In Ancient Egypt, Mehen is both what appears to be a mythological character snake-god and a game. Texts, which do not currently appear to be descriptions of a game, indicate that Mehen was considered to be a snake-god who either coils around Apep to protect Ra from him, during his journey through the night, or instead coils protectively around Ra and his boat, a form in which he is often depicted. Mehen was consequently sometimes merged, in depictions, with Set, who also, originally, was considered to protect Ra, and thus was shown as a serpent-headed man with a spear, standing in Ra's boat.
Mehen Snake Board
Queen Nefertari playing Senet
The precise relationship between character and Mehen game is unknown. It is not known whether the game derives from the mythological character, or the character derives from the game, nor is it known whether the character was considered to be anything other than the game.
It is known that the board depicts a game rather than acts as a religious fetish due to studies of paintings in tombs and game boards and equipment found. Currently, the rules and methods for playing are completely unknown, although a program available here contains a guess at how it may have been played. Also none of the associated objects fit neatly within the segments of the snake.
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