Aseb: Twenty Squares

by Vincent on July 16, 2011

The ancient Egyptian game of Aseb, also known as ‘The Twenty Squares game’ is one of the oldest known games dating back to about 3000 BC. Boards from the 17th Dynasty have been found, evidence that the game was played for thousands of years.

It is sometimes found on the underside of Senet boards and played with Senet pieces. At some point in history the two games merged and led to the development of Backgammon.

Aseb’s similarities to the Sumerian ‘Royal Game of Ur’ suggest that it may have been imported from Mesopotamia by the Hyksos.

Photo of a Royal Game of Ur board by Julio Martinez CC By-NC-ND

Download the Ancient Egyptian game of Aseb by right-clicking on the image below and selecting ‘Save as’:


Further reading:
The Online Guide to Traditional Games
Download the Aseb PDF By Daniel U. Thibault

4 Responses to “Aseb: Twenty Squares”

  • Olaf Larsson says:

    I found the “Royal game of Ur” in a history book about Mesopotamia. I started to study it and I have the following suggestion:

    “The original Ur board” and “2nd century BC Ur board” are identical regarding “game logic” if you assume that the path taken should make a loop in the 2×3 block rather then each player should make a turn.

    See folling image:

    If the players make a loop instead of a turn in the “The original Ur board” the distance of 3 empty blocks between the stars/rosettes in the path is also maintained.

    I could be that the game logic of “Royal game of Ur” is identical to “2nd century BC Ur board”. But that the path taken by the bricks has just been “folded” out of “practical purposes” to make the gaming board shorter.

    Olaf Larsson

    • Vincent says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Olaf. That’s an interesting idea. It seems obvious now you’ve pointed it out, I wonder if you are the first to have made that observation.

  • Maryna says:

    Your link to the game pdf no longer exist, is there an alternative link?


  • Vincent says:

    Thanks for letting me know Maryna. I have now fixed the link and you can once again download the PDF.

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