Revelan la enigmática evolución del 'juego de la muerte' del antiguo Egipto

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La reina egipcia Nefertari jugando al senet. Pintura en su tumba (siglo XIII a. C.).

Un antiguo 'juego de mesa de la muerte' egipcio que se jugaba de manera similar al Ludo moderno (similar al parchís) se usaba para comunicarse con los difuntos hace unos 3.500 años.
El juego, llamado 'senet', se jugaba en todos los niveles de la sociedad egipcia desde su aparición hace 5.000 años hasta que perdió popularidad unos 2.500 años después.

Sin embargo, unos 700 años más tarde de que se jugara por primera vez, el juego adquirió un carácter espiritual, con textos antiguos en los que se insinúa la creencia de que el mismo ofrecía un vínculo con la vida en el más allá.
Ahora, un experto cree que haber encontrado un tablero de 'senet' que responde a este cambio, y es posiblemente una de las primeras veces en el que dicho juego describe el viaje del alma hacia el paraíso.

Toamando como base fragmentos de textos antiguos, los arqueólogos piensan que el 'senet' probablemente era un juego para dos partícipes, disponienddo cada uno de cinco peones que se movían alrededor del tablero, el cual presentaba una cuadrícula de 30 cuadrados dispuestos en tres filas de 10.

Foto: Tablero de juego 'senet' de la tumba de Tutankamón, alrededor del siglo XIV a.C. Hecho de madera chapada con ébano e incrustaciones de marfil.

Los jugadores, muy posiblemente, lanzarían una forma de dados de juego para ver hasta dónde podían mover un peón en cada turno, siendo el ganador aquel que consiguiera mover primero los cinco peones hasta el final. Cada uno de los peones se movería hacia la derecha a lo largo de la fila superior, continuando por la izquierda en la fila central, y luego hacia la derecha por la fila inferior, terminando en el último cuadrado (el número 30) de la esquina inferior derecha de la cuadrícula.
Los penúltimos cuatro cuadrados estaban decorados con símbolos, los cuales probablemente tenían un significado especial: se cree que estos eran quizás el equivalente a 'perder un turno' o 'ir a la cárcel' de los juegos de mesa modernos.
Cuando el juego aparece por primera vez en el registro arqueológico -hace unos cinco milenios- no hay nada que sugiera que servía para algo más que ser una forma de entretenimiento. Pero hace unos 4.300 años, el arte de las tumbas egipcias comenzó a mostrar imágenes que representaban al difunto jugando el 'senet' contra oponentes vivos.

Los expertos piensan que el 'senet' progresó de ser esencialmente una versión antigua del Ludo a algo más cercano a un juego de la güija, es decir, un medio a través del cual los vivos podían comunicarse con los muertos.

De hecho, los textos de los siguientes mil años describen el juego como un reflejo del paso del alma a través de Duat, el reino de los muertos. En la mitología egipcia, el Duat era ámbito donde se juzgaban las almas, donde se 'pesaba el corazón' (y los que superaban esta prueba podían avanzar hacia el paraíso celestial de Aaru, también conocido como el 'Campo de Cañas'.

Ritual del Pesado del Corazón por parte de Anubis, Sortilegio 125 del Papiro de Ani Libro de los Muertos.

Junto con la importancia cambiante del juego, los tableros del 'senet' también experimentaron cambios de diseño que comenzaron hace unos 3.300 años. Por ejemplo, las tres líneas verticales simples que se encuentran en el cuadrado 28 de los primeros tableros del 'senet' comenzaron a ser reemplazadas por jeroglíficos de tres pájaros, una representación del alma, y esta característica persistiría hasta el declive del juego hace unos 2.500 años.

El arqueólogo Walter Crist (izquierda), de la Universidad de Maastricht, en los Países Bajos, cree que un tablero del 'senet', que se halla en las colecciones del Museo Egipcio Rosacruz, en San José, California, posiblemente refleja las primeras etapas del nuevo diseño del juego.

Aunque este tablero de madera no contiene el jeroglífico del alma en el cuadrado 28, el cuadrado 27 ha visto su tradicional marca 'X' reemplazada por el jeroglífico correspondiente al agua. Esto puede representar un lago o un río, en los que se creía que las almas se encontraban en su peligroso viaje a través del Duat.

"Esta reliquia del Museo Egipcio Rosacruz puede ser una de las primeras veces en que este aspecto del viaje hacia el más allá se visualiza en el tablero", dijo el Dr. Crist a Science.

El tablero inusual del juego del Senet en las colecciones del Museo Egipcio Rosacruz, en San José, California.

Él cree que dicho tablero se remonta a alrededor de 3.500 años atrás, y señala que la cuadrícula del mismo tiene un diseño atípico e inverso, en el cual la casilla de inicio está coloca ahora donde anteriormente era el final, y viceversa. Su estilo es exclusivo del período del Imperio Medio, el cual se extiende entre hace unos 4.000 a 3.700 años.

El tablero también ostenta símbolos en los cuadrados 26 y 29, los cuales no son completamente religiosos ni completamente seculares, según afirma el Dr. Crist.

Diferentes diseños del tablero del Senet sus 5.000 años de historia.

La procedencia del tablero del Museo Rosacruz no está clara. Sin embargo, se estima que el artefacto probablemente se comercializó en el mercado de antigüedades en el siglo XIX.
"El cambio de un tablero secular a uno de tipo religioso está en consonancia con la evolución típica de los juegos, con largos períodos de estancamiento y alteraciones repentinas", declaró a Science el arqueólogo Jelmer Eerkens (derecha), de la Universidad de California, en Davis.

"Esto es algo diferente a lo que podemos esperar en otros tipos de tecnologías", agregó, y señaló que los objetos como las cerámicas tienden a evolucionar en sus diseños de forma gradual y constante con el tiempo.
Esto hace que el tablero del Museo Egipcio Rosacruz sea una instantánea en medio de la evolución del juego, lo que es un particularidad especialmente rara.

Los hallazgos completos del estudio fueron publicados en The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology.
Fuente: dailymail.co.uk| 7 de febrero de 2020

Aníbal Clemente

Historia y Arqueología. Divulgando la Historia desde 1998. Bienvenidos a la Cultura.

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