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Royal Game of Ur resurrected

For thousands of years, dating back to 3,000 BCE, the Royal Game of Ur was played across the entire Near East.

Royal Game of Ur resurrected
The Royal Game of Ur dates back to 3,000 BCE [Credit: British Museum]
The game is a race between two players who roll tetrahedral dice and move their seven pieces through the various squares. The objective is to move each piece to the endpoint. If one player’s piece lands on their opponent’s, the latter piece is sent back to the beginning.

After millennia of widespread use, the Game of Ur mysteriously disappeared. Its boards were buried, along with its rules, and the game was forgotten until 1922 when Sir Leonard Wooley’s excavations at the Royal Cemetery at Ur (modern day Iraq) recovered a single board.

In the following years, other boards were unearthed across the Middle East and Northern Africa, and in the 1980s, Dr. Irving Finkel translated the game’s rules.

The Game of Ur is a curious piece of ancient history. Exploring its history allows us to trace the lives of our ancestors, as well as acounts of leisure and gameplay.

One university is working to bring back this mysterious ancient game. Led by Ashley Barlow, an English lecturer and archaeologist at the University of Raparin, the Game of Ur Project is bringing the game back to life.

“We will train our students how to play, and ask them to go into the tea houses across the Bazaar to explain and show the local community,” Barlow said of the project.

The Game of Ur Project is just one of the University of Raparin’s many initiatives. The university also offers one of the most renowned English programs in Iraq.

“The university is always looking for ways to engage with academia, the community, and the wider world,” Salah Khoshnaw, Director of the University of Raparin’s Language and Development Center, said.

The Game of Ur project is important for Raparin’s community. Students will gain hands-on experience in design, marketing, and business, all while learning about their cultural heritage.

Moving forward, Barlow aims to spread the game across the Kurdistan Region and southern Iraq. “We would love to make this a national tournament that brings people together,” he said.

“The idea is to build on an identity that does not revolve around tragedy and grievance, instead, looking to a shared ancient past that can be seen through artwork and locally made products.”

The University of Sulaimani and The British Council have already expressed interest in Raparin’s project.

Author: James Aird | Source: Kurdistan 24 [August 31, 2018]


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