The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

Visit British Museum Website to Play 5000 Year Old Senet Game

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Senet game

From Egypt
New Kingdom, 1550-1069 BC

Board games were very popular among all levels of society, especially the game of senet, or ‘passing’. The game was first played in the Predynastic period, and a form of it is still played in Egypt today.

Senet could be played with highly decorated sets, plain sets or simply on a grid of three rows of ten squares scratched in the dust or on a stone. Each player had a set of seven pieces. The players threw sticks or knuckle bones to move around the board via the squares indicating good or bad fortune. The object of the game was to safely navigate all the pieces off the board, while preventing the opponent from doing the same.

Tomb scenes showing the deceased relaxing and playing the game illustrate its part in the leisure time of the rich. These depictions can also be interpreted as a reference to the fact that the deceased must find his way past many obstacles to reach the Afterlife, rather like a gaming piece on a senet board. The game was also represented in a satirical cartoon drawn on a papyrus and showing a lion and an antelope happily playing together.

You can play Senet on-line at The British Museum’sAncient Egypt website (requires Shockwave).

M. Stead, Egyptian life (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)



Author: Daniela

I was born in Croatia, at that time Yugoslavia. My family moved to the US when I was very young, but I still treasure the memories of my grandfather teaching me how to protect myself against the "evil eye," my grandmother shopping early every morning, at the open air market, to buy the freshest vegetables for the day's meals, and the traditions that were the underpinnings of our society. Someone once noted that "For all of us that want to move forward, there are a very few that want to keep the old methods of production, traditions and crafts alive." I am a fellow traveler with those who value the old traditions and folk wisdom. I believe the knowledge they possess can contribute significantly to our efforts to build a more sustainable world; one that values the individual over the corporation, conservation over growth and happiness over wealth.

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