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The royal game of Ur. Source: Trustees of the British Museum / CC by SA 4.0.

Playing the 4,500-Year-Old Royal Game of Ur (Video)

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What happens when a popular Youtuber takes on the British Museum curator at one of history’s oldest board games? That’s just what happened when Tom Scott challenged Irving Finkel to a Royal Game of Ur match. A relic from the cradle of civilization, the game is 4500 years old, originating from the ancient Mesopotamian city of Ur, where the Sumerians engaged in strategic and chance-driven gameplay. Despite its antiquity, the game's essence wasn't lost, a discovery owed to cuneiform clues etched by Babylonian hands. Scott, a neophyte, faced Finkel, a sage of 47 years with Sumer's secrets.

Strategy danced with chance on the carved battleground. Tetrahedral dice, inscribed with fate's hand, dictated moves. Scott's pieces traversed the board, striving to outpace Finkel's. Yet, the aged contest harbored cunning; a tactical dance unfolded with precarious plays. Each roll, a twist of destiny. The finish line neared as tension mounted. An impending sense of victory or defeat loomed. Through a symphony of moves, Scott and Finkel carved a tale upon the game's timeless canvas. The Royal Game of Ur, a bridge from ancient Mesopotamia to the present, whispered its secrets once more, revealing that beyond millennia, the allure of strategy and chance endures, and the joy of winning transcends time's grasp.

Top image: The royal game of Ur. Source: Trustees of the British Museum / CC by SA 4.0.

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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