Three Knuckle bone Gaming Pieces

New Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 114

The term "knuckle bone" designates the astragalus, a small bone found within the tarsal joint of hooved animals. It was used as a randomizing device because it has four long sides on which it could land when cast, with the numerical value assigned to the side facing up. Imitations of astragalus bones were also made from wood, clay, ivory, stone, and metal. In Egypt, these are better attested from the 17th Dynasty on, which is likely related to the introduction of the game of twenty squares. Egyptians adopted astragali to play senet, and these are the only casting devices represented in New Kingdom playing scenes.

Three Knuckle bone Gaming Pieces, Bone

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.