been found in several countries. The board’s top was elongated in the years that passed, so the central axis contained twelve squares instead of eight, but no side squares.

The particular object for this article, a board from the Royal Tombs of Ur in Sumer – or Mesopotamia, of which Sumer was an early southern part, is a first-generation board. Maybe even the ‘mother board’ of simpler copies from the same excavations, copies displaying other, clearly Mesopotamian motifs. These other motifs don’t give the same gut feeling that you get from the patterns on this famous board: that they are meaningful symbols placed with precise intent.

Should you remotely have understood, 'Part 1' - personally, I am none the wiser - Part 2, may be found here: