Backgammon and Squares

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Each of the special squares had an effect on the play: Square #26 is the House of Happiness. You can not skip over this house. Each piece must land on it exactly. Any pawn reaching square #27 returned to square 15, the House of Rebirth. Square #28 is the House of Three Truths and can only be left when a three is thrown. Square #29 is the House of Re-Atoum and can only be left when a two is thrown. Square #30 is the last house, and throwing a one from it will get your piece off the board.

In Egypt, archaeologists have found the board for the game of Thau on the flip side of a few Senet boards. Thau was probably more popular in ancient Egypt and Palestine than Senet. Thau boards were found in excavations at Megiddo, Hazor, and at Bet Mirshin, all of which were the ancient land of Canaan/Palestine. A cube resembling a modern die2 was found at Bet Mirshin as well. The boards found at Bet Mirshin and Hazor were rough-cut in stone, but the board found at Megiddo was an elaborate wooden board.

The Thau board consists of 20 squares and five Thau men per player. (See figure 4.) The pieces resemble spools and each end is painted either black or white. Dice or sticks were used to determine chance in this game as in Senet. Thau is mainly a game of chance and has a particularly unique move which allows players to capture their own pieces. The object of the game is to bear off all of the men through square #20. Capturing the opponent’s men facilitates this goal since it leaves the playing field clear for advance. One of the rules which is reminiscent of modern backgammon is the rule that a player must use all of the possible moves that his throw has offered.

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