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The Kingdom of Kush: A proper introduction [Illustrated]


Sundiata
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4 hours ago, Nescio said:

Now it is unclear how far Persian influence extended and Herodotus is not always known as the most reliable author, nonetheless, the suggestion that the “Ethiopians above Egypt” didn't have iron weapons at the time (5th C BC) is fascinating,

I discussed this in the opening post of this thread, and several times since. Obviously, the descriptions are referring to primitive peripheral peoples like the early Noba to the west of the Nile. Kushites exported slaves, among other things, to the Persians (as well as receiving Persian luxery goods, attested in some of the recorded Kushite grave goods). These slaves were raided from the Kushite periphery, and may well have supplied the Persians with "Ethiopian" fighters, which is where the primitive description comes from. Not from Kush proper. 

 

4 hours ago, Nescio said:

he suggestion that the “Ethiopians above Egypt” didn't have iron weapons at the time (5th C BC) is fascinating,

I already repeatedly pointed out that the Kushites were using iron since at least c. 949 B.C.:

https://www.livescience.com/62419-ancient-horse-burial-tombos.html

 

And we know that they were already using bronze weapons since the 2nd millennium BC, which Herodotus doesn't mention either... 

 

4 hours ago, Nescio said:

“Ethiopians above Egypt” didn't have iron weapons at the time (5th C BC) is fascinating, and consistent with the finds from an article discussed earlier:

Brook Abdu, Robert Gordon “Iron artifacts from the land of Kush” Journal of Archaeological Science 31 (2004) 979–998 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2003.12.011

which dates “Early Meroitic” iron artefacts to 3rd C BC onwards.

I don't have access to the paper because of a paywall, but if the conclusion is really "dates “Early Meroitic” iron artefacts to 3rd C BC onwards", then it's either of extremely shoddy quality or just hopelessly outdated, or maybe the paper is merely commenting on the artefacts from "Arminna and Toshka West in Lower Nubia", which is the focus of the paper. These sites aren't even close to the main centres of iron production in Upper Nubia far to the south around Meroë. 

 

Let me share the relatively recent results from a proper, quality archaeological investigation into the antiquity of iron production at Meroë and Hamadab: 

"A New Radiocarbon Chronology for Ancient Iron Production in the Meroe Region of Sudan", by Jane Humphris & Thomas Scheibner, 2017:

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10437-017-9267-x

10437_2017_9267_Fig4_HTML.gif.png

Iron production at Meroë may date to as early as the 8th century BC, or even earlier, perhaps even predating the 25th Dynasty... In any case, it was well established by the 6th century BC.

It needs to be emphasized that these 97 radiocarbon dates were obtained from carefully selected charcoal samples embedded within the iron-slag itself, deliberately attempting to select against the possibility of old wood by subjecting the samples to detailed examination before dating... It should also be emphasized that the earliest dates aren't even from the earliest deposits! There was a "significant depth of metallurgical deposits underlying the earliest dates". These earlier deposits were difficult to reach because of the extraordinary size and depth of the deposit, the iron slag mound in question, reaching 60 meters in diameter and a height of 5 meters above ground level, making it unstable and unsafe to excavate to a depth of more than "2.05 m"..

That paper shows how it's done... 

The relative scarcity of iron objects and weapons from early dates is easily explained by the heavy level of corrosion in surviving examples (most of it is just crumbling, unidentifiable lumps of heavily corroded iron), the practice of recycling (and systematic looting), and the fact that they usually weren't even buried with weapons of war to begin with... 

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The passage in question is what Herodotus believes to have been the situation during the war c. 480 BC. It's unlikely the Persians had conquered Kush proper, so the “Ethiopians above Egypt” presumably came from the vicinity of Egypt, i.e. Lower Nubia, hence me pointing out Abdu and Gordon 2004.

(Interestingly, Herodotus' description broadly matches the Nuba mercenaries in 0 A.D.)

1 hour ago, Sundiata said:

I don't have access to the paper because of a paywall, but if the conclusion is really "dates “Early Meroitic” iron artefacts to 3rd C BC onwards", then it's either of extremely shoddy quality or just hopelessly outdated, or maybe the paper is merely commenting on the artefacts from "Arminna and Toshka West in Lower Nubia", which is the focus of the paper. These sites aren't even close to the main centres of iron production in Upper Nubia far to the south around Meroë. 

It's well sourced, peer reviewed, and also referenced in Humphris and Scheibner 2017. You can try a Sci-Hub mirror, e.g. https://sci-hub.st/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2003.12.011

The article analysed objects from an earlier archaeological expedition to Lower Nubia, grouped in the following periods:

Spoiler

chronology.png.fcf3c1aa717338c58e373cd55a5fef20.png

And points out significant differences (chemical composition, metallic structure, quality) between various periods. Moreover, Meroitic ironmaking is clearly distinct from both the Mediterranean and Egypt, and sub-Saharan Africa, indicating a different origin.

1 hour ago, Sundiata said:

In any case, it was well established by the 6th century BC.

That's not what the article says. Figure 4 indicates error bars; for more details, see the tables in Appendix A. It's possible ironworking there was ironworking at Meroë in the 8th C BC, but that's not the same as “well established”. More important than when the first iron objects are dated (e.g. ‘Kushites were capable of making iron arrow points’), is when they become common (e.g. ‘Kushite arrow points were iron’). As for the Near East and Mediterranean, iron objects were already made in the Bronze Age and bronze continued to be used in the Iron Age; nevertheless those periodizations are still useful, since luxury goods and common items are not the same.

Meroitic metallurgy evidently evolved over time; it's plausible Kushites opposing Cambyses' expedition in the 6th C BC were equipped differently from those opposing Nero's expedition in the 1st C AD. You see the same elsewhere: Greek and Persian warfare during the expidition of the Ten Thousand (401–399 BC) was already somewhat different from that during the Second Greco–Persian War (480–478 BC).

How to represent that in the anachronistic fantasy 0 A.D. is, is quite another problem. :)

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3 hours ago, Nescio said:

The passage in question is what Herodotus believes to have been the situation during the war c. 480 BC. It's unlikely the Persians had conquered Kush proper, so the “Ethiopians above Egypt” presumably came from the vicinity of Egypt, i.e. Lower Nubia, hence me pointing out Abdu and Gordon 2004.

If the archaeological record doesn't support this, then what's the relevance of Herodotus passage with regard to Lower Nubia? The description is entirely in line with the populations to the South and West of Kush proper. Not with the Lower Nubians to their north. Lower Nubians were thoroughly Egyptianized by the New Kingdom (a process that started in the Middle Kingdom), and was preserved during the "Nubian Dark Ages", and continued strongly into the Napatan Period as well. They were an intermediate/mixed population living in Egyptian style towns for the period being discussed here. Applying Herodotus description to these people is far beyond reasonable. In addition to this, there's another textual source that escapes me for now that states that "Ethiopia" supplied the Achaemenids with a certain number of slaves each year. Knowing this, it becomes obvious that the "Ethiopians" in Persians armies may have come from anywhere in or around Kush. They presumably weren't "captured" by Persians in Lower Nubia, but captured by Kushites somewhere in Upper Nubia or beyond, and traded via Lower Nubia, by Kushites to the Persians in exchange for luxery items, political favor or other things. 

 

3 hours ago, Nescio said:

It's well sourced, peer reviewed, and also referenced in Humphris and Scheibner 2017. You can try a Sci-Hub mirror, e.g. https://sci-hub.st/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2003.12.011

Indeed, it was a quality paper, but it is currently outdated... Written in 2003, published 2004... A lot has happened since then.

Did you actually read it well? Because the assertion that Kushite iron smelting doesn't predate the 5th century, or even the Meroitic Period, based on the finds from Arminna West, makes no sense whatsoever. Arminna West wasn't even occupied by Kushites until the Meroitic Period. Looking for evidence of Napatan Period iron smelting in a site that wasn't even occupied during the Napatan Period, in a region that was never a producer of iron, is, sorry to say, ridiculous... 

 

Again, what's the relevance of this table from a site that was not even occupied during the Napatan Period? It's not even close to Meroë, where most of the iron was actually produced. Lower Nubia doesn't even have wood resources for iron production... :

3 hours ago, Nescio said:

The article analysed objects from an earlier archaeological expedition to Lower Nubia, grouped in the following periods:

  Hide contents

chronology.png.fcf3c1aa717338c58e373cd55a5fef20.png

 

 

3 hours ago, Nescio said:

And points out significant differences (chemical composition, metallic structure, quality) between various periods. Moreover, Meroitic ironmaking is clearly distinct from both the Mediterranean and Egypt, and sub-Saharan Africa, indicating a different origin.

I'm not saying anything about the "origins of" (better said, "innovations in") Meroitic ironmaking or smithing techniques. I'm talking about the antiquity of Kushite iron smelting... It predates the Meroitic Period by centuries. We've already known this for years...

 

3 hours ago, Nescio said:

That's not what the article says. That's not what the article says. Figure 4 indicates error bars; for more details, see the tables in Appendix A. It's possible ironworking there was ironworking at Meroë in the 8th C BC, but that's not the same as “well established”.

I said "well established" by the 6th century, not 8th century BC... But it was probably already established by the 8th century BC. Yes, that's the working conclusion from the 97 radiocarbon dates providing us with the current chronology, from samples that didn't even reach the lowest levels. 

Quote

Chronology

The radiocarbon dates (see Table 1a and b, and Appendix A 01) indicate that MIS4, and in particular trench MIS4-3-13, contains the earliest slag deposits known at Meroe so far (see also Fig. 4). The formation of MIS4 began at the latest in the fifth century BC and probably earlier. In particular, comparing open sequence models with sequences delineated by outer boundaries, more than 75% of the probability distribution of the earliest date from MIS4 (trench MIS4-3-13, context 4075, R_Combine date) are positioned either between 765 and 605 calBC (open sequence) or between 595 and 411 calBC. In the closed sequences, a smaller distribution lies in the eighth century BC. The early distributions should not be disregarded, both because of the horizontal stratigraphy described above, and because of the significant depth of metallurgical deposits underlying the earliest dates. Weninger et al. (2011, p. 17) also support the significance of the small eighth-century BC distribution: “In the past, radiocarbon dating probability was taken to represent a value (number) attributed to each interval of the calendric time-scale. The new quantum probability is again a number. However, it is no longer valid to assume that the larger this number, the more probable the dating.”

Deposition of metallurgical debris at MIS4 continued to the fourth century BC and possibly to the second half of the second century BC. The stratigraphically deduced formation of MIS4 is reflected by the results of radiocarbon dating. The fact that only one early, but not the earliest date comes from trench 2, which is located in the core area of the mound according to the W-E stratigraphy, can be explained by the higher distance from the base of the mound in trench 2 compared to trench 3.

 

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10437_2017_9267_Tab1c_HTML.gif.png10437_2017_9267_Tab1b_HTML.gif.png

 

These aren't small mounds. They're pretty huge (MIS4 is 60 meters diameter, 5 meters high). So big they couldn't even reach the lowest layers at the core. They went to a depth of 2.05 meters in a mound that's 5 meters high. These aren't experimental smelts. These are large scale iron production activities that started depositing large quantities of slag at MIS4 latest in the fifth century BC and probably earlier. The chronology of MIS4 is based on 14 different radiocarbon dates, some of which are clearly clustering on 500 BC or earlier...  

Again:

"The early distributions should not be disregarded, both because of the horizontal stratigraphy described above, and because of the significant depth of metallurgical deposits underlying the earliest dates."

Which means that the quantities produced before the earliest acquired dates were already substantial!

 

Quote

"From the time of the Double Kingdom of Kush, (beginning in the first half of the 8th century BC), when Kushite Kings ruled Egypt as the 25th Dynasty, we now potentially have an absolute chronology for iron production at Meroe."

 

Quote

"In general, the iron production potentially spanned well over 1000 years, starting possibly as early as the 25th Dynasty in the mid-eighth century, certainly flourishing from the sixth century BC, and ending during the early Medieval (or transitional) period at Meroe and Hamadab, where it started much later in the mid-third century AD."

 

3 hours ago, Nescio said:

More important than when the first iron objects are dated (e.g. ‘Kushites were capable of making iron arrow points’), is when they become common (e.g. ‘Kushite arrow points were iron’). As for the Near East and Mediterranean, iron objects were already made in the Bronze Age and bronze continued to be used in the Iron Age; nevertheless those periodizations are still useful, since luxury goods and common items are not the same.

So what are you arguing now? That we shouldn't even consider Kushites an Iron-Age civilization, because of your claims based on outdated literature? Yes, Napatans were probably mostly using bronze and can be considered Bronze-Age, but even your own study you linked specifically remarked how heavily corroded those Meroitic artefacts from Arminna were, and that some of them retained little metal... How much worse for older examples? Metal was systematically recycled in the Nile Valley. It's a miracle we still have anything left today. Yet there have still been hundreds of iron artifacts excavated from the Meroitic Period. Most of them nothing more than glorified lumps of iron oxide. We only learn something useful in terms of quantities of iron produced from the slag mounds themselves, which are literally some of the largest in Africa. This production more than likely started before 500 BC, probably in the 8th century BC (and it's firmly Napatan or older in origin). Prior to that they were using bronze. No gazelle horn weapons have been identified so far, but dozens and dozens of bronze weapons are known from the earlier archaeological record. What relevance this has for 0AD, or the early history of iron production at Meroë, I don't know... In fact, they were even using stone arrow heads, in addition to bronze and iron. So should we consider them Stone-Age now? 

 

3 hours ago, Nescio said:

Meroitic metallurgy evidently evolved over time; it's plausible Kushites opposing Cambyses' expedition in the 6th C BC were equipped differently from those opposing Nero's expedition in the 1st C AD.

What do you mean "plausible". Of course there were differences... But this is a 0AD-problem, not a Kushites-problem. What that has to do with the history of iron smelting around Meroë is of little relevance... Especially if you're making an argument that they should use sharpened gazelle horns instead of you know, bronze like they've been using for well over a millennium before the starting date of 0AD. The only people for who Herodotus' description is relevant is for the early Noba and other peripheral populations to the West and South. 

 

3 hours ago, Nescio said:

How to represent that in the anachronistic fantasy 0 A.D. is, is quite another problem. :)

What does that have to do with Kushites and their iron smelting specifically? Kushites have both bronze and iron weapons in-game, as they had in real life, throughout the period relevant for 0AD. 

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@Sundiata] Collins, Robert O.; Burns, James M. (8 February 2007). A History of Sub-Saharan Africa. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521867467 – via Google Books. 

Evidence that Kush used blast furnaces and bloomery from the 7th century BC.

Humphris, Jane; Charlton, Michael F.; Keen, Jake; Sauder, Lee; Alshishani, Fareed (2018). "Iron Smelting in Sudan: Experimental Archaeology at The Royal City of Meroe". Journal of Field Archaeology. 43 (5): 399. doi:10.1080/00934690.2018.1479085. ISSN 0093-4690.

More evidence :

Edwards, David N. (29 July 2004). The Nubian Past: An Archaeology of the Sudan. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780203482766 – via Google Books.

Kush was an iron age civilization no doubt. 

Also @Sundiata, what about the Kushite battering rams. They were similar to the Assyrian but not so large. However, they did use battering rams and it was effective as seen in the damage of Helliopolis' walls. Please add the battering rams. Kush's military equipment are too low compared to the other game options. 

Edited by Abdominin
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28 minutes ago, Abdominin said:

Collins, Robert O.; Burns, James M. (8 February 2007). A History of Sub-Saharan Africa. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521867467 – via Google Books. 

Evidence that Kush used blast furnaces and bloomery from the 7th century BC.

Humphris, Jane; Charlton, Michael F.; Keen, Jake; Sauder, Lee; Alshishani, Fareed (2018). "Iron Smelting in Sudan: Experimental Archaeology at The Royal City of Meroe". Journal of Field Archaeology. 43 (5): 399. doi:10.1080/00934690.2018.1479085. ISSN 0093-4690.

More evidence :

Edwards, David N. (29 July 2004). The Nubian Past: An Archaeology of the Sudan. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780203482766 – via Google Books.

 

Kush was an iron age civilization no doubt. 

Thanks. 

 

20 minutes ago, Abdominin said:

Also @Sundiata, what about the Kushite battering rams. They were similar to the Assyrian but not so large.

I'd refer you back to the other thread I previously linked, but I believe the battering ram is a controversial translation of the "wooden helper" that Piye used at the siege to overcome the enemy walls, and is more commonly held to be a siege tower, which is in-game. To clarify, I do actually think they had battering rams, but there's no direct evidence that I'm aware of. I'm actually in favor of a Kushite battering ram. I think every civ should have them.

 

23 minutes ago, Abdominin said:

and it was effective as seen in the damage of Helliopolis' walls.

I'm not familiar with the source for this. Do you mind sharing it with us? 

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9 hours ago, Nescio said:

which dates “Early Meroitic” iron artefacts to 3rd C BC onwards.

The article says:

Quote

The Kushites appear to have been without iron as late as 480 BC[66]. The earliest iron artifacts within the kingdom are those found in pyramids dated to about 380 BC at the then capital town of Napata[20]. The large mounds at the site of Meroe, revealed as composed of slag when cut by workers building the railway from Wadi Halfa to Khartoum, mark the location of large-scale Kushite iron making. Iron production was underway here by 200 BC[55] or perhaps earlier [39,59,66].

The references are:

[20] R. Haaland, Iron production, its socio-cultural context andecological implications, in: R. Haaland, P. Shinnie (Eds.), African Iron Working, Norwegian University Press, Oslo, 1985, pp. 50–72

[39] P. Shinnie, Iron working at Meroe, in: R. Haaland, P. Shinnie (Eds.), African Iron Working, Norwegian University Press, Oslo, 1985, pp. 28–35.

[55] R.F. Tylecote, Metal working at Meroe, Sudan, in: N.B. Millet,A.L. Kelly (Eds.), Meroitica, Proceedings of the Third Inter-national Meroitic Conference, Toronto, 1977, Akademic Verlag,Berlin, 1982, pp. 29–49

[59] N.J. van der Merwe, The advent of iron in Africa, in: T.A.Wertime, J.D. Muhly (Eds.), The Coming of the Age of Iron,Yale University Press, New Haven, 1980, pp. 463–506.

[66] D. Williams, African iron in the classical world, in: L.A.Thompson, J. Ferguson (Eds.), African Classical Antiquity; Nine Studies, Ibadan University Press, Ibadan, 1969.

 

So even according to these outdated references, the earliest iron objects known for the Kushites are from the early 4th century BC.

 

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2 hours ago, Sundiata said:

So what are you arguing now?

Nothing.

All I did was post what Herodotes wrote on Ethiopian troops. The fact they used stone-tipped arrows struck me, and reminded me of an article I read last time we discussed Kushite iron, which I gave. That's all.

I'm not trying to prove Kushites didn't have iron. Nor do I really care when or where they first started producing it. Though it would be nice to know if and when the rank-and-file adopted iron-tipped arrows.

(Likewise, the existence of lead bullets didn't mean sling stones were no longer used in the Greek world.)

2 hours ago, Sundiata said:

Applying Herodotus description to these people is far beyond reasonable. In addition to this, there's another textual source that escapes me for now that states that "Ethiopia" supplied the Achaemenids with a certain number of slaves each year. Knowing this, it becomes obvious that the "Ethiopians" in Persians armies may have come from anywhere in or around Kush. They presumably weren't "captured" by Persians in Lower Nubia, but captured by Kushites somewhere in Upper Nubia or beyond, and traded via Lower Nubia, by Kushites to the Persians in exchange for luxery items, political favor or other things. 

Ethiopia is everything south of Egypt (or India). And they were armed men, not captives (i.e. slaves): they came from entities that deemed it opportune to send auxiliaries to the Persian ruler, for whatever reason. So yes, it's unclear where exactly they came from, though it must have been from within the wider Persian sphere of influence.

2 hours ago, Sundiata said:

Indeed, it was a quality paper, but it is currently outdated... Written in 2003, published 2004... A lot has happened since then.

Yes, a lot has happened since then, however, that does not mean the article is outdated. The Abdu and Gordon 2004 and Humphris and Scheibner 2017 analysed different things from different areas using different techniques; the latter does not supersede the former. Articles complement each other; the more research and scholarship is done and published, the better our understanding of the past becomes.

2 hours ago, Sundiata said:

I said "well established" by the 6th century, not 8th century BC...

Oops, my mistake.

2 hours ago, Sundiata said:

But it was probably already established by the 8th century BC. Yes, that's the working conclusion from the 97 radiocarbon dates providing us with the current chronology, from samples that didn't even reach the lowest levels. 

That's a bit misleading: of the 97 samples analysed, only one is from the 8th C BC, the MIS-4-2-13/N/4052 – Outlier, C-14 dated to 2590±42 BP and calibrated to 749±77 BC (carbon isn't constant, it fluctuates (climate change etc.), hence the need to calibrate absolute datings).

Fig. 4 Current radiocarbon chronology for maximum time range of iron production at Meroe and Hamadab. The modelled potential maximum calBC/AD start and end dates of the slag mounds are illustrated according to the 95.4% ranges of the probability distributions of the respective earliest and latest date.

i.e. the timeframe within it can be safely dated (95.4% = 2σ).

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20 minutes ago, Nescio said:

That's a bit misleading: of the 97 samples analysed, only one is from the 8th C BC, the MIS-4-2-13/N/4052 – Outlier, C-14 dated to 2590±42 BP and calibrated to 749±77 BC (carbon isn't constant, it fluctuates (climate change etc.), hence the need to calibrate absolute datings).

The issue with radiocarbon dating are the plateaux and the period of interest here clearly falls in one of the worst plateau ever known. The variability is clearly visible in the table for the calibration, they analyzed each sample three times (this is what we usually do in geochemistry). However, from the two samples 4017 and 4052, even by accounting the variability they could be confident for a second half of the 7th century BC at least.

Edit: An interesting intro on the topic of iron ore in Meroe:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/0067270X.2018.1515922

  

22 minutes ago, Nescio said:

All I did was post what Herodotes wrote on Ethiopian troops. The fact they used stone-tipped arrows struck me, and reminded me of an article I read last time we discussed Kushite iron, which I gave. That's all.


Well, bones javelins are common in Danemark and in the British Isles during the iron age, so why not. Arrows are projectiles, consumables.

Edited by Genava55
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10 hours ago, Nescio said:

which dates “Early Meroitic” iron artefacts to 3rd C BC onwards.

A poor choice of words, I apologize, I should have written e.g.

which analysed Meroitic iron artefacts from the 3rd C BC onwards.

Again, I'm not trying to disprove Kushite iron. :)

33 minutes ago, Sundiata said:

To clarify, I do actually think they had battering rams, but there's no direct evidence that I'm aware of. I'm actually in favor of a Kushite battering ram. I think every civ should have them.

This I fully agree with, hence https://code.wildfiregames.com/D2815

6 minutes ago, Genava55 said:

The issue with radiocarbon dating are the plateaux and the period of interest here clearly falls in one of the worst plateau ever known. The variability is clearly visible in the table for the calibration, they analyzed each sample three times (this is what we usually do in geochemistry). However, from the two samples 4017 and 4052, even by accounting the variability they could be confident for a second half of the 7th century BC at least.

Thanks for the clarification. The fact the different calibrated dates of a single sample don't overlap surprised me. Anyway, I'm confident the authors know what they're doing.

Nonetheless, it's important to carefully read what the article really says, and look at the actual data before jumping to conclusions, hence why I pointed the appendix.

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3 hours ago, Nescio said:

Nothing.

All I did was post what Herodotes wrote on Ethiopian troops. The fact they used stone-tipped arrows struck me, and reminded me of an article I read last time we discussed Kushite iron, which I gave. That's all.

It also struck me, which is why I insisted on the importance of the Nuba mercs (should be renamed "Noba"), to correctly represent the diversity of the armed forces to the disposal of Kush, from peripheral tribal levies to elite, New Kingdom style and unique Meroitic age warriors. For the period relevant to 0AD, all those types would have been present, for the duration of 0AD's timeframe, with the exception of the Meroitic types which of course, would only become a thing from the 3rd century onwards. But again, this "problem" is something specific to 0AD, not the Kushites.

 

3 hours ago, Nescio said:

I'm not trying to prove Kushites didn't have iron. Nor do I really care when or where they first started producing it. Though it would be nice to know if and when the rank-and-file adopted iron-tipped arrows.

I honestly don't know for sure, but again, there's little relevance for 0AD... They used stone, bronze and iron arrowheads during 0AD's timeframe, iron probably becoming progressively more common, like everywhere else. If you want to use this information for specific archery techs, that could be cool though. Beginning with stone tipped arrows, you could research a "bronze tipped arrows" tech, then an "iron tipped arrows" tech, and even an "barbed arrows tips" tech (though the bronze arrow heads could be barbed as well). But this progressive tech tree is not necessarily going to be more historically accurate.

 

3 hours ago, Nescio said:

Ethiopia is everything south of Egypt (or India). And they were armed men, not captives (i.e. slaves): they came from entities that deemed it opportune to send auxiliaries to the Persian ruler, for whatever reason. So yes, it's unclear where exactly they came from, though it must have been from within the wider Persian sphere of influence.

Kush and the Achaemenid Persian Empire bordered each other. Kush and pre-Kushite Sudan has a long history of supplying their northern neighbor with mercenaries and levies. Since the Old Kingdom, they literally came from all over Sudan, in considerable numbers. If the Kushite state was supplying these armed men to Persia, they were probably not "free men". Especially when considering the way they are described, it's clear that they came from areas that Kushites raided for slaves, as depicted in some Meroitic Period reliefs. Either way, slaves or not, there's no reason to think they came from Lower Nubia, nor any reason to think they came from an area under direct Persian influence, which is the crux of my point. 

Anyway, Herodotus said a lot of things, some more reliable than others, and often apparently mixing kernels of truth with fantasies. He's often a bit of a problematic source. Not saying he's without value, on the contrary, but his value lies in those elements that can be corroborated from other sources. Lets see what else he says about the Aethiopian Persian relations:

"On tribute levied by Cambyses on Aithiopia. Ca. 450-430 BC. Herodotus 3.97.2-3.

Now the following were not required to deliver any tribute, but did bring gifts: the Aithiopians along the Egyptian borders, whom Cambyses subdued when he marched against the long-lived Aithiopians, ... who live around the holy Nysa and celebrate the festivals for Dionysos. [These Aithiopians and their neighbours have the same kind of semen as the Callantian Indians, and they have subterranean dwellings.]85 [3] These two peoples together used to deliver every second year, and still deliver in my time, two choinikes of unrefined gold, two hundred logs of ebony, five Aithiopian boys, and twenty great elephant tusks."

The immediately obvious remarks that need to be made here, (aside from "subterranean dwellings"?? Allusion to troglodytes from Libya?), is that they were not "required to deliver any tribute, but did bring gifts", indicating royal gift-sharing, common in the ancient world. Secondly, and more importantly, neither ebony trees, nor elephants are locally available in Lower Nubia, which means that the ebony logs and elephant tusks purportedly gifted by the Aithiopians did not come from Lower Nubia, but were exported from the south. The same might well be true for the 5 Aithiopian boys, which in itself is indicative of a human trade as well.  

Some further comments from Fontes Historae Nubiorum on the Aithopians fighting in Xerxes' army:

"Comments

“The Aithiopians...” described as fighting in Xerxes’ (486-465 BC) army go into battle painting their body half white and half ochre and carrying arrows with stone tips like Africans (cf. Zahan 1975). If there were in fact Aithiopians of this sort serving in Xerxes’ army, they must have been recruited from the southern fringes of Kush. Actual contacts between Egypt under Xerxes’ rule and Kush are indicated by the fine Attic plastic rhyton made and signed around 470 BC by the potter Sotades and found under pyramid Beg. S. 24 at the Meroe South Cemetery (Dunham 1963, 383, figs 212- 215; for its dating see Török 1989, 118 f. no. 1). This rhyton and other works of Sotades (cf. Kahil 1972) were made for an oriental, i.e., Persian clientèle: the Meroe rhyton is decorated with scenes of battles between Greeks and Persians in which it is the latter that are victorious. The find of a related rhyton of Sotades at Memphis (ibid.) indicates what is also otherwise evident, that the Meroe rhyton came from Egypt and it is tempting to suppose that it was a diplomatic present sent to the king of Kush by Xerxes’ Egyptian satrap. Kushite presents, among them Herodotus’ soldiers, may have been sent north in exchange (cf. Török 1989, 69)."

 

3 hours ago, Nescio said:

The Abdu and Gordon 2004 and Humphris and Scheibner 2017 analysed different things from different areas using different techniques; the latter does not supersede the former.

It does, with regard to your assertion that Lower Nubians, or even Kushites didn't know or use iron weapons in the 5th century BC. 

3 hours ago, Nescio said:

That's a bit misleading:

No, you were being misleading by drawing different conclusions than what the expert analysis is pointing out, which is literally that iron production in Meroë was "certainly flourishing from the sixth century BC.

 

2 hours ago, Nescio said:

Nonetheless, it's important to carefully read what the article really says, and look at the actual data before jumping to conclusions, hence why I pointed the appendix.

But I was not jumping to any conclusions, and I was not the one having difficulty understanding the paper, nor the paper you linked. I literally parroted the most up to date expert conclusions and had to point out to you the glaring faulty logic in using Meroitic Period finds from Arminna West to draw conclusions about Napatan Period iron production at Meroë. Just to be perfectly clear, I'm not the one challenging an increasingly growing scholarly consensus. Large scale iron smelting at Meroë definitely dates to the Napatan Period, if not earlier.  

 

2 hours ago, Nescio said:

This I fully agree with, hence https://code.wildfiregames.com/D2815

3 hours ago, Genava55 said:

I'm glad we occasionally agree on things ;) 

 

2 hours ago, Nescio said:

Again, I'm not trying to disprove Kushite iron. :)

I understand, but from the way you framed your posts and dismissed the conclusions of some of the most up to date, and most comprehensive research on the topic to date, it seems that you were denying the presence and/or importance of iron production in the Napatan Period, and conflating peripheral tribals with the much more sophisticated Lower Nubians. 

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@NescioHere is a depiction of a Kushite battle ram during Piye's siege in Egyptian cities. image.png.0500d4f9b487645bb884345561af0750.png

Is there a way to get this added to Kushite military in the upcoming  alpha 24 update? To me their battering ram looks similar to the in game rams used by the Greeks. Perhaps we can get Kush something similar just like we did with the siege tower. 

image.png.992f66f727426e77a490d2950105b341.png

I think something like this is in-game. We can simply give the Kushites one too. 

Edited by Abdominin
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1 hour ago, Abdominin said:

Here is a depiction of a Kushite battle ram during Piye's siege in Egyptian cities. image.png.0500d4f9b487645bb884345561af0750.png

 

I'm sorry to disappoint, but it's not Kushite, but Egyptian. It's from Beni Hasan, Tomb No. 17 (BH17), Oryx Nome, Middle Egypt, 11th or 12th Dynasty/First Intermediate Period. The tomb belonged to Khety, a local governor. 

Beni Hasan Newberry First Intermediate Period Egypt tomb no 17 siege fort fortress castle batering ram 2.jpg

https://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/newberry1893bd2/0116

 

Beni Hasan Newberry First Intermediate Period Egypt tomb no 17 siege fort fortress castle batering ram 3.jpg

 

Similar to 2 other scenes from Beni Hasan (probably depicting some kind of civil war):

newberry1893bd2_0105.jpg

newberry1893bd1_0119.jpg

 

image10egyptram.jpg

Definitely valuable towards understanding early Egyptian siege warfare, but not a primary reference for Kush (though some of those warriors are undoubtedly Kushite). That said, I do support using these as inspiration for Kushite rams nonetheless. Instead of being wield around, these would be carried around. When it moves, you'd see it being lift off the ground, and when it's stationary/attacking, it would sit on the ground. 

 

1 hour ago, Abdominin said:

Is there a way to get this added to Kushite military in the upcoming  alpha 24 update?

It requires 3D art and animations. I don't know if @Alexandermb has time and internet access these days? 

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@Sundiatadarn, I made a huge mistake. Really sorry. But either way, is possible that was(or not) the inspiration for the Kushite ram. Either way, playing as Kush is really hard when countering battering rams. However if @Alexandermbhad the time, it will be helpful, if the Kushite rams could be modeled on the Egyptian ones. But @Sundiata does Kush have a Chariot unit? Or is only limited to their heroes?

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1 hour ago, Stan` said:

I know someone hasn't read his emails :D

Sorry, my inbox was/is a mess :blush: I just read the last mail. 

I really hope the man is ok... 

What about @LordGood? Any spare time/interest in this? 

 

9 hours ago, Abdominin said:

darn, I made a huge mistake. Really sorry.

No problem man... I've seen it associated with Piye before myself, so it's an innocent mistake... 

 

9 hours ago, Abdominin said:

But either way, is possible that was(or not) the inspiration for the Kushite ram.

Yeah, it might be. I think it's ok for a reference. A bit unique, which is good. 

 

9 hours ago, Abdominin said:

does Kush have a Chariot unit? Or is only limited to their heroes?

For now only limited to Amanirenas. We'd need another "less-royal" chariot texture for a general chariot unit. But it would require consensus in the balance department to actually get in-game, which isn't straightforward. We still have some time to discuss it further before Alpha 24 drops, so we'll see if there is any appetite for a Kushite chariot unit. 

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On 9/24/2020 at 11:01 PM, Sundiata said:

It also struck me, which is why I insisted on the importance of the Nuba mercs (should be renamed "Noba")

https://code.wildfiregames.com/D3018

14 hours ago, Abdominin said:

@NescioHere is a depiction of a Kushite battle ram during Piye's siege in Egyptian cities.

Is there a way to get this added to Kushite military in the upcoming  alpha 24 update?

While I can propose patches, make suggestions, and raise concerns (anyone could), I don't decide what makes it in and what not. https://code.wildfiregames.com/D2815 would give all civs rams (kush would reuse the pers (i.e. Assyrian) ram actor), and multiple people are in favour; however, others have pointed out it would make civs more similar to each other, so I don't know what'll happen eventually.

42 minutes ago, Sundiata said:

We'd need another "less-royal" chariot texture for a general chariot unit. But it would require consensus in the balance department to actually get in-game, which isn't straightforward.

Actually something has to exist before it can be enabled, i.e. art has to be created first, unused assets are fine; a gameplay patch can follow later.

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1 hour ago, Nescio said:

Thanks man...

 

1 hour ago, Nescio said:

Actually something has to exist before it can be enabled, i.e. art has to be created first, unused assets are fine; a gameplay patch can follow later.

I'll see if I can whip up another texture in the coming days/weeks

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I recently came across a very rare photograph of a decorative Meroitic period stone cut window featuring some kind of figurative lattice work, from Qasr Ibrim, which was in itself a pretty interesting architectural feature that I was unaware of. It's is a figure of a man, carrying an elephant on his shoulders, comparable to a mural from the royal city in Meroë, with noticeable Hellenistic influence and possibly represeting a Nubianized Heracles:

Qasr Ibrim Meroitic building window sil man with elephant on shoulders copy.jpg

 

The mural from Meroë?

MpJRGTy.jpg

 

More cool shots of Qasr Ibrim:

Qasr Ibrim Ruins Lower Nubia Southern Egypt Nubian gate.jpg

Gateway of Qasr Ibrim fortress walls Lower Nubia Kush Kushite South Egypt.jpg

Qasr Ibrim Ruins Lower Nubia Southern Egypt Nubian gate 2.jpg

Qasr Ibrim Ruins Lower Nubia Southern Egypt Nubian 1.jpg

Qasr Ibrim Ruins Lower Nubia Southern Egypt Nubian stairway Meroitic building.jpg

Qasr Ibrim Ruins Lower Nubia Southern Egypt Nubian Meroitic building.jpg

Qasr Ibrim Ruins Lower Nubia Southern Egypt Nubian 3.jpg

Qasr Ibrim Ruins Lower Nubia Southern Egypt Nubian 4.jpg

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I don't want to flog a dead horse, but a while back, the idea that Kushites had stone vaults was ridiculed by one of our forum members. Although none of the structures in-game actually feature any stone vaults (our vaults are made from brick). That said, just for the sake of being complete and setting the record straight, Kushites did in fact have stone vaults. Here's an example:

Meroitic blocks from vaulted chamber in the ruins of B 1100 Gebel Barkal jebel Kingdom of Kush Kushite Nubia Sudan.jpg 

Remains from another stone-vaulted chamber, I think from a grave (some of the pyramid chapels also had vaulted chambers):

Vaulted chamber el kurru Kingdom of Kush Kushite Nubia architecture history.jpg

 

I have been sooo absent these months. Sorry guys... I've been focussing heavily on visualizing many other aspects of various African histories that are unknown to the general public and aren't known to most specialists either, so I feel a heavy responsibility to make it more accessible to people. I've been posting this visual material in another dedicated history forum, which has been eating up my time. Also, I've been having serious issues loading most pages on this forum for some reason...

Anyway, research into Kushite history never stopped, and I now have a scary amount extra reference material, that I'm having some trouble organizing it in a presentable way. Anyway, I'll just make some bite sized posts for now. One thing that's quite unique to Kush in African history is the use of water pipes/plumbing in some of their elite structures. I believe aside from the Kushites only the later Swahili had developed plumbing.  

This one is from Meroë, pretty sure I posted it before, but here's a different angle of the drainage pipe from the Royal Baths:

Meroë drainage pipe water works royal baths.jpg

 

And this one is from Musawwarat es Sufra:

Musawwarat es sufra waterworks water pipe underground Kushite Meroitic.jpg

 

I also wanted to share this cool image of a tiled floor in a temple in Meroë. These kind of tiling is usually obscured by sand, which is deliberately used to cover the ruins, to protect them from the elements, but it also, well, obscures them, which means that most people don't really ever get to see them. I think they're an excellent demonstration of elite architectural finishing rarely associated with Nubian archaeology, but very much a part of the mix as well:

hintze on the tiled floor meroe Kingdom of Kush Kushite Nubia Sudan history.jpg

 

Most of the floors of course wouldn't have been quite as luxurious. Remains of some stone flooring in a Meroitic temple at Abu Erteila (turn of the Common Era):Abu Erteila temple K 1000 naos Kingdom of Kush Kushite Nubia history.jpg

5-Abu-Erteila-1024x768.jpg

 

Another chamber from the same temple complex:

1808473433_SecondsetofsandstonealtarsfromAbuErteila.jpg

I actually don't think I've mentioned much about the site of Abu Erteila before, but it seems to have been yet another royal complex, complete with temples and a palace, probably built during the reign of Queen Amanitore and King Natakamani.

Site plan of the excavated sections of the temple complex at Abu Erteila:

Abu Erteila excavation results.jpg

 

Site plan of the excavated sections of a palatial structure at Abu Erteila:

Abu Erteila palatial structure 1st century.jpg

Few more details from Abu Erteila:

Abu Erteila architrave from kom II.jpg

Abu Erteila Basalt pillar with names of Natakamani and Amanitore.jpg

 

Lion headed water spout from Abu Erteila: 

Abu Erteila kom II K 1000 temple lion sculpture for chaneling water.jpg

 

Some of the stone lions of Abu Erteila:

Lion statues abu erteila Kom-2,-statui-lvov.jpg

I'm still a little surprised that no-one has dubbed the Kushites: "The Lion Kingdom" yet. Seems exceptionally appropriate. 

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For those of you who are interested in the history of Nubia after the Kingdom of Kush, Kings and Generals just did a video on Christian Nubia. Not a terrible introduction to the history:

 

Here's a recent Youtube video on the history of Kush. It features the artwork of @LordGood and @Victor Rossi, so I couldn't not share it :P  

Nice... Not thrilling... But nice... 

 

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