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Sundiata

The Kingdom of Kush: A proper introduction [Illustrated]

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7 minutes ago, Stan` said:

 are there blacksmith hammer head reconstructions ? All the images I see seem too... Modern ? 

It is a bit too much modern, a bit too bulky, but this kind of hammerhead were in use during the Roman Imperial Era:

image.png.d711f68126f669687144b5d4a12f5405.png

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1 hour ago, Genava55 said:

It is a bit too much modern, a bit too bulky, but this kind of hammerhead were in use during the Roman Imperial Era.

Yeah this is the only picture I could find. I mean has no one tried to forge them again ?

So from what I see the hammer has an octagonal shape, and a spiky slightly curved end ?

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1 hour ago, Stan` said:

So from what I see the hammer has an octagonal shape, and a spiky slightly curved end ?

I think you are correct.

 

1 hour ago, Stan` said:

Yeah this is the only picture I could find. I mean has no one tried to forge them again ?

There are some reenactment of Roman blacksmith but there use also different hammers. I don't see exactly the same.
 

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On 5/24/2019 at 9:59 AM, Stan` said:

are there blacksmith hammer head reconstructions ? All the images I see seem too... Modern ?

Interesting question! For Kushites specifically, I don't really have an answer. Hammering stones (handheld, rounded boulder type rocks) were used, in Kush as well as in Ancient Egypt. As for proper hammers, I only read a description of a relief depicting a "hammer like object", but I haven't actually seen the relief. Other tools like tongs and chisels were also used. carving mallets are depicted in stone and wood working in Ancient Egypt and variants of this may have been used for smithing?

In a Greco-Roman context, proper hammers, sort of like we know them today were definitely in use:

Spoiler

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Smithing tools from Sardinia

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Egyptian hammering stones to the right:

egypt-metalworkers-granger.jpg.408affa06500677e33b2fa26a7faa99c.jpg

 

Egyptian mallets for stone and wood carving:

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On 5/24/2019 at 9:41 AM, Genava55 said:

This is a common problem in the channel, most of their map are sh*t. When they talked about the skirmish around Geneva between Caesar and the Helvetii, they put the position of the oppidum at the other side of the Rhone and the bridge got misplaced after the conjunction with the Arve river... This is so f*cked up. Moreover, they used the map from Rome 2 TW as a reference for the position of the Gallic tribes... so naive. Furthermore, they are popularizing the myth that the Marian reforms existed as something written in the stone.

Kings and Generals is of mediocre quality for the accuracy but some times in a few topics they give interesting information. This is only an introduction and clearly we should fact check their videos. I think they have an excessive productivity and are too much focused on releasing videos than verifying their sources. I saw they mostly worked with Osprey titles... which are really problematic on some topics.

Yeah, their maps are really rough... They clearly don't consider geographic accuracy a relevant concern for their video's. A missed opportunity for a channel trying to bring lesser known histories to the fore. Their topics are definitely interesting and I enjoy watching their vids, but yeah, they could be better... I love Osprey, but yeah, it's not exactly academic literature in the narrow sense. 

 

On 5/24/2019 at 9:41 AM, Genava55 said:

It seems they have a general problem with geography and for them "Africa" is only below Egypt :lol: I noticed too that they skipped the other part of North Africa.

Yep... 

Here's a very critical look at pre-Islamic North African trade with West Africa, from an archaeological perspective. It's definitely somewhat outdated, and completely ignores the written histories, but it's still interesting: https://journals.openedition.org/afriques/1145

This article is not very detailed, but still interesting: https://www.caitlingreen.org/2017/10/saharan-and-trans-saharan-contacts.html 

Contains a nice map depicting the locations of Roman and Byzantine finds in Saharan and Sub Saharan sites: sahara-small.jpg.d543f8cb6c2032149bde030ecfb34f27.jpg

 

This article is short and brief, but informative: https://www.ancient.eu/article/1199/the-roman-empire-in-west-africa/ (The Nok did NOT establish Djenne though, that's a huge fart on the writers part)

One thing that isn't explored enough is the trade in West African gold, which I believe may have been substantial since at least Carthaginian times. The gold fields were usually kept secret, so you wouldn't expect many detailed written histories on the subject. They really need to get those chemical analysis done ASAP...

Angus McBride's interpretation of Carthaginian traders in the Tichitt region of the South Western Sahara (they are ancestral to the Serer/Bafour/Mande peoples):

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The other thing that is constantly ignored, and this really grinds my gears, is the important role that the Kingdom of Kush played as an intermediary between Ancient, Greek and Roman Egypt and Sub Saharan Africa. They were by far the most powerful, wealthy and advanced civilization that stretched well into Sub-Saharan Africa, and their North-South trade was very strongly established since pre-Dynastic times, and continued on a large scale even after the fall of Meroë, up until the Islamic conquest of North Africa. Whatever volumes were traded across the Western Sahara during Antiquity, I am very confident that they paled in comparison to the volumes and variety of goods traded along the length of the Nile river. Kushite/Upper Nile Valley trade relations with more Western regions along the Sudanic belt, passing through Darfur are almost completely ignored in academia, but an important part of the puzzle in my opinion. In addition, there is a very large corpus of detailed depictions of Sub Saharan Africans in a Hellenic and Hellenistic context, of people with explicit Nilo-Saharan features (I'll make a separate post about this, because it's even more substantial than I originally realized) as well as a large amount of Sub Saharans in Roman art, many with Nilo Saharan features as well. And there is a wealth of not often cited written histories referring to these people as well, but even established researchers tend to get pretty lazy when it comes to Sub Saharan topics. 

Also the Byzantine relations with Christian Nubia (The Kingdoms of Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia) and with Christian Ethiopia (Aksumite empire) were direct and substantial, to say the least. The video did mention Aksum, but still didn't come close to really exposing the nature of the kingdom at the time. Oh well.

I have this gnawing, purely conjectural feeling that Septimius Flaccus expedition to lake Chad may have wrecked some serious havoc in the region and may have even contributed to the terminal decline of the Nok Culture, by disrupting their trade networks to the Lake Chad region. As I said, just conjecture on my part :P, but I feel that the possibilty needs to be explored, as the dates coincide.. 

Edited by Sundiata
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40 minutes ago, fatherbushido said:

I don't know if it has already been posted but now we come full circle!

https://wildfiregames.com/forum/index.php?/topic/11732-other-the-kingdom-of-kush-671-bc-ad-350/&tab=comments#comment-190206

(For those who don't know the author of that post contribute a lot to old design.)

Thanks. It was pointed out a little while back. The topic had been archived or something so it wasn't publicly viewable at first. I stumbled upon it by chance over a year ago (was still able to read it through the profile of Shogun144) and was actually pleasantly surprised and impressed, especially for something written 11 years ago!

Since then, our collective knowledge on Kushites has evolved, so Shogun's piece has become a little outdated. I'll post a quick commentary with some comments and few corrections:

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The Kingdom of Kush forms an important phase in the history of what is now Sudan and parts of northern Ethiopia. While much of Kush’s history is outside 0 AD’s time frame it is important as it leads into the Meroitic Period. Which stands today as among the most important of the pre-Islamic African cultures.

The Assyrian invasion of Egypt proved to be the beginning of Kush’s end. The 25th Dynasty of Kushite kings who ruled over Egypt in what has been considered one of history’s greatest ironies, was brought to an end in the mid 7th Century. Despite a spirited defense by both the Pharaoh Taharqa and his son Tanutamon the Assyrians conquered Egypt in three general invasions, the first in 671, the second in 667, and the last in 663. After 663 the 25th Dynasty retreated to Kush, taking residence at Napata. From this base the Kushites kept Egyptian culture, enshrining it. They looked up to their period of rule in the north with pride. The Egyptians however did not, and under the Saite dynasty which led Egypt to independence from Assyria, they sacked Napata in 590 at the orders of Pharaoh Necho II. The sack reinvigorated Kush which began to pour itself into a massive drive to modernize its army and retake Egypt.

The first battle between the resurgent Neo-Assyrian Empire and Egypt was in 720 BC, with the Egyptian nomarch Tefnakht forming a buffer between the Assyrian invasion of Gaza and Piye's newly conquered Egyptian territories. In the battle of Eltekeh, 701 BC, Taharqa fought the Assyrians in Judea and then again in 673 outside of Ashkelon. 

 

The Iron Age of Nile Africa had begun. The lessons learned from Assyria and the Saitic Egyptians forced Kush to reevaluate itself and its army. Taking advantage of both Kush’sstrategic position on the Red Sea and its natural iron wealth the kingdom turned into one large iron forge. This transformation coincided with developments to the north as the Satic Dynasty fell to the might of Persia in 525. As a trade kingdom Kush felt this change through the arrival of Persian merchants, whose culture began to have an impact on the kingdom. As Egypt fell, Kush became more steadily unique and less of a clone of its northern neighbor, continuing to keep elements of Egyptian culture but with their own uniquely Kushite twist. This change was gradual and the full effects would not be felt for some time. This all came to fruition centuries later after Persia itself fell and was replaced by the Hellenistic successors of Megas Alexandros, Alexander the Great. 

Hellenic culture had probably first reached Kush by traders, and was reinforced by their sudden arrival in the area by force. Around the 270s (exact date unknown given the uncertainties of Kushite history) a revolution occurred in Napata. Previously the priests of Amun Re, the supreme deity of the Egyptian pantheon, would try to control the sitting Pharaoh by pretending to receive a message from the deity saying the ruler’s time on the throne was up. The Pharaoh was then expected to commit suicide and go on to the afterlife. But the sitting Pharaoh of the time, Arakamani, was educated by Hellenic tutors. This led him to reject the ritual and with a sizable body of troops he marched on Napata. Once there he entered the temple of Amun Re and ransacked it, killing the entire priesthood in the process. 

Arakamani, to distance himself from Napata and the old order, then had his pyramid built not at Napata but further south at Meroe in Upper Kush. The city was already famous by this time. Meroe, besides being the central hub of several overland and over water trade routes, lay in the middle of a seasonal rain belt. This combination made Meroe one of the largest and most wealthy cities south of Egypt. It was also defensible, surrounded by rivers on three sides (the Nile, the Atbara, and the Blue Nile), causing several ancient authors to mistakenly believe Meroe to have been an island. Arakamani could not have chosen a better site to make his break with the past. The Meroitic Period had begun.

It was here then, in the Meroitic Period that Kush truly became separate of Egypt. Almost immediately following the move to Meroe and the reign of Arakamani the differences between old Kush and the new period in Meroe became steadily more pronounced. Amun Re was cast aside by the new Kushite priesthood created by Arakamani. In his place they put the native lion-headed deity, Apedemak. Other religious changes were wrought which saw the entire pantheon revamped and only a few Egyptian deities remained. But this was not the only change. The Egyptian language suddenly ceased to be the accepted language of the kingdom early in Meroitic history. In its place a new language, only now being deciphered, was created called (fittingly) Meroitic. This language was a mixture of Egyptian ‘cursive’ and a strange alphabetic script of unknown origins. Although we can identity the derivatives of Meroitic by common words shared between them. By far the most momentous changes were in the nobility and the royal family itself.

Amun was never cast aside. Even during the height of the Meroitic Period, Amun continued to reign as the unchallenged supreme deity, evidenced by the continued construction of massive Amun temples at Meroë, Dangeil, El Hassa, Naqa and probably more. These Amun temples dwarfed the Apedemak temples, and Meroitic rulers still routinely assumed the name of Amun, including Arakamani himself, as well as his successor Amanislo. "Amani" is simply the Kushite name for Amun... See names like Amanirenas, Amanitore, Amanikhatashan, Amanishakheto, Amanikharaqerem, Natakamani, Tanyidamani, etc... All Meroitic period rulers. 

 

In this case the trappings of Egyptian culture were almost entirely thrown off. After the move to Meroe the upper classes gradually stopped using the old traditions borrowed from Egypt. Everything from social norms to names changed to something different. Modern historians believed the nobility may have attempted to revert to the practices of early Kush before contact with Egypt, mixed in with bits and pieces of other cultures (Egyptian, Persian, and Hellenic). One well attested example was that Meroitic nobility scarred themselves, an old Kushite practice. Accompanying these changes was the sudden newfound equality of women. Meroitic artwork shows women often equal to men standing alongside them on even terms, sometimes helping their husbands smite his foes. Occasionally the woman did the smiting.

The trappings of Egyptian culture were never thrown off. They rather evolved, and were infused with archaic as well as modern influences. The differences between the Napatan and Meroitic period were real, but not as extreme as once thought. Pharaonic culture essentially continued.

 

One of the greatest changes however was that in Meroe the Pharaoh no longer reined supreme. His power was held in check by a figure known as the Kandake, corrupted into English through Latin as Candace. The Kandake was one of the most important women in the royal court and usually either the Pharaoh’s wife or some other close female relative. The office was neither hereditary or for life, since they were elected from a pool of royal candidates by the council of priests. This was similar to the practice used for the succession of the Pharaoh, who was also elected from a pool of eligible royal candidates. But his office was for life. The Kandake technically had to share power with another woman, usually an older relatived called the Qore. The Qore was the supreme authority in the household, but real power was held by the Kandake. On occasion when the Pharaoh was too young to rule or unfit the Kandake would be appointed by the priests to rule in his place.

Kandake should be seen as a "Queen Mother", (not necessarily the king's mother or his wife). Qore is not a female title. It's explicitly male, and translates into King. The confusion arises because Queen Amanirenas assumed the title of both Qore and Kandake. She also called herself "son of Amun", clearly in order to solidify her authority as sole ruler. 

 

Other changes that were not so pronounced will also be examined. In Meroitic Kush the farmers were no longer the center of the economy and were replaced by cattle herders. The cow assumed a place of importance and temples dedicated to Apedemak often were decorated with scenes of cattle, usually the breeding and caring of the animals. The ceramics, which are always important to archaeologists, also changed from the bright red of the earlier periods to a polished black for the Meroitic. Iron production however was one thing that did not change and the constant production of the metal is one of the enduring legacies of Meroe, and the catalyst for its eventual downfall.

Ancient Kush was a large amalgamation of peoples, some of them exclusively sedentary farmers concentrated on the Nile banks, others semi-nomadic and nomadic cattle herders in the hinterlands. Both groups were vital to the survival of Kush since the days of the Kerma Period. One can not be argued to be more important than the other. Polished black pottery had likewise been produced since the Kerma period, and Meroitic pottery was extremely diverse, most known for their exquisite eggshell wares. 

 

The Kingdom of Meroe began to achieve its greatest prosperity in the last century before Christ. With Meroe itself leading the way the cities of Kush had achieved a splendid prosperity thanks to the wealth of the Red Sea trade to and from India. As well as the kingdom’s natural wealth, thanks to its rich supply of iron and gold. Ivory from elephants, a sacred animal in Meroitic Kush, was also valuable as was Ostrich feathers. All of these were in high demand to the north in the rump Ptolemaic state and more importantly their Roman overlords. This highlighted the growing threat of Rome, which successive Meroitic Pharaohs became increasingly worried. One reason was that Ptolemaic Egypt and Meroitic Kush had a specific agreement on a series of temples that both kingdoms shared by religion that sat along their borders (between Upper Egypt and Lower Kush). As long as neither power attempted to take over the area they remained at peace, even though the intermittent border wars continued in spite of it. But it was unknown if the Romanswould honor the agreement. This led to tensions all along the border zone, called the Dodekaschoenos. 

In 24 BC the most notable event in the history of Meroe occurred, a military confrontation with Rome. By this time Ptolemaic Egypt had been annexed by the newborn Roman Empire, and the Kingdom of Meroe, who had had limited contact with the Romans, was eager to press the limits to which they could go. In 24, while Augustus Caesar recalled Aelius Gallus after his failed invasion into Arabia, the Kandake of Meroe, Amanirenas, ordered an invasion of the north. This was in part motivated by what Amanirenas may have seen as a sacred duty. As the High Priestess of Isis, recognized by both Kushite and Egyptian alike, she may have saw it as best to annex the temples to Meroe for protection. Meroitic troops annexed the Dodekaschoenos and raided as far north as Aswan. Rome reacted quickly by sending Caius Petronius, who launched a counter invasion. But Amanirenas ordered her troops to fall back and allow the Romans to take Napata. Petronius enslaved the population and burned the town, famously remarking that Kush was not worth the effort to conquer. As the Romans went back north the Kandake launched a counterattack, surprising the Romans with their superior archery and elephant corps. Petronius was victorious in the end and Amanirenas surrendered. Negotiations with Augustus resulted in a peace treaty to return to the status quo, but markedly with the reestablishment of the Dodekaschoenos zone between Egypt and Kush, but with a Roman garrison close by. Future generations of Roman emperors were cautioned by Augustusto contain Meroe, but not to conquer it, out of respect.

Kushite agression against the Romans seems to have been a direct result of Roman attempts to tax resident Kushites in Lower Nubia and Upper Egypt, which had been a taboo for a long time. The "Ethiopians" of Lower Nubia and perhaps even parts of Upper Egypt were under Kushite authority, not Egyptian, and any militarization of the area could lead to war, which in this case, it did. The Roman invasion of Arabia coincided with the Kushite invasion of Upper Egypt. This wasn't by chance. The Roman presence in Egypt was reduced due to the Arab campaign, making them look weak to the Kushites, who quickly capitalized on their absence. Amanirenas wasn't the one to lead the attack though. The Kushites were led into Egypt by King Teriteqas, who died early in the war. Amanirenas didn't assume full control until after Prince Akinidad was also killed and Napata was sacked, leaving a serious power vacuum that the Queen Mother exploited to assume full "king"ship. Petronius definitely wasn't victorious though. His sack of Napata (which is even disputed), didn't seem to achieve anything other than anger the Kushites even further, and the southern forces of Meroë don't even seem to have been engaged until this stage of the war. The Roman forces moving all the way back to the northern border without capturing Meroë should be seen as a retreat, especially seen as they were followed by the largest Kushite force assembled yet. Their position at Karanog was laid under siege and there doesn't seem to have been a way to relieve them without sending in extra legions, in a time when the Roman Empire was already overstretched. The Romans didn't have a choice than to negotiate peace, or risk loosing at least 1 legion and part of the valuable grain produce from Egypt. It's obvious, considering the Romans relinquished all claims over Kushite territory and people (giving up entire cities), and by their own admission, gave in to all of Amanirenas' demands... Amanirenas was absolutely victorious, and the immediate rise of Kushite wealth and construction boom illustrates this quite well. Don't get me wrong, if the Romans would have sent in a few more legions they would have eventually crushed Kush. But they were not in a position to risk yet another protracted war, so close to their most important sources of grain, and peaceful trade would prove to be mutually beneficial anyway. 

 

These events were followed by a Meroitic golden age. The period from AD 12 to 20 is often referred to as the height of Meroitic Kush and roughly corresponds to the reign of Pharaoh Natakamani and his wife, the Kandake Amanitore. This royal couple is the best known monarchs in Meroitic history, partly because they were its greatest builders. Together Natakamani and Amanitore either restored and built over from scratch a majority of the surviving temples and monuments dating from this period in modern Sudan. Natakamani is also known to historians as the architect of a new smaller type pyramid, which he urged future generations to use. Confusingly however is that from the artwork found at the temple of Apedemak at modern Naqa it appears the two rulers led the kingdom to war and lost two of their sons to this conflict. But no record of any conflict exists elsewhere. It any case the period of their rule is still considered one of the best periods in Meroitic history.

Previous generations of historians had assumed that Kush was a peaceful country without much internal conflict. This is absolutely not the case, and from the many royal stele's and the abundance of depictions of war captives during all periods of Kushite history, it's clear that Kush was in a near perpetual state of warfare with it's periphery. Weaker rulers might not have controlled much outside of a few important cities on the Nile, while the most powerful rulers conquered mercilessly in all directions, reaching Sudan's Northern and Southern borders. 

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As one last note on this phase of history we know today that Kandake Amanitore was mentioned in the Christian Bible. In the Book of Acts Philip the Evangelist converts to the still small Christian faith an ‘Ethiopian Eunuch’ who then takes his faith back to his queen, Candace of Ethiopia. The New Testament of the Bible was originally written in Koine Greek, which referred to Kush as Ethiopia. This was repeated in Roman records, as can be seen in the accounts of Amanirenas’ war with Augustus. What is today called Ethiopiawas called Aksum, after the primary city and kingdom of the region during that time. 

However the prosperity and glory of Meroitic Kush that was overseen by Natakamani would not outlast him. When the Pharaoh died in AD 20 his surviving son, who may have been his eldest to start with, succeeded him. But Arikaharor was not his father and the building spree that had marked Natakamani’s reign ground to a halt. This traditionally marks what historians refer to as the long decline of the Meroitic kingdom, for lack of any better evidence. Modern archeology points the pursuit of iron may have been the catalyst. As the number of iron forges increased to keep up with the demand for Kushite iron the harvesting of so much wood to feed the furnaces may have turned the lush lands around Meroe into desert. Without fertile lands agriculture and cattle herding suffered and forced them to go further and further out to find lands to grow food and feed the cows.

There was a second construction boom during the second and third centuries, prior to the Roman crisis of the third century, which seems to have badly affected Kush as well. 

 

The death of Nero and the end of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty had effect even on Meroe. Nero had made it clear during his reign that he had designs on the southern kingdom and regardless of Augustus’ instruction intended carry it out. But at the last moment he canceled his plans, content with the information gathered for him by the military. This did not make him well liked by Kandake Amanikhatashan, who started to rule in 62. To spite Nero’s memory she backed Vespasian to become Roman emperor after he was proclaimed by his troops in July, 69. After the Senate confirmed Vespasian as emperor and he sent his son Titus to deal with the Great Jewish Revolt the Kandake took the opportunity to send a sizable cavalry force to Jerusalem to aid Titus. While the final contribution of the Meroitic squadron was slight it did boost relations and the new Flavian dynasty promised to uphold the old treaty.

I would like to know more about Amanikhatashan. I'm impressed by the mention of this event, as I haven't been able to find much on the subject myself. 

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In the 2nd Century AD a sudden change took place in Kush with the rise of the nomads. These nomads were divided into two groups: The Blemmyes and the Noba. Both group paid homage to the Pharaoh at Meroe and the Blemmyes especially were valued for their fighting abilities. In the late 1st Century AD the Meroitic court moved the Blemmyes as a people and settled them in Lower Kush along the border with Rome. But by the 2nd Century the Blemmyes had begun to display an increasing degree of independence from Meroe, even to the degree of having their own king. This in turn led to the Blemmyes becoming more and more settled and urban. Even as this happened however the introduction into the region of the camel allowed the Blemmyes to become much more potent militarily. While nothing is known for certain it is believed that thanks to the camel the Blemmyes transformed into a real threat to both Meroe and Rome. Both states were raided unmercifully even as the king of the Blemmyes still paid tribute to Meroe. This resulted in the tangled situation in which Meroe still commanded the loyalty of some of the Blemmyes, but most of them had turned into raiders.

The 3rd Century AD accelerated the decline of Meroitic Kush. With the Blemmyes’ newfound power now rampaging across both Upper Egypt and all Kush at will even the formidable might of Rome was shaken. With the continuing decline of arable land in the kingdom the situation grew worse, even though evidence suggests the authorities managed to avoid starvation and kept a reasonable amount of stability. However the wealthy Red Sea trade that had practically sustained the Meroitic kingdom began to shift during this time. Instead of flowing to Meroe, the routes now flowed to Aksum. The kingdom of Aksum, the forerunner of modern Ethiopia, had been founded in the late 1st Century BC. With the changing routes from India the Aksumite kingdom could now take full advantage of the great wealth offered by the trade. To protect its interests Aksumexpanded militarily seizing control of Meroe’s Red Sea coast, thus severing it from maritime routes. Other Aksumite military adventures were aimed at Upper Kush, trying to sever the overland routes. When this was defeated they instead bypassed Meroitic Kush, creating a pricing war with Meroe which the latter ultimately lost. In the closing years of the century there appeared a moment of renewed hope as problems in the Roman Empire, the so called Crises of the Third Century, had lead the empire to all but abandon the Dodekaschoenos.

But this hope proved illusory. Diocletian, who had brought the Crises to an end and created the Tetrarchy, realized that with the threat of the Blemmyes that occupying the Dodekaschoenos was no longer viable. He decided to abandon the area, but rather then allow it to be occupied by Meroe, Diocletian invited the Noba to occupy the area. Still living on the western bank of the Nile, the more ‘civilized’ Noba saw their chance to break with Meroitic Kush and took it. Crossing the river in force the Noba attacked both Meroeand the Blemmyes before making it into the Dodekaschoenos, even as the Romans withdrew further back into Egypt, though they maintained control of the primary temple at Philae. With the settling of the Noba in the Dodekaschoenos the kingdom of Meroe was deprived of another major ally, which turned against them. The Noba quickly formed their own state, called Nobatia which combined elements of both Hellenic and Meroitic cultures, and went to war with the Blemmyes.

The 4th Century was the final one for Kush. By this point the end of Meroe was all but finished. The building of monuments and temples and even pyramids (small as the Kushitemodel was) had completely stopped. The kingdom no longer had the ability to support these projects, much less the state itself. With most of the former kingdom either annexed to the Blemmye tribes and Nobatia to the north and Aksum to the south Meroe was in pitiful condition. In the early years of the century the Aksumite King Aphilasconquered Meroe but left the city standing, instead demanding they pay homage to Aksum. Pharaoh Yesbokheamani agreed, and the kingdom had for all intents and purposes ceased to exist. However as a vassal state Meroe continued to function as the cultural predecessor of a new people just beginning to form. The Ballana culture or X-Group as it is called first appeared in the 4th Century and appears to have originated from intermarriage between the Noba and the Kushites. This new culture borrowed much from Kush and was also distinctly unique in that it took in other influences as well. The Ballana are considered the ancestors of the Nubian peoples. Strife with Aksum continued to plague Upper Kush for many years until finally in 350 AD the Aksumite King Ezana, the first Christian monarch, led his troops north and demolished Meroe. The destruction of the city marked the end of Kush as a kingdom, even though it continued to persist culturally and linguistically for at least another century.

First time I heard about King Aphilas... Again, I'm impressed, though I'd like to know more. 

In conclusion the kingdom of Kush left a major imprint on Africa. Because of a close proximity to the giants of Egypt and early Ethiopia the Kushite state is often overlooked in history. But its influence on the development of the region is undeniable, though still misunderstood due to both the Meroitic script itself and racial nationalism.

 

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A pretty impressive 3D flyover of the digitally reconstructed excavated parts of the temple complex at Jebel Barkal:

 

The description says 7th century BC but there seem to be a number structures in this reconstruction that actually date to the 1st century BC.

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An interesting presentation on the art and archaeology of Nubia, with Denise Doxey and Lawrence Berman of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

 

 

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A few documentaries on ancient Kush

 

Ancient Nubia, Egypt’s Rival in Africa (1992) This short docu looks and feels surprisingly outdated, but offers a pretty decent rundown of Nubian history. *Meroitic is developed around 300 BC, not 100 BC. 

 

 

Tempelstadt Naga - Die verschüttete Hochkultur A short German documentary on Kushite history, with a special focus on the excavations at the royal city of Naqa. 

 

 

Las Reinas Negras de Nubia  @Lion.Kanzen, this one's for you! De nada :) :P A 1 hour documentary on Kushite history. *For some reason they mix up Amanishakheto with Amanirenas. I think the consensus on the dates of those rulers has changed over the past 10 years, which resulted in older documentaries and writings mentioning the wrong queen in relation to the Kushite-Roman war. 

 

Edited by Sundiata

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50 minutes ago, Sundiata said:

A few documentaries on ancient Kush

 

Ancient Nubia, Egypt’s Rival in Africa (1992) This short docu looks and feels surprisingly outdated, but offers a pretty decent rundown of Nubian history. *Meroitic is developed around 300 BC, not 100 BC. 

 

 

Tempelstadt Naga - Die verschüttete Hochkultur A short German documentary on Kushite history, with a special focus on the excavations at the royal city of Naqa. 

 

 

Las Reinas Negras de Nubia  @Lion.Kanzen, this one's for you! De nada :) :P A 1 hour documentary on Kushite history. *For some reason they mix up Amanishakheto with Amanirenas. I think the consensus on the dates of those rulers has changed over the past 10 years, which resulted in older documentaries and writings mentioning the wrong queen in relation to the Kushite-Roman war. 

 

Looks very old documentary maybe 1998-2003

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@Sundiata, the Kushites have pikemen in 0 A.D. Do you happen to know of any supporting evidence? It makes me wonder about the extent of Macedonian-style warfare.

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9 minutes ago, Nescio said:

@Sundiata, the Kushites have pikemen in 0 A.D. Do you happen to know of any supporting evidence? It makes me wonder about the extent of Macedonian-style warfare.

I am not Sundiata, but I do remember reading a passage about the Kushites using a mixed formation of troops, each with his own weapon, including swords, spears, and pikes. 

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58 minutes ago, Lion.Kanzen said:

Looks very old documentary maybe 1998-2003

Don't quote the whole thing bruh, just tag me or something 1075353845_Emojihaha.jpg.457d6c93b805ed87fdc769f9f111cdbc.jpg

But yes, 2 of those docu's are pretty old...

34 minutes ago, Nescio said:

@Sundiata, the Kushites have pikemen in 0 A.D. Do you happen to know of any supporting evidence? It makes me wonder about the extent of Macedonian-style warfare.

Well, there's the English translation of Strabo's Geography XVII, section 54, which is most often quoted:

Quote

They soon fled, being badly commanded, and badly armed; for they carried large shields made of raw hides, and hatchets for offensive weapons; some, however, had pikes, and others swords. 

I can't make much sense of the original Greek text... But you can, so here it is. 

 

I prefer to focus on the pictorial stuff, this graffiti from Musawwarat es Sufra in particular:

771872414_kingdomofkushkushiteGraffitiofmeroiticpikemanatmusawwaratalsufra.jpg.c7aec29c63ad2db879d2a2b8881ccde6.jpg

Shorter stylized spears are also depicted in some royal scenes with counterweights, reminiscent of sarissas.

 

And that Kushites differentiate between a shorter spear and a longer one. Shorter one is held in the middle, but the longer one is held from the back. I doubt we can learn much from the way stances are portrayed in Kushite art (Kushite artists followed convention more than reality when it came to some things like stances), but we can still see two different types of spears used in a different way. (These are probably not traditional sarissa wielding units in the Macedonian style, but long spears used in a type of Ancient Egyptian phalanx formation, which was probably further developed by repeated military conflicts with the Ptolemies). 

2134071940_kingdomofkushkushitetempleM250meroebattlereliefspikespearswordB.jpg.3451681479ad40d2af5cd9c07021dcac.jpg

1843433775_Kushitepikemensmallroundshield.thumb.jpg.59fe29eeb7e3bfd7e3152ae226d756fc.jpg863326630_kingdomofkushkushitetempleM250meroebattlereliefsovalshieldspearpike.thumb.jpg.f2393719bb882e54d2e3e2164a9e3900.jpg 

I just added the the lower left image to illustrate how they sometimes fixed a small round shield to their upper arm/shoulder, to free up both arms, which is very handy for wielding long spears in formation (something the Egyptians also did sometimes), even though here, the ancient artist depicted those warriors with short spears. 

 

And this c. 30 cm long spearhead from Tombos is also rather reminiscent of the Macedonian sarissa, albeit somewhat smaller, it's still longer than most standard Kushite spearheads (except for the really long ones from El Hobagi, but that's yet another type)

2138142660_KingdomofKushKushiteironweaponsspearheadfromTumbosB.thumb.jpg.dd20354b7a555aa7778e921c3463c6c9.jpg

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Thank you for your quick and elaborate reply!

51 minutes ago, Sundiata said:

I can't make much sense of the original Greek text... But you can, so here it is. 

Thanks! The relevant part is:

Quote

μεγάλους γὰρ εἶχον θυρεούς, καὶ τούτους ὠμοβοΐνους, ἀμυντήρια δὲ πελέκεις, οἱ δὲ κοντούς, οἱ δὲ καὶ ξίφη.

The word κοντὀς means pole—Homer uses it once (Odyssee X.487), for a tool to push off a ship—and later authors occassionally use it for a weapon (cf. English “pole-arm”), but it does not necessarily mean a pike—what it says here is “some had spears, some had swords” in a generic sense.

51 minutes ago, Sundiata said:

Shorter stylized spears are also depicted in some royal scenes with counterweights, reminiscent of sarissas.

Counterweights do not imply pikes; the ordinary Greek spear (δόρυ) had one as well, as did the shorter Persian spears. Short, thin, top-heavy means useful for throwing (javelin) and short, thick, counterweight means useful for thrusting, but many spears could both be thrown and thrust, and it's not unusual to be equipped with multiple different spears. (Pikes tend to be long (4 to 6 m) but narrow, to save weight.)

51 minutes ago, Sundiata said:

And this c. 30 cm long spearhead from Tombos is also rather reminiscent of the Macedonian sarissa, albeit somewhat smaller, it's still longer than most standard Kushite spearheads (except for the really long ones from El Hobagi, but that's yet another type)

Spears come in many shapes and sizes; short staffs with long blades and long sticks with short heads exist; wood tends to decay faster than iron.

Fundamentally the difference is that a pike requires two hands to handle; a spear could be used both one- and two-handed, near-front, mid-shaft, or back; etc. Also, pikes imply syntagma (cf. Early Modern Swiss).

Anyway, I got the answer I wanted, and can now remove Kushite pikemen from my mod with a clear conscience. :)

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3 minutes ago, Nescio said:

Anyway, I got the answer I wanted, and can now remove Kushite pikemen from my mod with a clear conscience. :)

Euhm...? 

So you don't consider the graffiti from Musawwarat a pike? 

Forgive me for going straight to wikipedia, but the term kontos is used to describe a two handed +4 meter long cavalry lance in an Iranian context and a pike in a Germanic context... 

Quote

 Its length was probably the origin of its name, as the word kontos could also mean "oar" or "barge-pole" in Greek

As you indicated yourself. 

I think there is a good reason why the term is translated as pike. I think you're confusing the term "sarissa" with the word "pike". 

 

17 minutes ago, Nescio said:

“pole-arm”

 In the English language, when people use the word "pole-arm", they're usually referring to a two handed weapon. 

As I've always indicated, it's probably not a sarissa, but a long, two handed thrusting spear used in a phalanx formation, aka, a pike. I don't understand why you'd want to remove that unit... 

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5 hours ago, Sundiata said:

 As I've always indicated, it's probably not a sarissa, but a long, two handed thrusting spear used in a phalanx formation, aka, a pike. I don't understand why you'd want to remove that unit... 

Don't worry. They'll stay in Delenda Est. That's all that matters! ;)

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To clarify, I'm not denying the Kushites had long spears; or that they could hold them with two hands; and maybe they did have true pikes indeed. (It's hard to prove something didn't exist.)

Likewise, Carthaginians, Greek, Romans, and others new how to make pikes and occassionally used them on ships; but that doesn't mean they should have pikemen in game.

11 hours ago, Sundiata said:

Forgive me for going straight to wikipedia, but the term kontos is used to describe a two handed +4 meter long cavalry lance in an Iranian context and a pike in a Germanic context... 

Quote

 Its length was probably the origin of its name, as the word kontos could also mean "oar" or "barge-pole" in Greek

As you indicated yourself. 

I think there is a good reason why the term is translated as pike. I think you're confusing the term "sarissa" with the word "pike". 

Lance and pike both belong to the spear family, but they're different weapons nonetheless. And yes, κοντός is an appropiate term to describe a pike, but that doesn't mean it must automatically mean a pike; as you know, the meaning of words depends on the context; the same issue with e.g. λόγχη, which could mean lance, spear, javelin, etc., or ξίφος, which means specifically a short, double-edged, stabbing sword, but could also be used in a generic sense for any blade (as in that sentence from Strabo quoted earlier; besides, pike doesn't square with θυρεός).

11 hours ago, Sundiata said:

I don't understand why you'd want to remove that unit...

A fair question. We can all care about realism yet make different choices. My mod focuses on the 3rd C BC; “might have” is not always good enough for me. For that reason I've also removed the maiden guard (the Mauryas did indeed have female palace guard—presumably similar to how other dynasties employed eunuchs—but it's unlikely they're employed on the battlefield) and the Ptolemaic camel archer (Nabateans did have camel archers, but camels aren't mentioned in the major battles involving the Ptolemies).

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20 minutes ago, Nescio said:

Ptolemaic camel archer (Nabateans did have camel archers, but camels aren't mentioned in the major battles involving the Ptolemies).

I was tempted to move these to the merc camp, but the Ptolemies already have a ton of mercs in DE. lol

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5 hours ago, Nescio said:

A fair question. We can all care about realism yet make different choices. My mod focuses on the 3rd C BC; “might have” is not always good enough for me. For that reason I've also removed the maiden guard (the Mauryas did indeed have female palace guard—presumably similar to how other dynasties employed eunuchs—but it's unlikely they're employed on the battlefield) and the Ptolemaic camel archer (Nabateans did have camel archers, but camels aren't mentioned in the major battles involving the Ptolemies).

I understand, and at the end of the day, it's your mod, so feel free. I also wish to focus on realism, and depict civilization as they most probably looked, not to create a sterile culture devoid of everything that isn't 100% certain. The more proof, the better of course, but when dealing with Antiquity in general, few things are absolutely certain to begin with, especially outside of a Greco-Roman context.

Unlike Eurasian warrior cultures, Kushites usually didn't burry their dead with weapons of warfare. Not until the politically tumultuous Post-Meroitic Period do we see larger cashes of weapons of war in grave sites with some regularity. Most weapons in the earlier graves can be associated with the hunt, not necessarily war. They didn't create figurines or statues of warriors. They didn't often create frescoes or reliefs depicting battles. Actually they did, but most of the battle scenes were located on the upper or middle registers of now disintegrated walls. The few remaining battle scenes are heavily damaged and poorly documented. They didn't write elaborate works on military equipment and tactics, and foreign accounts are often somewhat unreliable... So our understanding of Kushite warfare is based on the exceptions in the aforementioned fields. Because of the richness of Sudanese history and archaeology, we have a lot of exceptions though, which helps a lot, and allows us to create a relatively complete image.

With regard to Kushite pikemen, I was always wondering what the specific word was that Strabo used, that got translated into pike. So I thank you! I learned a new word, "κοντός". I'm quite satisfied with the translation, as it seems to confirm the use of a larger, two handed thrusting spears (pikes), somehow comparable to the large lances used by Iranians or the pikes used by the Cherusci. This is in line with the large thrusting spear depicted in the graffiti from Musawwarat. It's also in line with the large variety of Kushite spear tips in the archaeological record: small ones were used for javelins, medium sized (c. 20 cm) for conventional spear, large ones (+30 cm), we can assume were used for pikes, and even larger ones (+50 cm) were used for cutting/slashing (I'm assuming these were used specifically for cavalry). 

 

5 hours ago, Nescio said:

ξίφος, which means specifically a short, double-edged, stabbing sword, but could also be used in a generic sense for any blade (as in that sentence from Strabo quoted earlier;

No, he's talking about actual double edged short swords as are depicted in Kushite art, not a generic blade. The problem seems to be that you don't even believe Strabo's account, while this account in itself even undersells the Kushites for obvious political reasons. 

These are the ξίφη that Strabo means:

Spoiler

Tucked away in his belt:

1329544186_Prince_Arikankharer_Slaying_His_Enemies_Meroitic_beginning_of_first_century_AD_sandstone_-_Worcester_Art_Museum_-_IMG_7535.thumb.jpg.f46e11ad3af32a95f6173724299df3dd.jpg

 

Tucked behind his back

1070651378_KingdomofKushkushiteVictoryreliefofmeroiticKingSherkarerShorkarorwithswordspearbowarrowre-uliarinitsartisticstylemithraicJebelQeili1stcenturyAD.thumb.jpg.c8d14ff694d90f44b714b266052bd056.jpg

 

In-hand, raised above his head, with scabbard flung around his back

1111912163_Kingdomofkushkushitereliefmeroiticmeroetemple250suntemplebattleaxeswordscabbard.thumb.jpg.146f0e562ad4755d1928856cab553c84.jpg

 

In-hand raised above her head. 

3145730_Queenamanitorestrikingherenemieswithaswordfromtheliontempleatnaqarelief.thumb.png.0a5ae44e85b4dc6ee9b3d605264f74a4.png

Comparing to other scenes like this, the large blade sticking out above the head of the prisoners is probably one of those +50cm spear tips that I mentioned earlier, also depicted in the first image, which were also found in archaeological context at Post Meroitic El Hobagi (Kushites in the century after the fall of Meroë/terminal decline), together with swords and axes.

 

Here's an extremely rare, intact, Nobatian sword, Post Meroitic X-Group Culture (Ballana and Qustul). They inherited their military legacy from Kush. In fact they seemed to form part of the military aristocracy before the fall of Meroë.

2052884437_BallanaandQustulXgroupLowerNubianIronSteelsword150cm.thumb.jpg.f3ce936fe27b022405f60282c8660f9e.jpg

 

Here are examples of 18th century Sudanese swords which bare a striking resemblance to the earlier Meroitic swords from the reliefs.

9cf2a4ba77cc6787240df40e9c503888.jpg.35b0f844b81cdd1237099ead6dd7bd03.jpg

1877349993_18thcenturysteelwoodandsilvershortsworddaggerfromsudanafrica.thumb.jpg.d2424455a82c5879d299bc66d85f5beb.jpg

 

And these 19th century Sudanese short swords/elongated daggers that bare a faint resemblance to much, much earlier examples

1589992121_Kordofansudanlongknifeorshortswordrhinohilt47cm.jpg.3d9ea02c1b49074cd269cdc1fbe98c11.jpgs1524.jpg.97417ccc49189c669b8c4b5ea9fc29b5.jpgad35fad13e290e22be4762b5561300db.thumb.jpg.c4e0833319b890be75d0740e7e886ee4.jpg

 

Just to clarify, these 18th and 19th century examples have been around for a long time, and look pre-Islamic. Their similarity to the swords depicted in Kushite reliefs suggests that they are simply an evolution of these earlier examples, only to be supplanted by the Sudanese Kaskara from the 14th century onwards. The Kaskara is believed to be Arab-inspired sword, but as you can note, the unique shape of the scabbard is clearly the same as the shape of the Meroitic scabbard in the first relief, confirming the long lasting impact of Kushite sword traditions on later Sudanese swords.

(most Kaskara are long, but some are short)

1351631000.thumb.jpg.5c62fcedef1919338d63041c12504203.jpg

PageImage-527478-4932055-UNHCR_Sokol_Portrait_Series_14.thumb.jpg.9053050a9e809bbe18af9347de6c7683.jpg

1714547259_ScreenShot2017-10-28at02_58.34copy.thumb.jpg.7d2c21b6f762fe7af1b12ca1a8a902b4.jpg

1797860838_bejaswordhandle.thumb.jpg.d6bee4888289928138ba687959189b47.jpg1228981367_Dervish-EmirMahdifollowerNaamanemirofthetribeofBaggara.thumb.jpg.80f500e2f0ee97f8dc0df436aa88a134.jpg

 

5 hours ago, Nescio said:

besides, pike doesn't square with θυρεός

That's not necessarily what Strabo said. He said they were "badly armed; for they carried large shields made of raw hides, and hatchets for offensive weapons; some, however, had pikes, and others swords", indicating that the swordsmen and pikemen were armed in a different manner. Kushites also used round shields and we know that they sometimes strapped small round shields to their left shoulder/upper arm, freeing up both hands. Sudanese swordsmen always use round shields. Oblong shields don't work well with their style of fighting. Oblong shields are  carried by javelinists and spearmen.

 

Sometimes I like to look for clues in the much more primitive areas of Darfur and Southern and South Sudan. Up till the last century or so their culture was more or less unchanged from that described and depicted by Kushites, Egyptians and others, and can sometimes offer interesting insights. They're obviously distinct from Kushites, but there was also obvious cross influence (weapons, musical instruments, metalworking, some types of adornments, scarification, etc). Anyway, they also distinguish between short javelins, medium sized one handed spears and larger c. 3.5 meter long spears. Definitely not a sarissa, but approaching the size of a pike (I also think they used them in a 2 handed fashion). Unlike what Strabo, said, Kushites were well commanded, and the use of a similar weapon (perhaps slightly larger) in an organized army is probably what inspired Strabo to use the word κοντός.

Spoiler

11495891_1_x.jpg.d0f5cdfa5ae952d35354d6cb2c37c3ad.jpg

170601105233-restricted-george-rodger-nuba-and-latuka-1-super-43.thumb.jpg.0f56a4c9d7b65d82cda5542f3a793dd5.jpg

170601110824-restricted-george-rodger-nuba-and-latuka-2-super-43.thumb.jpg.e1bd013ab45c61e5349488c54734784d.jpg

 

Perhaps a compromise can be made. Kushite Pikemen start out with shorter 3.5 meter pikes like those used by their primitive tribal periphery to the South and South West, and transition to larger pikes comparable to the sarissa as they level up, to illustrate Ptolemaic influence from the 3rd century BC onwards. Quick photoshop of wowgetoffyourcellphone's pikemen: 

191214888_WowgetoffyourcellphoneKushitepikemensuggestion.thumb.jpg.051956c75fb1193dfda0c49715d2dab0.jpg 

@Stan` Were these shoulder-shields actually committed to svn? I don't know... 

Edited by Sundiata

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6 hours ago, Sundiata said:

That's not necessarily what Strabo said. He said they were "badly armed; for they carried large shields made of raw hides, and hatchets for offensive weapons; some, however, had pikes, and others swords", indicating that the swordsmen and pikemen were armed in a different manner. Kushites also used round shields and we know that they sometimes strapped small round shields to their left shoulder/upper arm, freeing up both hands. Sudanese swordsmen always use round shields. Oblong shields don't work well with their style of fighting. Oblong shields are  carried by javelinists and spearmen.

Which again shows how important it is to look at the original. The Greek particle δέ can indeed indicate an opposition, however, here it is between πέλεκυς (axe), κοντός, and ξίφος.

Celtic and Roman swordsmen have double-edged swords and oblong shields, though.

Anyway, perhaps I will keep Kushite pikemen; and maybe add non-champion axemen; I haven't decided; more evidence is welcome.

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On 8/22/2019 at 9:04 PM, Sundiata said:

771872414_kingdomofkushkushiteGraffitiofmeroiticpikemanatmusawwaratalsufra.jpg.c7aec29c63ad2db879d2a2b8881ccde6.jpg

For me, indeed the butt-spike looks more like a sarissa-type than a dory-type.

However, I found suspicious that nobody clearly expressed their use of the phalanx. Maybe it is only a long spear like in the case of the Cherusci.

Since the Kushite faction has already a very diverse roster, maybe the pikemen can be moved to a champion unit or to a reform to research by the player as suggested by Sundiata.

 

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1 hour ago, Nescio said:

Celtic and Roman swordsmen have double-edged swords and oblong shields, though.

Yeah, admittedly a bit of speculation on my part, based on what my amateur eyes can glean from Beja sword fighting. It's really difficult to find good info on their techniques, but what seems clear is that it's very different from European traditions. They have this funny habit of staying very low to the ground, in a crouching position, occasionally jumping up to take a swing at their opponents' head or center, or staying low and swooping at their opponents feet. They'll even rapidly raise the shield horizontally over their head to protect from downward slashing and then bring it down again just as fast. The shields move around a lot, and their compact form factor helps with that. Because the more recent swords are generally longer than Kushite ones, it's difficult to extrapolate, and the Kushite variants seem equally useful for stabbing (although they're always depicted in a slashing motion). I just can't think of a better place to look for clues than later Sudanese techniques. Either way, in more recent times, swordsmen in Sudan seem to use exclusively rhino, hypo or elephant hide round shields. Spearman (non-pikes) and javelinists used either the same round shields, oblong cow hide shields or wicker shields. 

Sword dancing was used to practice skill but is now just a cultural tradition. I think kalashnikovs are preferred in real fights these days.

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Here's a funny video from 1908 depicting some Beja putting up a performance, of sorts, for a caravan. 

 

2 hours ago, Nescio said:

Anyway, perhaps I will keep Kushite pikemen; and maybe add non-champion axemen; I haven't decided; more evidence is welcome.

I was in favor of having a non-champion axe-infantry unit, because axes were probably one of their most used melee weapons after spears, indicated by Strabo, depicted in Kushite relief and Ptolemaic figurines and a variety of them has shown up in the archaeological record. Apedemak is almost always either depicted with a spear or a bow and arrows. The choice to give the axe to the Apedemak temple guard was a compromise. 

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