Ancient Sumerian Board Game


Ancient Sumerian board games have a long and rich history, with some dating back to as early as 3500 BC. Games such as the Royal Game of Ur, and the Royal Game of Hounds and Jackals had rules that were inscribed on stone tablets found in Iraq. In fact, these ancient board games were deeply cherished by Sumerians, who believed that literacy and gaming contained poetic aspects of the universal knowledge. This game was considered a divine entertainment, which was taught to them by their God Enki, who is said to have created several versions of it.

The various versions played out on grids carved in marble slabs and decorated with figures. The pieces used ranged from bits of shell or clay cubes to sticks etched with cuneiform writing. As each generation added new variations on these strategies, an endless list of rules grew along with complex decision making techniques.

What started off as a fun activity for any family or social gathering quickly emerged into ritualistic practices for religious occasions or royal ceremonies. These ceremonial activities held great significance for the high aristocracy; this importance enforced by those in power what would later be enshrined in literature.

Today Ancient Sumerian board games may still be relevant as we can spend hours of enjoyable time playing with our friends and family using strategy-based activities — just like the earliest recorded civilization did centuries ago! Technology has enabled us to bring traditional games such as Nine Men’s Morris, Fevga and Reversi right into our living rooms or onto our mobile phones – so modern players can experience a little piece of ancient Mesopotamian culture while they play!


Ancient Sumerian board games were some of the earliest in history. These board games differed from modern board games due to their lack of defined rules, objectives, and pieces. Instead, these ancient games were more unpredictable and creative.

In most Sumerian board games, two players would take turns with a move. Their moves were then followed by a response or reaction to set up the next move. The aim of the game was to outsmart your opponent by predicting their reactions and flourishes. The game had no time limits or specific objectives either – instead, it relied on creativity to be successful.

The pieces used in Ancient Sumerian board games often varied. Some common pieces included stones and shells, whilst weapons like spears and arrows could also be used as pieces. Players could also use coins or clay tablets as playing pieces on occasion. In some instances, boards and stones would be replaced with a hoop denoted by lines drawn in the sand each player would have access to- these are referred to as “hoop games” today.

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To win an Ancient Sumerian board game players must demonstrate superior strategy against their opponents using subtle tactics such as deception and surprise maneuvers. Ancient Sumerian board games left no room for chance or luck; they instead required strategy, wit and good decision making to come out victorious!

Impact on Modern Times

Ancient Sumerian board games have served as an inspiration for a variety of modern-day versions. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in these tabletop games among hobbyists and enthusiasts. While the original rules, pieces, and boards are no longer available, many game designers have used them as inspirations to create new versions that remain faithful to the look and feel of the original.

Examples of how Ancient Sumerian Board Games have been re-imagined for modern times include titles such as Kingdom Builder, Thebes and Through the Desert which are all inspired by Sumerian design elements such as terrain gridding and resource collection. Through these adaptations, players are still able to unearth ancient secrets while experiencing tactical strategy through dice rolling or card drawing.

The popularity of these modern adaptations is evident from their widespread availability in specialty shops and online retailers, allowing a larger audience to easily experience these unique games. Moreover, hobbyists can further enhance their gaming experience with 3D gaming boards, bricks or custom themed tokens which have become increasingly popular due to the rise of 3D printing services. This newfound interest has allowed gaming conventions dedicated to specialty board games to grow exponentially amongst gamers seeking something more than the typical Monopoly or Clue style game. Therefore it’s clear that Ancient Sumerian Board Games still manages to hold captivate players today with their insightful designs are intricately woven stories from millennia ago.

Examples of New and Adapted Games

One example of a retro-revival of an ancient Sumerian board game is the classic game “Mehen”. This two-player strategy game originated in the early third millennium BC and consists of a large spiral board with several circular moves spaced evenly along the track. In modern versions, players use tokens instead of pawns to move around the board as they attempt to win by reaching the center.

Another example of an adapted ancient Sumerian board game is “Hounds and Jackals.” The equally ancient two-player game requires its players to alternate dropping counters into predetermined slots on a three-legged table that resembles a dogs’ paw print. In modern versions of this game, pieces are placed strategically around a reproduction board that looks like an old animal hide.

Finally, one example of a new game inspired by Sumerian culture is “Sumer Harvest” which was developed in 2020 by Stratadigm Games. It is played on an agricultural map made up for seasonal tiles and harvest yield cards that can be used to build farms and temples. Players take turns pushing their luck and resources to be the first to create successful settlements in one of four unique cultures referencing themes from Ancient Mesopotamia.

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The Future of Ancient Board Games

The world of gaming is only getting larger and more expansive, as Ancient board games become increasingly popular among younger generations. As more people around the world take an interest in exploring the world of gaming, Ancient Sumerian Board Games are likely to see a rise in popularity. This could mean that new adaptations and variations of these classic games are developed for use in modern gaming contexts. Additionally, the potential to involve tech or digital elements like AR or VR into ancient-style gaming is particularly exciting and could open up a whole new level of play. Finally, there could be opportunities to explore these games further by researching their history and discovering lost rulesets and strategies associated with them, making them an even richer experience for players old and new alike. With all these possibilities, adapting and evolving ancient board games looks very promising indeed!


Ancient Sumerian Board Games are incredibly important to maintain due to the historical significance they represent. It is remarkable that these games, created so long ago, still exist today and can be enjoyed by people all over the world. It is an important reminder of how long human civilizations have been utilizing boards and dice for gaming entertainment, as well as strategic thinking and problem solving. Furthermore, these ancient board games demonstrate that indigenous societies had sophisticated understandings of mathematics and geometry which enabled them to create such intricate game systems. Keeping Ancient Sumerian Board Games preserved is also essential in its contribution to our understanding of ancient cultures and their achievements.

In addition to preserving history and providing insight into past cultures, Ancient Sumerian Board Games can still offer valuable entertainment in the 21st century. People can take advantage of the advanced technology available today to create more immersive experiences with the same rules and mechanics that have been used for several thousands of years now. Through modernization it is possible for us to continue enjoying these timeless classics but with a renewed relevance in contemporary society.

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