- Museum number
Clay cuneiform tablet; explanatory diagram and rules for playing the game of 20 squares (Royal Game of Ur). Colophon of Itti-Marduk-balatu.
- Regnal date
135/8/3 (day ?)
Height: 10 centimetres
Width: 9.40 centimetres
Depth: 2.80 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- 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)
- Exhibition history
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)
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number