House Rules: Cultural Transmission and Egyptian Senet Games

Author(s): Walter Crist

Year: 2016


Egypt has long been the focus of research on ancient board games, as it provides the longest history and greatest variety of games in the ancient world. Despite this, limitations on archaeological interpretation exist because of the unprovenanced nature of the material, as well as a focus on games from tombs of the nobility and pharaohs. Increasingly, evidence from within Egypt in the form of graffiti games on monuments and on ostraca, as well as Egyptian games found in the Levant where Egyptians were active economically, suggest differential understandings of the game across cultural and socio-economic boundaries.

The game appearing most often in the Egypt and the Levant, senet, is perhaps the best-known game of antiquity and provides multiple variations in morphology that suggest differential meanings for the game between elites, non-elites, and foreign players. Examination of the particular features of the games, informed by cultural transmission theory, will help to explain some of the mechanisms by which people played games with one another to cross social boundaries. Since games' liminality allows for interaction across boundaries, examining the ways games change as people adopt them across those boundaries helps to illuminate the kinds of interactions that took place.

Cite this Record

House Rules: Cultural Transmission and Egyptian Senet Games. Walter Crist. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405206)

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min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;