Just like children of today, youngsters in Ancient Egypt played with a wide range of toys and games. Some of the games were played by the adults, too.
Below you’ll find a summary of the main games played by Ancient Egyptian children. Some of the games you’ll recognise (because versions of them are still played today), and some will be new to you.
Ancient Egyptian Toys for Young Children
Archaeologists have unearthed many examples of wooden toys designed for young children. These include: toy mice (with tails that move up and down as they’re pulled along), horses on wheels, toy lions, spinning tops, dolls and toy hippos. Some of the workmanship is of a very high-standard, and the toys often look quite similar to the handcrafted wooden toys sold in shops today.
Outdoor Ancient Egyptian Games
Ancient Egyptian children played versions of leapfrog and hopscotch, and they also enjoyed taking part in tug-of-war contests.
Egyptian girls played lots of catch games, possibly with clay balls that rattled as they were thrown. Wall paintings show children leaping in the air or riding on piggy-back as they are catching the balls.
The young men from Ancient Egypt often took part in wrestling bouts, and the boys played with toy hunting weapons.
Ancient Egyptian Board Games
Board games were popular in Ancient Egypt. Senet, played on a board with thirty squares, represented the struggle to reach the kingdom of Osiris. It involved counters of two colours and moves were made in relation to how throwsticks landed. Another board game was Snake (so called because the board looked like a coiled snake). The counters for this game were often engraved with the hieroglyphs of pharaohs’ names.
Hunting in Ancient Egypt
Although animals were hunted by the Ancient Egyptians as a source of food, it would appear that some animals were also hunted for sport. Hippos, often associated with the evil god Seth, were hunted with spears and harpoons from boats. This was a very dangerous sport which sometimes resulted in hunters being killed or seriously wounded.
In the New Kingdom, lions were hunted with bows and arrows from chariots.
Many Ancient Egyptian families kept hunting dogs. These animals had slim, powerful bodies, and were probably the ancestor of the modern day greyhound.
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