ARCE Chicago: The Egyptian Game of Senet, from the New Kingdom to Roman Time: Funerary Destiny, Astronomy, and Medicine

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Presented by: Dr. Marie-Lys Arnette; ERC Locus Ludi, University of Fribourg, Switzerland

  • 12:00 PM CSTIllinois
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Lecture Information: 

The game of senet is one of the most famous board games of Egyptian Antiquity. Attested from the 4th millennium BC, it is characterized by its thirty squares. It was played by 2 players, each one having 5 to 7 playing pieces, whose progress obviously depends on fate—by the throwing of sticks or a pair of knucklebones—but also on strategy. This talk will re-evaluate the role usually attributed to senet in the funerary sphere in the New Kingdom, and will discuss the evolution of the game during the first millennium, when it seems more related to astronomical practices, calculating time, and perhaps, medicine for the eyes.

About Marie-Lys Arnette:

Marie-Lys Arnette studied at the École du Louvre and holds a PhD in Egyptology from the Sorbonne University in Paris. She has taught Egyptology in several universities in France and in Switzerland, has been a Scientific Member of the Institut français d’archéologie orientale (IFAO, Cairo). She is currently part of the ERC Project Locus Ludi (741520), where she studies the late evolution of the senet game. She is also a member of the archaeological missions of Tanis and of Deir el-Medina. Her research focuses broadly on historical anthropology-related topics, texts, iconography and material culture as well beliefs and rituals surrounding birth and death, bodily norms and transgressions, food and religion, gender, and recreational practices.