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Game of Hounds and Jackals

Period:
Middle Kingdom
Dynasty:
Dynasty 12
Reign:
reign of Amenemhat IV
Date:
ca. 1814–1805 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes, el-Asasif, Tomb of Reniseneb (CC 25), at bottom of shaft, Carnarvon/Carter 1910
Medium:
Ebony, ivory
Dimensions:
Board: h. 6.3 cm (2 1/2 in); w. 15.2 cm (6 in)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926
Accession Number:
26.7.1287a–k
  • Description

    The board rests on four bulls' legs; one is completely restored and another only partially. There is a drawer with a bolt to store the playing pieces: five pins with hounds' heads and five with jackals' heads. The board is shaped like an axe-blade, and there are 58 holes in the upper surface with an incised palm tree topped by a shen sign in the center. Howard Carter and the Earl of Carnarvon reconstructed the game as follows in their publication of the find (Five Years of Explorations at Thebes, A Record of Work Done 1907-1911, London, Oxford, New York, 1912, p. 58): "Presuming the 'Shen' sign ... to be the goal, we find on either side twenty-nine holes, or including the goal, thirty aside. Among these holes, on either side, two are marked ..nefer, 'good;' and four others are linked together by curved lines.. Assuming that the holes marked 'good' incur a gain, it would appear that the others, connected by lines, incur a loss.. Now the moves themselves could easily have been denoted by the chance cast of knuckle-bones or dice....and if so we have before us a simple, but exciting, game of chance."
    Egyptians likened the intricate voyage through the underworld to a game. This made gaming boards and gaming pieces appropriate objects to deposit in tombs.

  • Provenance

    Excavated by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon, 1910; acquired by Lord Carnarvon in the division of finds. Carnarvon Collection purchased by the Museum from Lady Carnarvon, 1926.

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
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