ANCIENT EGYPTIAN INFANTRY
years are really only possible for sets from the early modern period onwards. Older subjects get whole centuries mentioned, which is fine, so it was with some surprise that we saw this set is dated to 2000 BCE. So, what happened in that year? Well nothing much actually. Indeed modern scholars are far from certain on exactly how the Egyptian calendar corresponds to that of the modern age, but leaving that aside this year was early in what is now called the Middle Kingdom. The Old Kingdom had dissolved into a time of chaos and civil war known as the First Intermediate Period, but the country was finally reunited by the early rulers of the 11th dynasty, heralding the start of the Middle Kingdom, which saw relative peace and prosperity under a strong central government. Egypt benefited greatly by being on the periphery of the ancient world, far enough away from any other major power to be neither potential threat nor target, so such military action as there was was confined to civil wars and actions against their less sophisticated near neighbours – Nubians and Libyans mostly.
The lack of any serious external threat meant Egyptian military technology hardly developed at all over many centuries. At this date edged weapons were made of copper, but use was still being made of flint for arrows and spear points. The men wore no more than a simple kilt and carried a shield of modest proportions (apart from missile troops, who lacked this too). Looking at the figures in this set they are certainly very Egyptian-looking, but something isn’t right here. Several have basic linen cuirasses and some have the large stiffened groin protectors, while we also see several with the now-familiar stripped headcloth. All these items appeared long after the stated date, with the headcloth being introduced during the 19th dynasty. Spears, javelins and bows are fine, but one man wields the famous khopesh sword, which Egyptian troops first adopted during the New Kingdom centuries later
- 46 figuren.