This board and pieces date all the way back to near the very beginning of Egypt as a unified country – to the Early Dynastic Period, with the board just generically dated to the 1st & 2nd Dynasties, and the pieces rather more specifically to the reign of Djet in the 1st Dynasty.

They are probably for the game of senet, which is known from throughout Pharaonic Egyptian history and on into the Roman period. Later on, in the New Kingdom and later, it definitely has spiritual connotations and represented the journey of the ka to the afterlife.

Exactly what rules the Egyptians used to play the game, and how those rules changed over time, is unknown. But it is thought to be a race game, where dice determine how many spaces you can move your pieces and the first to get all of them to the last square wins.

Senet Board and Pieces. Board: From Abu Roash. Early Dynastic Period, 1st-2nd Dynasties, c. 2920-2649 BCE. Acc. No.: JE45038 Pieces: From Tomb of Djet, Saqqara. Early Dynastic Period, 1st Dynasty, reign of Djet, c. 2920-2770. Acc. No.: JE98212

Both board and pieces are in the Cairo Museum (as of 2016 when I visited), the board (acc. no. JE35038) was found at Abu Roash and the pieces (JE98212) were in Mastaba S3504 at Saqqara (the tomb of Djet or a high official).

See it on my photo site:

Jigsaw puzzles:

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