Senet

Senet may very well be the oldest board game in history. Remains of Senet boards have been discovered in Egypt that date to around 3500 BC. The game of Senet is featured on a painting in the tomb of Merknere (3300-2700 BC) and again on a paintings in the tomb of Hesy (c. 2686-2613 BC) and Raspheses (c. 2500 BC).

Around the time of the New Kingdom in Egypt (1567-1085 BC), Senet had turned into a talisman for the journey of the dead. Due to the element of luck in the game and the Egyptian belief of determinism , people believed that a succesful player was under the protection of the major gods such as Ra and Thoth. Consequently Senet boards were included among the many items that had to accompany the deceased on their dangerous journey through the afterlife. There is a also a reference to the game in the Book of the Dead.

A Senet board is composed of thirty squares which are arranged in rows of ten. There are two sets of pawns (at least five for each player, and in some sets discovered there were more ) Senet was a race game for two players and as far as we can tell moves were determined by tossing throwsticks or knucklebones.

There has been a lot of debate as to the exact rules of the game, and historians have made educated but different guesses. Both T. Kendall and R.C. Bell are two Senet historians have have proposed different sets of rules which are in use by the various companies that produce Senet sets today.