Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hounds and the Jackals

Hounds and Jackals is the oldest board game found from the First Kingdom. Today it might be the original "Game of the Goose" or "Snakes and Ladders". When I first read this I thought that it said "Chutes and Ladders". You play this game with five pieces per player and these pieces looked like hound and jackals heads on a stick. The object of the game is to roll the dice and try to get from the lowest numbered hole to the highest numbered hole (29th) first. Watch out for those special holes. Cobra heads are good and lizard tails are bad. The cobra head will give you an extra turn and those lizard tails move you back to the lizard's head. The first player to get into the cobra’s eye at the 29th hole on their side of the board is the winner of the race, and the other player must forfeit his piece. So you keep doing this till you capture all of your opponent's Doggie Popsicles. After you do this, you win. This game isn't as exciting as video games but of course the Egyptians didn't have video games so I would see why they would play it.

King Tut's Favorite Game.

King Tut's favorite game was Senet. Have you ever liked a game so much that you wanted to take it with you when you die? King Tutankhamen did. He was buried with four very elaborate Senet boards. They were made of ivory and ebony. These materials are worth a lot of dough today.

Senet was the game of choice for many of the pharohs and the upper class during the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom.

Senet was the Egyptian's version of a Wii. We can spend hours playing the Wii and the Egyptians could spend hours playing Senet.
Games like Senet have been a part of our societies for over four thousand years.

SENET- Senet is actually a race game, like Backgammon or Parcheesi. The rules are not known with certainty but the first one to move their pieces around the 30 spaces in an S shape was the winner. Pharohs played this game and tried to master its strategy. They felt that it would give them great power in the afterlife if they mastered this game.

The Forbidden Game, ssssssssssssSee it here.

Mehen, The Game of the Snake is also know as the Forbidden Game. This game was the only multi-player board game ever found. In Egypt you would think that they would have more multi-playered boardgames for such an advanced society. In Mehen you use throwing sticks to move like in Senet. The object of the game is to get to Ra ( the middle of the playing board) and to be the first player back out. When you are the first player to get all your pieces off the board and get your predator piece " The Destroying Arm of Mehen " and then go back on the playing board and eat the other players. If you have to lose, just don't be the BIGGEST LOSER!!

This game had a religious meaning to it. Egyptians thought that Ra wouldn't rise again if they didn't win the game. Some people think that this game was forbidden in the Middle Kingdom. They felt that Ra (God of the Sun) and Mehen (God of the Serpents) were like fire and water, they didn't go together. They thought that playing the game angered Ra. So at the start of the Middle Kingdom there were no more Mehen boards found. I think the people who banned this game were a little bit how do you put it, wacko.

Games of the Ancient Egyptians

Ancient Egyptians love to play games as much as we do today. Many of the games we play today are very similar to the games that the Egyptians played. Evidence of the Egyptian games were found in tombs of the ancient pyramids built in 2600 B.C. Drawings of the Egyptians playing games along with board games themselves were found at many different burial sites. Based on the hieroglyphics on the wall, I think that they had game night a couple times a week. My family has game night about three times a month. I would love to have game night every week.

They played games for fitness and for entertainment. Like us they were very competitive. They played outdoor games like wrestling, hockey, jumping, running. An interesting fact about how they played hockey is that they used palm branches to hit the “puck," a small leather ball stuffed with papyrus. I would like to play that game because it seems like a lot of fun. Wrestling tournaments and running and jumping races were well documented with hieroglyphics. Many games were just played for fun. That is why I play games. These games were mostly board games. But over time some of the fun board games developed a religious meaning. Some of the games were even banned because it was thought that angered certain gods. If a board game that I played angered a God, I would quit playing it too. All classes of Egyptians played board games but the upper class had board games made of ivory and ebony. King Tut was buried with four different Senet boards. I don’t know why King Tut had four Senet boards buried with him. You can only play one game at a time even if you were a mummy. Maybe he was planning a mummy Senet tournament.

Take Your Games to the Afterlife.

The Egyptians believed that some games were played in the afterlife by the pharaohs. They thought in order to have a good afterlife, they had to be very skilled at playing the board games. How about that for pressure?

Some hieroglyphics were found in a tomb that explained why a pharaoh’s tomb was robbed, -because he was poor at playing games.
Some games had a religious meaning. Many games used RA (the sun god). They felt the sun would not rise if the God of Evil (jackal), defeated RA in a game of Mehen. I bet those were some pretty intense games.
The wealthy Egyptians went to great expense making board games to play in their life and in their afterlife. King Tutankhamen (18th Dynasty) was buried with four elaborate Senet board games that resembled pieces of furniture.