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Two Faience Senet Gaming Pieces, Egypt, 18th Dynasty, ca 1550-1295 BC

one of mushroom-shaped form for the first player, the other  of spindle-shaped form for the second, both modeled in bright blue/green faience, and used in Senet, or "passing", a Ludo-like game where two players each used seven gaming pieces to advance according to the roll of stick-like dice, jump over the other player’s pieces, and finally remove all pieces from the board. The first player to remove all pieces won rebirth into the afterlife. This game was played for over three thousand years in Egypt, and its board and pieces were often included in the tomb.

Background:  Originally part of the Egyptians' earthly life, senet acquired a symbolic meaning during the New Kingdom and was identified with the deceased's perilous journey through the Underworld. For this reason it was included among the burial furnishings both to serve as a pastime and because it of its connection with the afterlife. Senet is mentioned and represented in vignettes of the Book of the Dead. In the Book of the Dead and in tomb murals, the deceased plays senet against an invisible opponent. In this case, victory will assure happiness in the afterlife.

Βibliography: Η. Carter, Das Grab des Tut-ench-Amun, Wiesbaden 1975, pages 220-221.

R.H. Wilkinson, Reading Egyptian art. A hieroglyphic guide to ancient Egyptian painting and sculpture, London 1994, pages 210-211.

J.H. Taylor (ed.), Journey through the afterlife. Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, London 2010, pages 140-141, 158-159.

Condition:  Some heavy mineral deposits to the glaze that does not detract, both pieces are intact and in excellent condition overall.

Dimensions:  Height ranging from: 0.78 inch (2cm) to 0.5 inch (1.27 cm); Width at the base: 0.39 inch ( to 0.69 inch (1.75 cm)

Provenance:   Museum accession number:  22815-3 BE, deaccessioned prior to early 2000's, thereafter a private Georgia collection.


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