The Royal Game of Ur - Minimalist Design




About: Random creative stuff. Strong weakness for Upcycling, Open Source Hardware / Software and Industrial Vintage Design.

A few weeks ago I wanted to make something out of wood, preferably a board game. While searching for suggestions, I came across a video of the British Museum about the game "The Royal Game of Ur" and was immediately impressed. The game was quite easy to learn and seemed to be a lot of fun for the players. When I found out that the corresponding boards were discovered during excavations in the 1920s and dated to around 2600 BC, I had found my new project. Which I then successfully completed. :)

Since I wanted to build a second one anyway, I thought it would be great to document this ...

Step 1: Tools and Parts


  • Saw
  • Grinder
  • Folding rule
  • Pen
  • Brush
  • File for Wood
  • Woodburning Pen/Woodburner
  • Wood Varnish
  • Sewing mashine


  • Plank (I used a board from an old cabinet)
  • Wooden Stick (For example an old Broomstick ^^)
  • Some Scrap Wood
  • Some Remnant
  • Cord

Step 2: The Plan

A game board is needed, for each player seven tokens and three dice.

In terms of the dimensions of the game board, I have oriented myself to the information of the British Museum. The size for dices and tokens were given by the existing material. I used the following measurements:

Board: 30,1 cm (L), 11 cm (W), 2,4 cm (T)

Dices: ~ 1,5 cm (Edge Length)

Tokens: ~ 2,2 (Ø), 0,8 cm (T)

For the storage of the little parts I sewed a small bag. The measurements were at the end approx. 10 cm (H), 11 cm (W).

Step 3: The Game Board

After sawing the board, I divided the length and width by the number of boxes needed and then drawn them on the wood. I also marked and sawed out the cutouts.

Then everything was sanded off well.

Step 4: The Tokens

For the tokens I cut pieces about 1 centimeter wide and sanded them well off, too.

Step 5: The Dices

Hind! If you own a 3D printer, you can print the dice yourself. This is less work and you will definitely get a nicer / more accurate result. The user RobhJoh did that in his Instructable.

For the cubes I drew triangles with a side length equal to the wood thickness on the wood.

After sawing, I then made a point on one side in the middle. And removed each of the three sides diagonally to the point so that a tip is formed.

I then ground off the subtleties by eye.

Step 6: Woodburning

Instead of rosettes, I decided to burn crosses and give the whole thing a minimalist design.

With the Woodburning Pen i made a cross in the second square from the right and the first square from the left at the top and bottom rows. A fifth cross was added in the fourth square from the left in the middle row. I also burned the Edges of the board just for the look.

Two tips each were blackened on the dice.

In the case of the tokens, I have branded seven triangles and seven circles. In addition, the edges where made nice dark.

Step 7: Glaze the Wood

To protect the wood and to give the whole a more beautiful look, I have varnished all the wooden parts. For that I simply used the rest of a glaze for parquet, which is even safe for toys.

Step 8: The Bag

Attention! As you can see from the pictures, I did something wrong and the tunnel openings for the cord are inside. It still works. :D

After the fabric was cut to size, the edges were sewn to prevent tearing. Then two of the pages were folded and sewn accordingly. This will be the edges of the tunnel for the cord. So they will later look nice and not tear. The tunnel was then added to one of the other two sides.

Finally, I then folded the fabric in the middle and sewn it together. After everting, I was able to pull the cord through the tunnel with the help of a safety pin.

Step 9: Finish!

As you can see, in the first version, I made decorative lines on the sides and used a sharp blade to burn the squares. The fabric came from a torn carrying bag.


The game can be played in different ways. The most common is probably that of the above linked video. An overview can be found at

I hope the tutorial was interesting and may have even animated someone to rebuild it. :)


Tim Schabe @Schabenstolz



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8 Discussions


3 months ago

The bag is a great idea! I worry when I have missing game pieces. How about making the bag bigger and have the game fit inside, too?

1 reply

Reply 3 months ago

That's a nice idea. I thought that if you leave the board unpacked, it will invite you to play a bit more. ;-) I also noticed that you can tie the bag very well around the "neck" of the game board.
What I always missed, was a game instructions. I thought about drilling two holes in the side and keeping a small scroll in it. This could then pull out and reinsert.

Thanks for your comment! :)

Kink Jarfold

9 months ago on Step 9

I, too, saw RobhJoh's Instructable and you certainly did a great job capturing the essence of the game. KJ

3 replies
SchabenstolzKink Jarfold

Reply 9 months ago

Yeah, it was not my intention to copycat someones Instructable. At first i was a little worried about that. But now I think it's different enough to have a reason to exist. Thank you very much for your comment. :)

Kink JarfoldSchabenstolz

Reply 9 months ago

I don't think it matters if someone else has the same type of Instructable as you. I made a spindle sander for my drill press and got tons of response then found out there were also tons of better ones out there without the inherent problems mine had. Needless to say, I don't use my drill press as a spindle sander. I'm going to post a UR game, too. Let's see what happens with mine.


SchabenstolzKink Jarfold

Reply 9 months ago

I find this versatility and different versions basically great. Nevertheless, I felt the time of my publication this time a little unhappy. But never mind, thanks for your comment and the little anecdote. I'm looking forward to seeing your version. Have fun tinkering. :)


9 months ago

I love this version! Woodburning makes everything look nicer :D

1 reply

Reply 9 months ago

Thank you very much! Yes that's true. Since I used this technique for the first time, I was positively surprised by the result. I will probably use it more often in the future. :D