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Making and Playing The Royal Game of Ur

Instructor:  Jason Charbonneau

Ages: 15 up

Format:  3 - 4 hour workshop

Dates:  Friday,  July 12th

Time: 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 

Course Fee:  $75.  All supplies and materials included ;  Slate, paints, brushes, palettes, tetrahedral game dice (4), 14 game pieces, pre-made pouches and use of all tools and supplies etc.  

Making and Playing The Royal Game of Ur

  • In this workshop Jason will guide you through the hand making of the world’s very first board game !  The Royal Game of UR; also known as the Game of 20 Squares, which dates back to Mesopotamia and 5000 years !  It is absolutely addictive.  It’s a compelling race game of skill, chance and strategy.  It’s fun to play and even better in that you will construct the game board yourself.  Each board will be made of 12" x 8" slate , of which you will paint with acrylics by following a prototype, adding gold leafing if you choose, then sealing for permanency.  You will mark the 4 tetrahedral (pyramid shaped) dice, sand, drill or paint the game pieces  and even laminate the instructions if you’d like. The whole game will go into a pouch, of which we’ll make for you !   You'll then learn to play the game, wanting instantly to begin a game of Ur club !!  It’s a really good game and so excitingly unpredictable.  There’s no real need for the use of math, statistics or calculations, but you can try them if you wish !! 

    The oldest complete board game ever discovered was found inside the Royal tombs at the ancient Sumerian city of Ur in Mesopotamia. Ur of the Chaldees is mentioned in the Bible and the tombs were built more than 5000 years ago. The actual name of the game isn't known and so it has become known as 'The Royal Game of Ur'.  No-one actually knows how the game was played but multiple game historians have used evidence from various sources to conjecture rules, most notably Dr. Irving Finkel, the inimitable British Museum games specialist who broke new ground by deciphering a cuneiform tablet with rules for the game from a later era. A set of proposed rules is included within the game.  Everyone at the time played this game, from paupers to royalty, and it was played for thousands of years, overtaken only by Backgammon because it was propelled by the Romans. There are a few commercialized games of UR to be found on line,  but you can make one with us, share with your friends, and they'll ALL want to make one !   

  • Jason Charbonneau has a wide range of interests, including history.  He came upon this game while researching other interest pursuits and he's so glad he did.  He's been teaching his friends and family eve since, and now has everyone addicted to the game !   He follows professor Finkel and will probably continue to make and play other games he's found.  Jason has been a professional state line painter for over 20 years,  is a trained cabinet maker, home builder as well as a true outdoor enthusiast.   Besides making and repairing guitars, his interests also include, travel, history, Chinese Water color, clay hand work, acrylic painting, film making, agriculture, wood carving, wood burning; Jason is a true Renaissance Man.


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