Ancient Egypt had games of all kinds, some for fun and entertainment and the others for fitness. Samples of these games have been found in drawings located in the tombs at Saqqara, plus many others. These pyramids were built nearly 2600b.c.e. and believe it or not we still play some of these games to this day. As well as pictures, board games have also been found in tombs from the same time period. Many of the fitness type games depicted in paintings are of common games such as hockey, which used long palm tree branches for sticks and a puck made from stuffed papyrus in between two pieces of leather. There are also pictures of various types of games that use handballs.
Various types of board games have been discovered such as Dogs and Jackals, Senet or Seega, and others such as 20-squares a similar type of game called 30 and 50 squares. Dogs and Jackals games and pieces have been found in tomb of Reny-Seneb. It’s board was made of wood, ebony and ivory and shaped like a piece of furniture and roughly measuring 15x10cm. It had 4 animal carved legs and the board was made of ivory with a palm tree carved into it with fifty five holes. There were drawers that held the ebony pawns that looked like a jackal and a dog’s head on a stick. Three coins were used to determine movements of the pieces on the board and the first person with all pieces at the end won the game.
Senet is another board game that has been found. One of these games was found in the tomb of Hesy along with painting of it and how to play. The rules of this game were very complex. It consisted of a board with 30 holes, 3 rows and 10 columns. Most of the games used 7 pawns, sticks or knucklebones for each of the two players but some only had 5. During the New Kingdom, the game of Senet had acquired a religious and magical meaning which symbolized the passage of the deceased through the netherworld with his resurrection dependant upon his/her ability to win the game. Since boards games of all quality have been discovered it is needless to say that the games were played by all classes of people in Ancient Egypt.
The Game of Senent, and, Dogs and Jackals by Catherine Soubeyrand
Ancient Egyptian Sports