Known as the Game of Twenty Squares, the royal game of Ur was certainly something they were playing, from around 2,600 BC up to much later. The game, pictured, was found with one other similar board inset with jade and such, in modern day Iraq. It is one of the oldest examples of board gaming equipment ever found, though not as old as Senet, an ancient Egyptian game that really does resemble chess, but in any case shows the early marking and rules for aspects of chess, chequers and backgammon. Better than that though, the royal game of Ur was sometimes played on walls, scratched into stone, and as such was called graffito…. A graffito version of the game was discovered on one of the human-headed winged bull statues, standing as gate sentinels in the palace of Sargon II (721–705 BC) in the city of Khorsabad,Assyria (then Mesopotamia) now in the British Museum in London. Useful, if not classy pre-BC graffiti. Not much changes after all in human nature.
The royal game of Ur, whether on the wall or on a board, was a speed game using dice. We know
this because a tablet was found in the ancient
Mesopotamian language of Cuneiform, explaining some of the rules. The British Museum have a created a version of the game that you can play online with the right plugins (free to download).
“Luckily, the rules for a ‘game of twenty squares’ are talked about in cuneiform texts. It was a race game, with two players trying to beat each other to the end of the board.
People in many parts of the ancient world played the ‘game of twenty squares’ and boards have been found from Egypt to India, and date from around 3000 B.C. up until modern times.”