Almost all modern board games passed through the Fertile Crescent of Africa at some point with the oldest known games originating from ancient Kemet. These include Senet the precursor for Chess and India's Chaturanga, But in the case of Senet all the original rules are not known, but it is called the game of passing or transcendence where the players must fight an invisible adversary and pass through the underworld using strategic moves to enter the realm of Osiris! People are seeking to understand the gameplay also for another 3000 year old African game called Mehen, which was played on a board shaped like a coiled snake. Mehen is a protective deity who is depicted as a snake which coils around the sun god Ra (pronounced Ray) during his journey through the night Like Senet, many of the original rules and gameplay of Mehen are unknown, although according to a painting from the Tomb of Hesy-re, located in the great necropolis of Saqqara, there could have been up to six players. The aim of the game was to get as many counters as you can around the board and back again, before they get eaten by lions! The game is most often played with two players. Each player has 4 counters and 1 lion. Earliest evidence for the game comes from the Predynastic Period (Naqada II phase, 3600 - 3200 BC) and it is the leading contender for the accolade of 'oldest board game in the world'.
Each player would have used a set of six spherical black and white or red and white pieces and one lion-shaped piece.
A game called 'The Hyena Game' was found being played on a Mehen-type board in the Sudan in 1921. This is a game for several players. Each player tries to get their 'mother' piece to the centre and back whereupon their 'hyena' piece is released. The Hyena piece then also travels to the center and back but has the additional perk of being able to terrorize and eat the other player's mothers en-route. In lieu of few clues as to how Mehen was played, most modern reconstructions of the game have used the rules of the Hyena Game as their basis.
The Royal Game of Ur Backgammon
According to Historical artifacts. scrolls and Biblical writings, Nimrod son of Kush (Ethiopia and Sudan) is the founder of Sumer ancient Black People of Iraq. It is to these black people that we owe the development and birth of this civilization because it is their knowledge that made Sumer soar. The facts are confirmed through the Sumerian palettes, indeed on these last we discover that the Sumerians called themselves Blacks or the “Black Heads” And were defined as Kushites from the outskirts of the Nile to settle in Asia.
The founders of the first Mesopotamian civilization were black Sumerians. Mesopotamia is the biblical land of Shinar (Sumer). The Sumerians left no doubt as to how they viewed themselves. The Sumerians called themselves sag-gig-ga, people with black heads.
To decipher the Sumerian cuneiform scriptures, Sir Henry Rawlinson used an Ethiopian language: Afan Oromo or Oromiffa (Oromiffa) because he knew that the Sumerians were from Ethiopia. The Sumerians themselves, called their country, “The Civilized land” Other people of the area were known as Akkadians, they inhabited the land just north of Sumer. The Sumerians reached the peak of their civilization around 3,100 BCE, and this lasted until 2,500 BCE, described as the Archaic Sumerian era. During that era, African Kings ruled the Sumer. Their ‘Old or Classical (Black) Civilized Sumerian period,’ followed between 2500 and 2300 BCE, during which their cuneiform characters and letters described African style depicting both private and official incantations and rulership. The Royal Game of Ur was a big deal around 2,500 BC. The game was thought to bring forward messages from supernatural entities and gods and to depict a players’ future. Like Backgammon, The Royal Game of Ur was played like a competitive race. The object was to get your pieces around and off the board before your opponent did so. Ur Nammu had ousted the Indo Europeans known as Gutians (Guti or Quti people, were an ancient nomadic people of the Zagros Mountains, who raided cities using hit and run tactics on the border of modern Iran and Iraq. Ur Nammu expelled them from Sumer and was the founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur in Sumer who initiated the so-called Ur III Period (2047-1750 BCE) also known as the Sumerian Renaissance. He is best known as the king who composed the oldest extant law code in the world, the Code of Ur-Nammu centuries before Hammurabi's code. With his ascension the Royal Game became even more popular and spread to many nations.
Their ‘New Sumerian period,’ introduced the dynasty of Ur and ended in 2000 BCE during this time the game of Backgammon became popular. Known as the Royal Game of Ur, the capital of Sumer at that time where the African rulers lived and popularized the precursor to modern backgammon. Other games of interest, that spread from Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, include early mancala games (those played with small stones or beads) that “could possibly be the genesis of the mancala games that spread throughout Asia,” alas Semitic people from the desert destroyed the Black dynasty and established their Isni, Larsa, and Babylon dynasties. After the rise of the Amorites in Mesopotamia, and the invasion of the Elamites, Sumer ceased to exist.
The Game was undeniably popular and widespread. In fact, four Royal Game of Ur boards were found in King Tut’s tomb! Tutankhamun (sometimes called “King Tut”) was an ancient Kemetan king. He ruled from 1333 BC until his death in 1323 BC. The Kemetans (Egyptians) had one bit of equipment that became incorporated with modern backgammon a mechanical dice box or dice holder. The dice were put into a dice box, shaken up, and thrown out onto the table. Like everyone else, the ancient Kemetans played their game for money and invented this machine to guard against cheaters (always a sign of higher civilization). The Greeks and Romans later adopted this device for their versions of the game.
The game architecture and dice design are based on the Kemetan Mystery knowledge of the solar system phenomena. Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius (floruit 395–423 CE) attributed the planetary theory where the Earth rotates on its axis and the interior planets Mercury and Venus revolve around the Sun which in turn revolves around the Earth, to the ancient Egyptians.
For example: the pieces are in two different colors, half black and half white as a symbol for day and night; the sum of the numbers of the dice on both sides (7) is the number of days of the week; the sum of the pieces is 30 which is the number of the days of the month; and the number of the cells (12) on each side, which symbolizes the number of night and day hours. Also, if you roll and move all the pieces to end the game, the total number of the required points to move all the pieces requires 365 digital moves, which is the number of days of the year.
The engineering consists of a wooden board or a wooden box that can be decorated with fabric paint and/or inlaid with seashells or precious wood pieces such as mahogany or ebony, and a number of ivory, or wooden discs in two different colors - white and black. There are 15 of each piece. Two dice pieces are used to play, and they are six-sided cubes made of ivory, wood, stone and in each of these small cubes there are a number of black dots engraved from 1 to 6, sometimes speckled with gold. Historically people have paid much attention to the manufacture, aesthetics, and materials resulting in the current luxurious wood inlaid with mosaic or seashells and attractive decorative and artistic detail. Old Backgammon games called "Tables" by the Romans are called “King’s table.” The most famous and expensive types of tables are Egyptian, and most coveted antiques are made of white pieces from elephant ivory and black pieces from the horn of rhinos in homage to its Royal African origins.
Backgammon is a dice game, and dice games seem to have developed in every part of the world. It is played with two players. It is a serious and entertaining game and does not need much heavy thinking, like chess, because it depends on luck first and most often, the principle of probabilities.