Documentary Film based on Gibson's book: Qur'anic Geography


The Sacred City from Glasshouse Media on Vimeo.


Rules and Links for the ancient game of Senet

The equipment for Senet is very simple:

There are 10 movers, each quite different from each other. In the traditional Egyptian game there were 5 cone shaped pieces and 5 reel shaped pieces. The Egyptian words for these was 'ibau' which means 'dancers'. The game is a race between the cones and the reels.

The board that these pieces race around has 30 squares and was often referred to on papyri and wall paintings as 'the house of thirty'. The 'dancers' race in an 'S' shaped fashion as at left --- entering in the top, left-most square, and exiting at the bottom, right-most square.

Squares 15, 26 and 27 have special meaning. Land on 15 and your piece is safe from attack. Land on 26 and you get an extra turn. But land on 27 and you 'drown' and must take your piece off the board to start again.

Four 'Casting Sticks' serve as 'dice'. You hold the sticks together (more likely roll the sticks nervously between your hands as you pray to lady luck), and drop them on the ground or table. Casting sticks had one side rounded and one side flat -- as if you had cut a straight section of tree branch down the middle long axis to make two half sticks. Each stick has a dark (dark brown) and a light (white ash) side (the dark side was the curved side, the light side the flat side). The number of whites that end up showing determine the number of squares you can move on the board. Thus you can have 1 through 4 whites allowing you to move 1 to 4 squares, respectively. But, If no whites show ( in other words, all the sticks end-up dark side up) then you get to move 6 squares. The examples below show examples of each of the possibilities:

1 -- You can move one square.
2 -- You can move two squares.
3 -- You can move three squares
4 -- You can move four squares or enter a piece on the board at square 4 (you must throw a 4 or a 6 to enter a piece on the board)
6 -- You can move 6 squares or enter a piece on the board at square 6. You also get an extra turn!

Links to Web Pages about Senet

 The Online Guide to Traditional Games
- History and Useful Information
 Senet, the game that Backgammon was invented from

Ancient Board Games and the Nabataeans

 Petra: City of Board Games  Senet Games
 Ancient Board Games and the Nabataeans  Labyrinths
 Wadi Rumm: Valley of Game Boards  Seega Games