Game of Hounds and Jackals

Game of Hounds and Jackals

The board rests on four bulls’ legs; one is completely restored and another only partially. There is a drawer with a bolt to store the playing pieces: five pins with hounds’ heads and five with jackals’ heads. The board is shaped like an axe-blade, and there are 58 holes in the upper surface with an incised palm tree topped by a shen sign in the center. Howard Carter and the Earl of Carnarvon reconstructed the game as follows in their publication of the find (Five Years of Explorations at Thebes, A Record of Work Done 1907-1911, London, Oxford, New York, 1912, p. 58): “Presuming the ‘Shen’ sign … to be the goal, we find on either side twenty-nine holes, or including the goal, thirty aside. Among these holes, on either side, two are marked ..nefer, ‘good’; and four others are linked together by curved lines. Assuming that the holes marked ‘good’ incur a gain, it would appear that the others, connected by lines, incur a loss. Now the moves themselves could easily have been denoted by the chance cast of knuckle-bones or dice….and if so we have before us a simple, but exciting, game of chance.”

Egyptians likened the intricate voyage through the underworld to a game. This made gaming boards and gaming pieces appropriate objects to deposit in tombs.

Object Details

 Game of Hounds and Jackals

Middle Kingdom

Dynasty 12,  reign of Amenemhat IV

1814–1805 B.C.

Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Medina

Ebony, ivory

Board: H. 6.8 cm (2 11/16 in.); W. 10.1 cm (4 in.); D. 15.6 cm (6 1/8 in.); Average height with pins: 14 cm (5 1/2 in.); Jackal pins: H. 7 cm (2 3/4 in.) to 8.5 cm (3 3/8 in.) Bottom (2012.508): L. 12.9 cm (5 1/16 in); W. 7.4 cm (2 15/16 in); Th. 0.3 cm (1/8 in)
Hound pins: H. 6 cm (2 3/8 in.) to 6.8 cm (2 11/16 in.)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art