Games in Ancient Egypt
The ancient Egyptians enjoyed playing board games in their spare time much as people do to this day. Evidence of these board games have been found in Egypt dating back to the Predynastic Period. Below you will find information about two of the most popular board games: Mehen and Senet. You will also find downloads with further information about the games, including game boards and instructions to play at home.
Who is Mehen?
Mehen is a coiled snake god who protected the sun god, Ra, during their nightly journey through the underworld within his enormous coils.
Mehen coiled around the boat of Ra in the tomb of Ramesses I (KV16), Valley of the Kings, West bank of Luxor, Egypt.
A history of the game
The Mehen game was played in Egypt from the Predynastic Period until the Middle Kingdom, 5000 to 4000 years ago. The game recreates the nightly battle between the god and the enemies of the sun god, Ra. The example below was discovered by the Egypt Exploration Society in 1898 at the site of Diospolis Parva. It is a mystery how the game was played in Ancient Egypt but we have some ideas on the downloadable resource below – see if you can think of other ways to play Mehen.
A Mehen board found during EES excavations at Diospolis Parva
To play Mehen yourself, download our game pack here
A painting of Queen Nefertari playing a game of senet
What is Senet?
Senet was the most popular game played in Ancient Egypt and was played as early as the Third Dynasty over 4600 years ago! But it was not just a game for the ancient Egyptians. It symbolised their personal quest for immortality in the afterlife. The board in our downlodaable games pack below is based on examples from the New Kingdom almost 3500 years ago and includes some special squares to make the game more exciting.
A senet box in the British Museum, London (EA35922)
To play Senet yourself, download our game pack here