Clay cuneiform tablet; explanatory diagram and rules for playing the game of 20 squares (Royal Game of Ur). Colophon of Itti-Marduk-balatu.
- Ruler: Seleucus IV Philopator
- Regnal Date (Day/Month/Year of reign): 3/6/135
- Width: 9.4 centimetres
- Height: 10 centimetres
- Depth: 2.8 centimetres
This cuneiform tablet contains the world’s oldest known rules for a board game, recorded by a Babylonian astronomer in 177 BC.
The original game had evolved and was now played for bets with five different pieces per player. The front of the tablet (pictured right) shows how the central squares were also used for fortune-telling.
Bottero, Syria 33, 30-35. Weidner, Syria 33, 175-183. Finkel, Board Games, 16-32. Oelsner, Materialien, 229 no. 845.
On display: G56/dc16
2012 28 Nov - 2013 18 Mar, Paris, Musee National du Moyen Age, 'Jeux de la Babylone antique a l'occident medieval'
1991 22 Nov-1992 16 Feb, France, Marseille, Musee de la Vieille Charite, Jeux et Jouets dans l’Antiquite
Fair; possible light flaking of inscribed surface near one corner (assessed 1991)
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Object reference number: WCT70839
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