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Author Topic: Egyptian New Kingdom soldiers, Ramesses III  (Read 1509 times)

Offline Renaud

  • Bookworm
  • Posts: 85
  • Butterfly hunter
Egyptian New Kingdom soldiers, Ramesses III
« on: April 15, 2022, 11:26:32 AM »
I am an egyptologist (ongoing crowdfunding for my Ph. D. on hieroglyphs here https://www.ulule.com/glyphologie-egyptienne for those interested by a big book in french to prop furnitures ;)) and Wargames Atlantic has asked me if I could provide some information about New Kingdom soldiers. Here are the first results of my research, very precisely for the time of the Sea Peoples invasions. Everything is based on my own pictures and the publications of the temple of Medinet Habu by the Chicago Oriental Institute, available online. Most miniatures available now are unfortunately wrong (the famous cloth striped headgear seen in popular culture is a very early interpretation mistake, and the shields should be curved since at least Tutankhamun's reign). I am not a very talented drawer, so I apologize for the wrong body proportion, but I hope it could help wargamers and designers.


1. Superior officer. He is wearing the traditional white linen gown of the officials, worn by civilians too. The only item that can help him identify as a military man is his stick. He might wear a head band in his black wig, maybe for identification.
Courtiers around the king, aide de camps would often be dressed in the same way, sometimes carrying a bow. A few of them would have their hair shaved, may be an indication that they belong to the team of the daily servants of the king.

2, 3, 5. Native Egyptian infantry men. On the temple of Medinet Habu recording the wars of Ramses III, nearly all of the Egyptian common infantry seems to be wearing an armor made of several layers of white linen bands, the last layer being tied at the front of the body. The shields are not flat, slightly curved to deflect blows, at least since the XVIIIth dynasty, and covered with cow hides. Since Ramses II, a yellow disk (most likely a bronze ornament and reinforcement used as an umbo) is usually added in the top-middle. Most of the soldiers would have no helmet (no folded cloth headgear either, it never existed and comes from an early interpretation error), but greased heavy black natural or wig hair would give them a basic protection. In some occasions, maybe for identification, they might have a head band too. In front of their white linen pleated loincloth, some regiments would all wear a white apron, more or less heart shaped, and other would have only a long sash. Usually, these infantry regiments would carry a spear and a close combat weapon, so their operational tactics would have been similar to the roman legions, throwing the spear just before contact to disrupt the enemy, and then fighting hand to hand.
4. Most used close-combat weapons. The close-combat weapons can vary among a regiment. The first one seems to be restricted to commanding officers. A kind of mace-stick with a very small bronze head seems to be quite prevalent, as the khepresh bronze scimitar and the more traditional axe. The short iron sword would be quite rare among native Egyptian troopers, and could be swung in a scabbard across the shoulder and the chest, or hold in the waist sash for the smaller daggers.

6. Captain of chariot runners. Chariot runners were the infantry supporting the chariot troops. They are uniformed like other soldiers, except that they often carry both a close-combat weapon and a bow, indicating their use as skirmishers. Captains usually have a rope coiled around one shoulder (to tie prisoners? it could also be to indicate their commanding status).

7. Elite charioteer. He is wearing an armor made of scales, and a plain bronze helmet with two ribbons at the top to ease its transportation. The scales of the armor could be entirely bronze, leather, or maybe sometimes also, like samuraiís amors, a mixture of metal and leather, painted by rows (yellow, blue, red or green) to hide the material differences.
8. Shardane warrior, of the Sea People coalition. He has a plain bronze articulated armor, a scaled helmet with horns, a round shield and a short iron sword. His kilt is maybe reinforced by leather, decorated in red, blue and green patches.

9-10. Egyptian marine elite troopers. With a bronze scale helmet and a scale armor, they wear the same kind of kilt. Like common infantry troops, archers have exactly the same uniform as close-combat troops.

Offline gostgost13

  • Schoolboy
  • Posts: 9
Re: Egyptian New Kingdom soldiers, Ramesses III
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2022, 03:55:37 PM »
Thank you,very interesting.

Offline sir_shvantselot

  • Mad Scientist
  • Posts: 684
Re: Egyptian New Kingdom soldiers, Ramesses III
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2022, 04:10:39 PM »
Wow. Looks very accurate and detailed. Thanks.

Offline wds0855

  • Bookworm
  • Posts: 94
Re: Egyptian New Kingdom soldiers, Ramesses III
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2022, 01:53:45 PM »
Great info, thanks for posting!

Offline swiftnick

  • Mastermind
  • Posts: 1275
Re: Egyptian New Kingdom soldiers, Ramesses III
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2022, 01:09:35 PM »
Late to this, but yes looks great!
Don't get me started on those striped head dresses!

Offline folnjir

  • Scientist
  • Posts: 418
Re: Egyptian New Kingdom soldiers, Ramesses III
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2022, 05:20:02 AM »
A very interesting read, thanks for sharing. Hopefully we will see these in miniature form from Wargames Atlantic.

Offline 79thPA

  • Student
  • Posts: 11
Re: Egyptian New Kingdom soldiers, Ramesses III
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2022, 04:55:20 PM »
Thanks for posting.

Offline cadbren

  • Bookworm
  • Posts: 87
Re: Egyptian New Kingdom soldiers, Ramesses III
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2022, 12:29:01 AM »
Would those heart shaped belts just be made from a different material that hung more stiffly than the white/cloth belts? Your drawings indicate that the heart shaped ones are lined like the bit around the waist so maybe they were a type of woven material that kinked more in the front.
So elite marine troops are either foreign or have based their uniforms on the Sea Peoples due to their experience with naval warfare perhaps.

Great to see more depth of understanding is still to be had for these ancient cultures.

Offline Renaud

  • Bookworm
  • Posts: 85
  • Butterfly hunter
Re: Egyptian New Kingdom soldiers, Ramesses III
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2022, 10:55:19 AM »
What we know with certainty is that the heart shaped aprons are always white, like the loincloths. It is therefore most probably a kind of stiffened and reinforced linen.

For marine troops, actually we don't know what is really foreign and in which direction the borrowing was made. It is like looking at the use of shakos, pickelhaube or kepi in the XIXth century. Without precise documentation or datation, which is usually even more lacking for ancient sources, it is sometimes very tentative to assess when and where the first use occurred.

For kilts reinforced with leather nets ("ancestors" of so-called Sea People kilts), we do have Ancient Egyptian examples as early as the Middle Kingdom, and we know it is used to lessen the worning out of the linen garment underneath, especially when seated, so they are particularly usefull for ship rowers.


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