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-dl 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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