Part 1

Objects in focusTop 10 historical board gamesTry your hand at ten games spanning over 5,000 years of history – including ancient board games still played today, like the Game of Ur, senet, warri, mahjong and chess.

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The Royal trò chơi of Ur. Wood và shell, found in the Royal Cemetery of Ur, south Iraq, 2600–2400 BC.

The Royal Game of Ur is the oldest playable boardgame in the world, originating around 4,600 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia.

The game’s rules were written on a cuneiform tablet by a Babylonian astronomer in 177 BC. From this, curator Irving Finkel was able khổng lồ decipher the rules – two players compete khổng lồ race their pieces from one over of the board lớn the other. The central squares were also used for fortune telling.

If you want lớn try the game for yourself, you can buy your very own replica from our online siêu thị here.

Discover how khổng lồ play this game of speed and strategy with Tom Scott và Irving Finkel in this video:

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2. The Lewis Chessmen
Wooden wari board, Sierra Leone.

Wari is a game of calculation & strategy played widely within West Africa và also popular elsewhere in the world – you might know it as mancala.

The ayên of the game is lớn capture the seeds of your opponent, moving them from their six playing holes khổng lồ your ngân hàng.

This game board was made in Sierra Leone & is notable for its elaborate sculptural base. It’s decorated with an animal, possibly a pig.

If you don’t have sầu a game board at home, you can play by drawing two rows of six circles on a piece of paper, with an oval at each over, and use 48 marbles, beads, pebbles, or even sweets as your counters.

Find out how lớn play with a from the spruce crafts here (external link).

4. Senet
Ivory game-box for senet. Egypt, 1400–1200 BC.

Some boards, like this one made from a hollowed-out piece of wood faced with ivory, have completely blank squares, whereas others include squares decorated with hieroglyphs representing additional game rules.

On this papyrus, dating to around 1250–1150 BC, a lion plays senet with a gazelle, despite having a bit of trouble holding the pieces.

Set of mahjong tiles made of bone, bamboo, pigment. China, 1800–1900.

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First played during the Qing dynasty in Trung Quốc (1644–1912), mahjong is a strategy based game played using tiles. They are traditionally decorated with Chinese characters, bamboo branches & dots, và special tiles are indicated with winds, dragons, flowers & seasons. This incomplete mix has 140 of the original 144 tiles, which are made from bamboo & bone – each tile weighs just six grams.

It is similar in practice to the thẻ game rummy, và four players draw & disthẻ tiles lớn complete their hvà. The ayên ổn of the game is khổng lồ get all 14 of your tiles inlớn four sets & one pair.

Mahjong was introduced khổng lồ the West in the 19th century, & has grown in popularity internationally since. You can find an exquisitely-made mahjong phối in our online shop here, and master the game for yourself.

6. The Game of the Goose
French, German & Italian versions of the ‘trò chơi of the Goose’

The aim of the game is khổng lồ get your counter lớn the centre of the board, moving counterclockwise according to rolls of a die. Some spaces are accompanied by special rules – for example, if you land on number 58 you must start the game again, or if you land on number 19 you might pay a forfeit và drink until your next turn. Players must score a perfect 63 to win the game.

To play ‘trò chơi of the Goose’ at trang chính, simply copy or print out any of the versions linked in the captions above sầu, which handily hold all the rules on the board, find two dice, and enjoy!

7. Ajax & Achilles’ game of dice
New Board trò chơi of the Four Ranks (Shi-nō-kō-shō shin sugoroku. Woodblock print, nhật bản, 18th century.

First brought khổng lồ nhật bản from Đài Loan Trung Quốc in the 8th century, sugoroku was originally a complex game played by two people with a pair of dice và fifteen counters each, popular among mỏi the Japanese elite.

Affordable woodblock-printed sugoroku sheets were developed in the Ebởi period (1615–1868), meaning this khung of the game – e-sugoroku – meaning ‘picture sugoroku’, could be played widely. It is similar in style to lớn western snakes and ladders, and this 18th-century example uses the hierarchical status system, from merchant khổng lồ artisan, farmer và warrior in ascending order.

It can be played by two or more people, who advance their pieces according to lớn dice rolls around a clockwise spiral. Each player starts at the ‘merchant’ square, in the bottom right-hand corner, và the goal is to reach the largest square in the centre – ‘daimyo lord’s first arrow shooting of the year’, with a picture of a samurai drawing his bow in the presence of high-ranking courtiers.

Each square is illustrated with a different occupation, including fishmongers, pharmacists, plasterers, priests, doctors and scholars. Print the game out và play it for yourself to see if you can spot them all – you’ll just need dice và some counters to lớn get started.

9. Pachisi
(Left) A beadwork gaming board for pachimê say, north west India, 1850–1900, (Right) A cốt tông and velvet game board for pachiđắm say, Sri Lanka, 19th century

Pachimê mệt is an Indian game played since at least the 16th century on a board shaped like a symmetrical cross. The alặng of the game is to move all four of your pieces around the board before your opponents vì, with the central square acting as the start & finish point.

The number of spaces moved on each turn is determined by a throw, traditionally of cowrie shells, & the number of shells which l& with their opening upwards dictates the number of spaces moved. In other iterations of the game, shells are replaced by beehive-shaped pieces, lượt thích these below.

A pale-yellow limestone circular game for mehen. Egypt, Early Dynastic period (around 2925–2575 BC).

Named after the Egyptian snake god, Mehen was played from around 3000 BC until 2300 BC.

The game board is in the shape of a coiled snake, whose toàn thân is divided up inlớn rectangular segments, and teams of up khổng lồ six players race from the tail to lớn the head & bachồng again, with additional lion-shaped gaming pieces.

The rules & scoring system of Mehen are unknown, but a modern equivalent might be Hyena – a North African game where players race a mother piece along a spiral traông xã from the outside (the village), lớn the centre (the well), and baông xã. The first to lớn finish wins and releases a hyena, which also travels along the spiral, eating other players’ pieces as it goes!

We hope you enjoyed our rundown of some historic board games – let us know if they’ve cured your boredom and if you’re enjoying playing any by tweeting us

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Find more great games và perplexing puzzles to lớn challenge your mind in our online shop here.