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 Petra: City of Board Games

At the Second Annual Conference for Nabataean Studies, Dr. Bilal Khrisat of the Hashemite University, presented a paper that introduced the conference to the various board games that are found in ancient Petra. That paper was also responsible for introducing to this fascinating aspect about Petra. In response to Dr. Khrisat's studies we have started to search through Petra and other Nabataean sites to discover these games, and to try and find what they were and how they were played. In order to do this, we first did some basic research into ancient games, so we would be better informed about what we might find. Second, we rounded up several activists and made a sweeping tour of Petra. Instead of looking up at the marvelous monuments, we kept our heads down, and scoured the ground. It was an exciting visit to Petra, because game boards started popping up all over the place. Third, we then visited other Nabataean sites to look for board games there. Fourth, we solicited the help of folk at CanBook's game division. Kenneth Betts, the game logistics expert then worked hard at trying to reconcile the game boards we found with what is known about ancient games, to see if we could figure out how they might have been played. Lastly, the results have been written up in a paper titled: Ancient Board Games and the Nabataeans.

Below are pictures of some of the game board that we discovered.

4 X 14 board
One of the many game boards in Petra. It appears that this board is 4 holes by 14 holes. For size, note the pop bottle cap above the board. This board is easy to locate. It is on the rocks behind the first row of small shops as one walks from the parking lot to the Government Resthouse.
a faded baod

Dr. Bilal Khrisat of the Hashemite University has his degree in Geoarcheology and confirms that these boards are from antiquity, and not recently made by Bedouin shepherds. 

Left: Some of the boards are very worn and hard to make out.

Perhaps a 7 X 7 board


Still behind the shops between the parking lot and Jeff's Book Shop
(Is this a 7x7 Seega board, with the top being weathered away?)
What is this?
OK, did someone start something and not end it?
Behind Jeff's Bookstore This one was located almost directly behind Jeff's Book Shop near the hotel. (4 x 10 plus 3 or 4 on the bottom?)

Behind Jeff's Bookstore


This one was near the entrance to the hotel behind Jeff's Book Shop. (4 X 12)
strange board near the Oblysk Tomb Above, and the next four pictures: Found along the right side of the path, near the Jinn Rocks and Obelisk Tomb (7 x 8+?)

2 boards side by side
4 X 12 beside what might possibly be a Mancala 2 X 8, or is it 3 rows wide? That's the problem with these weathered game boards.
8 X 14 board 8 x 14? or is it two of the very commong 4 x 14 Nabataean boards side by side.
4 X 10 board 4 X 10? (These were all found along the right side of the path as one walks into Petra, before and around the Djinn Blocks)

Near the dam


The game board above is located to the left of the path, just as you cross the dam at the entrance to the siq. There are steps up to it from the front, but it is approachable from the rear, if you pass between the rocks behind the bench. (7x7 Seega Board?)

 Near the Urn Tomb  This board is located on the rocks to the right of the Urn Tomb. It almost overlooks the theater. (4 x 12?)

 Faded board


This faded board can be found on top of the same mountain as Robinson's High Place. After viewing the High Place, continue along the mountain towards the the look out point, that looks down onto the Colonnade Street. Near the lookout point you can find this board.

 4x12 board This 4 X 12 game board can be found on a small rock hill infront of the Monastery. (Deir). It is quite sharp, and is either well preserved, (it is in a sheltered location) or quite recent.
 Petra: City of Board Games  Senet Games
 Ancient Board Games and the Nabataeans  Labyrinths
 Wadi Rumm: Valley of Game Boards  Seega Games footer with menus