Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Game Box for Playing Senet and Twenty Squares

Second Intermediate Period–Early New Kingdom
Dynasty 17–Early Dynasty 18
ca. 1635–1458 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Asasif, Courtyard CC 41, Pit 3, Burial E 3, In coffin, MMA excavations, 1915–16
Ivory, copper alloy, modern wood
L. 25 cm (9 13/16 in.); w. 6.7 cm (2 5/8 in.); h. 5 cm (1 15/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1916
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 114
The upper and lower surfaces of this box are each configured for a different board game. The side visible in this photograph has twenty squares for a game that was introduced into Egypt from the Ancient Near East. The other side has thirty squares for the Egyptian game known as Senet. These were both games in which two players raced each other for position, using knuckle bones or throw sticks as dice to determine each play. Eight of the original gaming pieces (16.10.475b-i) and the two nuckle bones (16.10.475j-k) are preserved. The pieces would have been stored in a drawer that could be closed with an ivory bolt.

Only the ivory sections of the box, the ivory bolt, and the copper alloy bands used to hold the bolt in place were preserved when the box was discovered. It has been restored using modern wood.

Two other game boxes may be seen in galleries 117 and 118. A facsimile of a scene in the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens depicts the queen playing senet in the afterlife.
Museum excavations, 1915–16. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds, 1916.

Hayes, William C. 1959. Scepter of Egypt II: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Part II: The Hyksos Period and the New Kingdom (1675-1080 B.C.). Cambridge, Mass.: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 25, fig. 10.

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