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In Ancient Egypt, Mehen is both what appears to be a mythological character, and a board game. Mehen simply means (one who is) coiled, and describes both, as they are both a coiled snake. Evidence of the game of Mehen dates from approximately 3000 BC (see [1]) and continues until 2300 BC (during the Middle Kingdom), when it appears to have been prohibited for a currently unknown reason, then does not reappear until 700 BC. Some of the best evidence appears during the Old Kingdom, in a picture of the game within the tomb of Hesy-Ra.

The precise relationship between character and game is unknown. It is not known whether the game derives from the mythological character, or the character derives from the game. Neither is it known whether the character was considered to be anything other than the game.

The game
There is a board depicting the body of a coiled snake, which is divided into rectangular spaces, which are not distinguished or ornamented. The number of segments varies considerably among known boards and therefore seems to have been of little importance to the game. There are also objects associated with the board which may or may not be playing pieces. From archaeological evidence, the game seems to have been played with lion- or lioness-shaped game pieces, in sets of 3 or as many as 6, and a few small spheres (marbles/balls).

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. Also none of the associated objects fit neatly within the segments of the snake.

The character
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.

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