Tabletop games Wargaming

Senet

Senet (or Senat) is a board game from predynastic and ancient Egypt. The oldest hieroglyph representing a Senet game dates to around 3100 BC. The full name of the game in Egyptian was zn.t n.t ḥˁb meaning the "game of passing".

History

Senet in hieroglyphs
Senet (Sn.t, "passage/gateway")
Painting in tomb of Egyptian Queen Nefertari (1295-1255 BC)

Senet is one of the oldest known board games. It has been found in predynastic and First Dynasty burials of Egypt, c. 3500 BC and 3100 BC respectively. Senet is also featured in a painting from the tomb of Merknera (3300-2700 BC). Another painting of this ancient game is from the Third Dynasty tomb of Hesy (c. 2686-2613 BC). It is also depicted in a painting in the tomb of Rashepes (c. 2500 BC).

By the time of the New Kingdom in Egypt (1550-1077 BC), it had become a kind of talisman for the journey of the dead. Because of the element of luck in the game and the Egyptian belief in determinism, it was believed that a successful player was under the protection of the major gods of the national pantheon: Ra, Thoth, and sometimes Osiris. Consequently, Senet boards were often placed in the grave alongside other useful objects for the dangerous journey through the afterlife, and the game is referred to in Chapter XVII of the Book of the Dead.

Gameplay

The Senet gameboard is a grid of 30 squares, arranged in three rows of ten. A Senet board has two sets of pawns (at least five of each and, in some sets, more, as well as shorter games with fewer). While details of the original game rules are a subject of some conjecture, Senet historians Timothy Kendall and R. C. Bell have each made their own reconstructions of the game. Their rules have been adopted by sellers of modern Senet sets.

In modern culture

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