Ancient Egyptian Games - Ancient Egypt for Kids

Ancient Egyptian Games

Egyptian knucklebones

The games people played in ancient Egypt were very similar to some games people still play today. They played games with pieces like checkers or mancala or senet.

Egyptian game pieces
Egyptian game pieces

Egyptian kids played games with knucklebones or small stones, like jacks. (Knucklebones are really the ankle bones of sheep). They played games with dice, too.

Egyptian dice (Louvre Museum)

Egyptian kids also had toys to play with. They had clay rattles and little animals and people shaped out of clay. If you could afford them, you could also get wooden toys. Some wooden toys had moving parts, like a hippopotamus with jaws that could open and close. The fanciest dolls were made of cloth, and stuffed with papyrus reeds.

Pressing Grapes Dance
Ancient Egyptian girls circle dance
From the tomb of Mereruka (Old Kingdom, ca. 2200 BC)

Ancient Egyptian boys and girls were outside nearly all the time. They liked to play athletic games. Boys and girls loved to swim in the river; they knew the breast stroke, but it's not clear whether they knew the crawl stroke like their Assyrian neighbors. They also liked to wrestle and box, and dance in circles. The girls called one dance "pressing the grapes". Kids made balls out of leather or woven papyrus and stuffed their balls with straw or (once horses came to Egypt) horsehair, to play ball games like juggling.

To find out more about ancient Egyptian games, check out these books from or from your library:

King Tut's Game Board, by Leona Ellerby (1980). A story for kids.

Sports and Games of Ancient Egypt, by Wolfgang Decker (1992). Out of print.

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