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Ancient Egyptian Game of Senet

Play the ancient game of the Pharaohs.
Ancient Egyptian Game of Senet
Board games were a favorite pastime in Egypt, and Senet was the most popular of these. It was played by two people, either on elaborate carved and inlayed boards like the one found in Tutankhamen’s tomb, or simply scratched into the earth. The oldest known representation of Senet is in a painting from the tomb of Hesy, from 2686 BC.

Many actual boards, with their counters and throw sticks (or “knucklebones”) have survived intact, but the rules of the game are not fully understood, there have been a number of attempts to reconstruct the game.

senetpaintingThe game board had thirty squares laid out in three rows of ten. Some of the squares had symbols on them and the path of the counters probably followed a reversed S across the board. Ancient Egyptian Game of Senet The symbols represented ether good or bad fortune, and affected the play accordingly.

The movement of the counters was decided by throwing four two-sided sticks or, in some cases, knucklebones. Senet, means “passing” and had a religious significance – the aim of each player being to move their pieces around the board and avoiding hazards.

Good luck was a blessing from the gods and the winner was the first to pass into the afterlife by getting all their pieces off the board.

With colourful -graphics and fun sound effects this reconstructed version of Senet is not only a game of chance, a bit of skill and strategy is also required.

You may use the material on this site for Educational, non-profit purposes provided I’m credited with a link back to this site. To use the materials on this site please eMail me and ask permission. All Text & artwork is © Mark Millmore. Discovering Egypt Website Established 1997