Take the sacred scroll?  The 20-squares 'splash' screen

Note: The images on this homepage and subsequent pages are copyrighted: copyright 1996 P.S. Neeley, all rights reserved.


I have made my boundary, out-southing my forefathers.

I have exceeded what was handed down to me.

I am king, whose speaking is acting;

what happens by my hand is what my heart plans;

one who is aggressive to capture,

swift to success;

who sleeps not with a matter still in his heart;

who takes thought for dependants, and stands by mercy;

who is unmerciful to the enemy who attacks him;

who attacks when attacked,

and is quiet when it is quiet;

who responds to a matter as it happens.

(from the boundary stela of Senwosret III, erected about 1846 BC.)

20-Squares for Windows

Board games were immensely popular game in ancient Egypt -- two in particular: Senet (sometimes called 30-squares) and a game we can only refer to as 'The twenty squares game'. The name of this 2nd game is lost in the past, although earlier in this century, due to a misunderstanding, Egyptologists thought it to be called 'Tjau' (which means 'robbers').

20-Squares is often found on the reverse side of the ancient Senet boards and both games used the same pieces, although they are really quite different games. There is strong evidence that 20-Squares is not originally of Egyptian origin but instead 'invaded' Egypt from Assyria. It is most likely related to the 'Royal game of Ur' and may in fact be the same game (there are similarities in the board and board markings). In any case, 20-Squares became a distinctively Egyptian game and extremely popular in ancient Egypt from the period of around 3000 B.C to 400 A.D.

If 20-Squares is a form of the 'Royal game of Ur', it may pre-date even Senet by 300 or so years. When you play 20-Squares, you are playing what is arguably the very oldest board game -- certainly older than the pyramids themselves by at least 500 years.

The game was played on a board of, naturally, 20 squares; the object being to get one's pieces on the board, then in a 'dog-leg' pattern around and down the central row of squares, and finally off again at the far end. The game requires strategy in the face of whimsical chance -- the 'chance' coming from 'casting sticks', used as the 'dice' in older times, or in latter times, perhaps from 'knuckle bones'. The most common playing pieces were 5 cones shaped pieces pitted against 5 reel shaped pieces (These pieces were called 'ibau' which means 'dancers' in Egyptian).

20-Squares was played in Egypt for more than 3000 years. Now it is here again in the present, re-created through the magic of electrons and phosphorus, for you to play.

Welcome to the game of the ancients -- Pharaohs and commoners alike!

But can you win the sacred scroll of Thoth or will you die buried alive in the sands of Neferkapta's tomb?

Download '20-Squares' now (504 Kb)

Interested in just the rules and history of the game?  Then download just the Windows Help file if you'd like.

Note: This program requires VBRUN300.DLL to exist on your system.

Looking for 'Ancient Egypt' on the Web? Any of the following are great starting points: