It is believed that gambling was widespread in ancient Egypt. Not for nothing was the scarab considered a good luck charm. There are even papyrus rolls from 3000 – 4000 BC on which instructions and laws for gambling were listed.
The presence of such legislation is usually only required where the people themselves have been active players and therefore there needs to be guidelines to regulate the game. In most cases, the sentences were draconian and could even extend to life imprisonment. Nevertheless, games of chance remained an integral part of everyday culture and have continued to develop over time.
Gambling artifacts in ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt is certainly one of the most popular archaeological destinations. In addition to the great treasures of the pharaohs, archeology has also given us many everyday treasures that give us an insight into the life of the ancient Egyptians. The life of the ancient Egyptians was also characterized by a rich selection of games of chance, as the following examples illustrate.
In addition to ivory dice and games that are reminiscent of today’s checkers, a game called HUBEM-how was extremely popular. The aim of the game was to throw small, plate-like throwing discs in a special order into a kind of drip tray. The clay targets were made of different materials, which offered a lot of variety to the game. Similar games even made it into the modern age and are still played today.
Religion and Gambling in Ancient Egypt
Senet, a game similar to today’s backgammon, was very popular even in the time of the pharaohs. According to legends, the game was invented by Teuta, the deity of love and wisdom. In ancient Egypt, gambling was even part of religious rituals. As part of the rituals, stones, sticks or the like were thrown and then counted. An even number was interpreted as a positive result, while an odd number was interpreted as something negative.
From dice to card games
Even if gambling in ancient Egypt began with dice games, other forms have been established over the centuries. In the Middle Ages, for example, card games became more and more popular. These came from Europe and were welcomed with open arms by the ancient Egyptians. The advent of lotteries in the 15th century was also noticeable in ancient Egypt, although this form of gambling was even more popular in Europe and Asia.
Ancient Egypt in modern pop culture
Although ancient Egypt has long ceased to exist, the legacy lives on in the collective memory. Even in school lessons, names like Cleopatra or Tut Ench Amun are discussed and ensure that at least everyone has heard of the old high culture at least once. The legends from ancient Egypt still exert such a great attraction on us today that hardly anyone can escape. Films like “The Mummy” and “Indiana Jones” or video games like “Assassin’s Creed Origins” make this clear.