Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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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, Asasif, Birabi, pit tomb CC 25, debris, Carnarvon/Carter excavations, 1910
Medium:
Ebony, ivory
Dimensions:
Board: H. 6.8 cm (2 11/16 in.); W. 10.1 cm (4 in.); D. 15.6 cm (6 1/8 in.); Average height with pins: H. 14 cm (5 1/2 in.); Jackal pins: H. 7 cm (2 3/4 in.) to 8.5 cm (3 3/8 in.) Bottom (2012.508): L. 12.9 cm (5 1/16 in); W. 7.4 cm (2 15/16 in); Th. 0.3 cm (1/8 in) Hound pins: H. 6 cm (2 3/8 in.) to 6.8 cm (2 11/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926 (26.7.1287a-k); Gift of Lord Carnarvon, 2012 (2012.508)
Accession Number:
26.7.1287a–k
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 111
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.
Excavated by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon, 1910; acquired by Lord Carnarvon in the division of finds (26.7.1287a–k, 2012.508). Carnarvon Collection purchased by the Museum from Lady Carnarvon, 1926 (26.7.1287a–k). Remained in the Carnarvon family until given to the Museum by the 8th Earl of Carnarvon, 2012 (2012.508)

Glubok, Shirley 1962. The Art of Ancient Egypt. New York: Atheneum, p. 45.

Dunn-Vaturi, Anne-Elizabeth 2015. "Game of Hounds and Jackals." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 249, no. 188.

Quirke, Stephen 2015. "Understanding Death: A Journey between Worlds." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 221.

Grajetzki, Wolfram 2015. "The Pharaoh's Subjects: Court and Provinces." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 123.

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