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The Kingdom of Kush: A proper introduction [Illustrated]

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Hi @LordGood have you downloaded any custom brushes for Krita yet lots of them out there :) BTW they have the same file format as the GIMP and blender brushes so are useful with those apps though most of the speed brushes don't work in GIMP. Do a google with Cazu Brush Collection for Krita for a set that I have found useful.

Enjoy the Choice :)

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The narration in these videos is absolutely magnificent :D 

"King of the Nile",  a narrated campaign in Total War: Rome II, Divide Et Impera (mod), by OfficiallyDevin

(By the way, Medewi = Meroë) 


The way he narrates over the weird high Nile Water glitch in the game at 3:50 is just perfect! 




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@Sundiata It is indeed surprising to see heavy armored African cavalry. This type of cavalry is what we are used to see in images of middle age knights. However, in contrast of those, a good portion of the pictures you posted show that African heavy cavalry has more than one spear. I assume those were used as javelins. My questions are:

  • Where those actually used as javelins?
  • And if they throw their javelins to kill enemies how did they attack or use them during the fight?
  • From what distance did they use those javelins?
  • What did they do after they run out of javelins?

Maybe you know of some text passages which answer some of the questions. Maybe even regarding the ancient Kushites.

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@balduin, So there are two main types of cavalry depicted in those images. Javelin cavalry and lancers. The javelineers usually carry a few spears/javelins which would be thrown at the enemy from a short distance, after which the rider would pull back, and circle round to find another opening to throw another spear. Especially heavy cavalry is usually restricted to nobility and maintaining horses is expensive. Most individuals with horses also owned servants (also depicted in some of the images) who would carry much of the equipment, and when javelins are finished can provide "reloads" during battles. I don't know exactly what distance they were thrown from. Definitely varies in different places and depends on equipment, training and experience. 

I'm not familiar with textual references of African cavalry traditions detailing your questions. Not that they don't exist, I'm just not familiar with them, and I think a lot of the primary references would be in Arabic (the script that was used throughout much of the Sahel and beyond in the medieval period e.g. libraries of Timbuktu) and Ge'ez, ancient Ethiopic script, both of which I don't understand :unsure: There are also descriptions by European travelers which mention some cavalry traditions, like the repetitive but fake massed cavalry charges against visitors to impress them, as an "official welcome" (can be seen in this image)

I should share the following video of Queen Elizabeth's visit to Northern Nigeria in 1956, and the royal durbar in her name. Lots of cavalry (mostly Hausa and Fulani) including the fake massed cavalry charge on the Queen seen towards the end of the video. There are offensive colonial undertones in the narration of the video, but considering it's from 1956, it's not as terrible as one might expect.


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Meroitic Pikeman (v2.0)

Concept art/historical reconstruction

A collaboration between an artist friend and myself. My friend friend provided the original sketch (originally posted here), and I adapted, and coloured the piece. The sketch already served as a basis for the Meroitic pikeman in game, I just felt bad not finishing it, so here it is... A veteran Meroitic Pikeman, wearing a quilted cotton garment and carrying a round shield attached to the shoulder. He's also wearing a headband, as commonly depicted in reliefs, but still missing from our units in game. I might not have mentioned the headbands clearly before :unsure: I also stumbled across a horde of hundreds of leather sandals from Gebel Adda, a northern Kushite site. Many of the sandals were post-Meroitic, but some were also Meroitic period, and they were very varied in design and type. Sandals were probably more common than i first realized. 






The pikeman is wearing a simplified non-royal variation of King Tanyidamani's quilted garment (far left). He has a round shield attached to his left shoulder leaving both hands free, as seen on the reliefs from Jebel Barkal (second from left). He is equipped with a pike, as seen in the relief from Musawwarat (center). A legacy inherited from the New Kingdom Egyptian phalanx on the right, with shields attached to the shoulder, some wearing scale or quilted cotton armor, others wrapped linen corselets.  

Pikes were mentioned by Strabo, and a number of Kushite reliefs differentiate between a shorter (regular) spear and a longer "spear" with a counterweight, the spear being typically held relatively far to the back, similar to the sarissa. Kushites first faced Greeks (and Carians) in the 6th century BC in the form of mercenaries in Psamtik II's army, and must have left a lasting impression. By the time of the Ptolemies, Kushites were being employed by their northern neighbour as mercenaries and were equipped with Hellenistic armaments, which must have also left a lasting impression on Kushite military traditions. They would have already been familiar with phalanx formations since the New Kingdom, so the adoption of the longer pike in the face of Hellenistic enemies was a logical evolution. In addition, some formidable Meroitic period spear tips uncovered from various sites, and depicted (stylised) in reliefs, might well have belonged to these pikes.


A large spear tip from Tombos (more than 30 cm long), along some barbed javelins. Although this spear tip is smaller than the typical tip on a Macedonian sarissa, it's very similar in style (and probably function).

This unit is basically a Meroitic adaptation of New Kingdom/Napatan military heritage (phalanx, shoulder-shields), mixed in with later Hellenistic influence (longer pikes)


Meroitic faience beads, would have once been polished to a shine:



Also, remains of Meroitic period sandals from Gebel Adda:










Edited by Sundiata
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7 minutes ago, balduin said:

Just to get an update. The Kushites will be part of the next 0 A.D. version 23 release?

Yes ;) 

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13 minutes ago, balduin said:

Just to get an update. The Kushites will be part of the next 0 A.D. version 23 release?

Yep. You can already try them out by using the development version.

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3000 year old horse grave discovered in Sudan, by archaeologists from Leiden

So... my mom sent me a link... Turned out to be gold... lol!



The messed up thing about Kushites is that most archaeological sites have only been partially excavated. Many have never been excavated at all. That also leaves a lot of future surprises for us to look forward to.



I hope so.


So a horse grave was very recently excavated in Tombos, in Northern Sudan. Tombos was originally a New Kingdom Egyptian administrative centre in Kush when it was an integrated province of Egypt. At least ten small pyramids were built for Egyptian noblemen. Later, Tombos became an important city/town of Napatan period Kush.

So what's so special about the horse burial? Well, it's one of the most well preserved horses ever excavated in Nubia, and it dates to 949 BC... The oldest horse burial ever found in Kush, predating Piye's horse burials by more than 150 years! This period, c.950 BC was about 100 years after the collapse of the New Kingdom, but more than 100 years before the first attested ruler of the Napatan Dynasty, a period known as the "Nubian Dark Ages". Not much is known about this period. The horse was well cared for, and died at the ripe old age of 12 to 15 years. It was buried underneath the offering chapel of a repurposed pyramid of a New Kingdom nobleman. The bit that was found with it, together with the signs of stress in the ribs and spine suggest it was a chariot puling horse. The bit was made from iron... IRON! This 10th century BC iron bit is the oldest piece of iron ever found in Kush and one of the oldest in (Sub-Saharan) Africa, and may begin to reshape our understanding of the spread of Iron working on the continent. 



That's the actual horse... 



Schematic, showing a faience scarab for the horse.



The bit, one of the oldest pieces of iron ever found in Africa (at least 949 BC)







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40 minutes ago, Rolf Dew said:

So are the Kushites going to added to the Main game or is it a mod?

The Kushites will be included in the main game in the upcoming release, very soon :) 

The first mod to introduce them as a playable faction was Delenda Est, and a second mod, Vox Populi also allows them to be played. You can also check out the latest version of the Kushites in the development version of the vanilla game.

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50 minutes ago, Rolf Dew said:

That's great! It is a rare faction for most games, so should be interesting!

You can download svn (developer version) or for these days candidate to release.

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On 1/25/2018 at 6:53 PM, Sundiata said:



Barracks : pr-ms’yw  (house of soldiers)

Blacksmith : hmw h’y n r3-‘ (weapon smith)

Civil Centre : Pr-nsw (palace, royal residence)

Corral : ihy (stall)

Defense Tower : tsmt ‘3 (great battlement)

Dock : Mryt (harbour)

Farmstead : snwt (granary)

Field : sht (field, countryside)

Fortress : Htm (fortress, stronghold)

House : Pr (house)

Market : Pr-sbt (house of exchange)

Outpost : trtr (counterwork)

Pyramid large : mr ‘3 (great pyramid)

Pyramid small : mr (pyramid)

Sentry Tower : tsmt (battlement)

Storehouse : wd3t (storehouse)

Temple Amun : Pr-‘Imn (house of Amun)

Temple Apedemak: Pr-‘Iprmk (house of Apedemak)

Wall Gate : ’ryt (gate, door)

Wall : sbty (wall, fortress, stronghold)

Wall Tower : s3wt (battlement, wall)

Wonder : Mnw nht (mighty monument)

Hi! I know some Egyptian and can type the diacritics (and also the unicode hieroglyphs, although this forum thinks they're emojis and won't let me add them)  I've done my best to vocalize them so they're kind of pronounceable (if you're going to record them?) Here they are... I can do more later, if you guys want me to:


Barracks : per-mešʿayu  (house of soldiers) 

Blacksmith : emu ḫʿay-n-roa (weapon smith) 

Civil Centre : Per-nesu (palace, royal residence) 

Corral : Iy(stall) 

Defense Tower : esmet ʿo (great battlement) 

Dock : Meriyet (harbour) 

Farmstead : Šenut (granary) 

Field : Seet (field, countryside) 

Fortress : etem (fortress, stronghold) 

House : Per (house) 

Market : Per-Sebet (house of exchange) 

Outpost : Terter (counterwork) 

Pyramid large : Merwer (great pyramid)

Pyramid small : Mer (pyramid) 

Sentry Tower : esmet (battlement)  

Storehouse : Weot (storehouse) 

Temple Amun : Per-Amun (house of Amun) 

Temple Apedemak: Per-Apedemak (house of Apedemak) 

Wall Gate : Ruwiyet (gate, door) 

Wall : Sebty (wall, fortress, stronghold) 

Wall Tower : Sowut (battlement, wall) 

Wonder : Menu Nat (mighty monument) 


Pronunciation Guide

š --  English "sh"

ḥ -- heavy h, same sound as Arabic: ح; https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b2/Voiceless_pharyngeal_fricative.ogg 

ẖ and ḫ -- kh like the ch in Bach (these were two separate sounds earlier in Egyptian history--later were pronounced the same)

ʿ -- pharyngeal sound, Arabic ʿayin, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cd/Voiced_pharyngeal_fricative.ogg -- it's like the heavy h but voiced, if it is too hard to say, it is thought that the sound became a glottal stop, like the sound after uh in uh-oh, after the Egyptian New Kingdom...

' (regular apostrophe) -- glottal stop (before a in 'Amun, also in 'Apedemak)

ṯ -- like English ch, also can be written tj

ḏ -- like the G in giraffe, can also be written dj

EDIT: i've attached the unicode hierolgyphs...it would be really cool to see them implemented in the game (both for the Kushites and the Ptolemies!)


Edited by Djedptahiuefankh
added file
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1 hour ago, Djedptahiuefankh said:

Hi! I know some Egyptian and can type the diacritics (and also the unicode hieroglyphs, although this forum thinks they're emojis and won't let me add them)  I've done my best to vocalize them so they're kind of pronounceable (if you're going to record them?) Here they are... I can do more later, if you guys want me to:

Wow... Thank you sooooo much! That's incredibly useful, and can replace my written attempts for alpha 24... It will also help with recordings a lot! I would love to see the diacritics for the unit list as well. I was planning on doing this in the following months, but because I don't speak ancient Egyptian (and am not too familiar with diacritics), it's a bit of a pain...  


We'd especially need words/phrases and their phonetics for the following list for recordings. Anything from Late Egyptian to the Napatan Dialect is ok. Unless you're one of those 5 people in the world that understands some Meroitic, then that would be pretty cool too :) 

What is it?            
My lord?               
I will walk            
I will go out against  
I will build           
I will work land       
I will gather together 
I will herd            
I will fish            

I will attack!         
I will repair          
I will hunt            
I will heal            
I will march!          
I will retreat!        
Battle cry             
I will garrison

Unless the list has been updated?


@wowgetoffyourcellphone Something like this:

  • Archery Range: Pr Pdt (house of the bow)
  • Cavalry Stable: Ih Ssmt (horse stable)
  • Elephant Stable: Ih Abu (elephants stable) or probably more appropriate Meroitic: Ih Abore
  • Siege Workshop: Pr iwn n ms (house of the movable tower) 
Edited by Sundiata
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No problem!  Glad to help out!--unfortunately I don't know any Meroitic...it's a cool language though, from what I hear.  If you have a ton of time, there's this grammar that people really like: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/the-meroitic-language-and-writing-system/D1534C93DCCA955D82E0594CE92598FC

@Sundiata I'm having trouble figuring out what language you used for the ethnonyms in your unit translations?  Are they (ie: Noba etc...) from the Egyptian, Meroitic, or Greek?  Also it would be really cool to see if the names could appear in hieroglyphs (see my previous attached file).  I'm happy to type them up, if there is support for the hieroglyph section of unicode in the game's fonts.


Off the top of my head, here are those phrases for the recordings:

For the IPA (not sure if you're familiar with it), the apostrophe (') means the syllable after it is stressed, and the colon (:) means the vowel is long (like the difference between the Greek epsilon and eta).  The other symbols can be looked up on wikipedia (and usually have nice sound clips)


Late Egyptian IPA
What is it?             Ya-merak iḫ? ja'merak ix
My lord?                Payi Neb? pa:'ji: neb
I will walk             Tu-i r ḫantaš tu: i: r 'xantaʃ
I will go out against them Tu-i r šem r-šoʿ-san tu: i: r ʃem r 'ʃo:ʕsan
I will build            Tu-i r qode tu: i: r 'qo:de
I will work land [lit. Dig a canal]    Tu-i r garag-meru tu: i: garag'me:ru:
I will gather together  Tu-i r ʿawo tu: i: r ʕa'wo:
I will herd             Tu-i m mini tu: i: m 'mi:ni:
I will fish             Tu-i m weḥʿa-remu tu: i: m weħʕa're:mu:
I will attack!          Tu-i r ʿaḥo tu: i: r ʕa'ħo:
I will repair           Tu-i r ʿayin se tu: i: r ʕa'ji:n se:
I will hunt             Tu-i r boḥas tu: i: r 'bo:ħas
I will heal            [Lit. Live, Prosper, and Be Healthy!] ʿOnḫ, Waḏo, Sonb! ʕo:nx wa'dʲo: 'so:nb̩
I will march!           Tu-i r moša tu: i: r 'mo:ʃa
I will retreat!         Tu-i r poẖer tayi wot tu: i: 'po:xer ta:'ji: wo:t
Battle cry             [Lit. We are like Sakhmet in her rage!] Tu-en mi Saḫmet m-tayes ot! tu: n mi: saxmet m ta:jes o:t
I will garrison Tu-en ẖar peru tu: n xar peru:
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Sadly we do not have support for fonts, It would make some things really easier, as instead of generating images we could just use ttf files.

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@Djedptahiuefankh, once again, thank you! Very helpful stuff! 

8 hours ago, Djedptahiuefankh said:

Mmmm, I should read this...


Both the lexical and the morphological correspondences have left no doubt that the Meroitic language shares an origin with the Nilo-Saharan Group of North Eastern Sudanic. It is also possible to determine with precision its place within this group. In the case of phonetics, it was shown that Meroitic shares with Nubian a particular innovation that sets it apart from the NES languages. Proto-NES *l in initial position becomes /n/. In the lexical domain, it has again a close relation with Nubian since it shares nearly all lexical series that were studied, while Nara shared only half, Taman less than half, and Nyima about two-thirds of the correspondences. Some lexical innovations (for “water” and “slave”) are only present in Meroitic and Nubian. The language of the Meroites is, therefore, placed together with Nubian in a separate branch on the basis of this unity, as is illustrated in the language tree (Figure 6.1).

Proto-NES, although defined on the basis of linguistic principles, seems to have been based on a homogeneous cultural entity. The common vocabulary includes numerous terms that refer to this, such as “shield,” “to build/weave,” “lance,” “house/hut,” and “door.” It is also possible to reconstruct the creator god *Aberdi. All this indicates that the speakers of this proto-language formed a unified community, sharing a continuous geographic space. The proto-lexicon even gives an indication of the original economic system. One finds numerous terms in common for livestock, such as “sheep,” “goat,” “milk,” and, in fewer cases, “cow” and “bull.” The agricultural vocabulary is, however, rather limited. Although there is a common term for “millet,” the original sense seems to be simply “cereal” or “grain,” and there is no common term for “field,” “to irrigate,” “to hoe,” et cetera. It seems, therefore, quite likely that the people of the original community were livestock farmers rather than anything else. It is also not insignificant that the Meroitic and proto-Nubian etymology of the word “slave” goes back to the laborer of the land.

Incredibly interesting... 


8 hours ago, Djedptahiuefankh said:

I'm having trouble figuring out what language you used for the ethnonyms in your unit translations?  Are they (ie: Noba etc...) from the Egyptian, Meroitic, or Greek? 

I mixed in a little Meroitic: our timeframe is 500 BC - 1 BC, so late Napatan and early to mid Meroitic. This is the Meroitic:

  • Bulahau: Blemmye/Beja
  • Noba, from the Meroitic Nob. They are distantly related to the modern day Nuba people, and ancestral to modern Nubians. Frenemies of Kush. Established the Kingdom of Nobatia (Greek Νοβαδἰα), northern Nubia, during/after the collapse of Meroë
  • Abore is the Meroitic term for elephant, as opposed to the Egyptian Abu. 
  • Amnirense qore li kdwe li (Amanirenas, qore and kandake)
  • Qore ‘Irk.‘Imn  (King Arakamani)

I sourced almost the entire list from the Fontes Historiae Nubiorum Volume IV: https://digitalt.uib.no/handle/1956.2/3083#preview , which contains word lists from the "textual sources for the history of the Middle Nile Region between the eighth century BC and the sixth century AD". It's mostly late Egyptian, Napatan and a little Meroitic. Maybe you've noticed that many unit names are composite terms I put together. If you can come up with better/more accurate or appropriate terms, feel free to suggest some. I had difficulties for terms like spearman, pikeman, swordsman. I simply called the pikemen si3wrd (mutilators), for example. Merchant ship became D3y sbt (river-boat of exange), which is a little crude perhaps. Swordsman became knw hps (khopesh soldier), even though they carry a straight short-sword and not a khopesh...


For the battle cry I was thinking something along the lines of 

  • rh.n=k ‘Imn p3 ntr (i)wd n

"For you (are about to) know (what it means that) Amûn is the god who has sent us!"

Or something simpler/shorter, like:

  • H3k : capture, plunder
  • H3t : advance
  • Sm3, sm3n : slaughter, massacre, blood bath, kill, slay
  • Knkn : fight
  • Hd, ph : attack
  • Hdb : kill
  • 3’bt : suppression
  • ‘h3 : battle, war, attack


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Hmm, it would be nice if these guys got their own Workshop/Range/Stable/Elephant Stables models. They use Egyptian models for now, which don't look bad, but they use Hellenistic/Ptolemaic props like shields and such that don't fit the Kushites.

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1 hour ago, aeonios said:

Why are there random '3's in the late egyptian text?

It's supposed to be the phonetic symbol "ɜ", instead of "3", but I wasn't "able" to get the correct symbols of The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), at the time. 

We'll be using @Djedptahiuefankh rendition with proper diacritics for alpha 24.

@wowgetoffyourcellphone & @stanislas69, indeed, unique models would be nice. Though, there should be some superficial similarity between Ptolemaic and Kushite architecture (like with Hellenic civs), and since they teamed up to capture elephants for war, the elephant stable is a good candidate for a shared building model. Proper flat-roofed "Egyptian" style houses as a shared variant for both civs would be cool too. Both differentiated by props and texture of course...


Edited by Sundiata

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