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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ancient Board Games & Pieces

Apparently people have enjoyed playing board games for a very long time. It's interesting to find the progenitors of modern board games in Ancient Near East & Egyptian collections. The ancient Egyptian game, Senet, reminds me of a cross between cribbage and Parcheesi. We have a replica in the SS library that can be borrowed. (Directions included!) They used rib bones instead of die, and I've always appreciated that our replica game gives you the choice of wooden ribs or die. I think it's fun for the kids to figure out how many spaces to move by how the "bones" fall. We know a little more about this game, due to representations in tomb art and other ancient references, than we do about other Early Bronze games from the Ancient Near East. There's a Hounds & Jackals peg game in the Ancient Near East room at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston that closely resembles a cribbage board. Be sure to check it out if you visit. If you would like to read more about ancient games, you may enjoy this site, featuring games played in ancient Nabatea (think Petra) and common throughout the Near East.

                      Ivory Senet game from the tomb of Tutankhamun (c.1333 BC), Egyptian Museum

Egyptian Hounds & Jackals game, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ancient Near East game boards and pieces, Early Bronze


                                           Royal Game of Ur (British Museum) [Replica Game]

[Israeli Antiquities Authority website; The British Museum website]

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