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Title: Composition, form and function : scientific and stylistic investigations of Egyptian Bronze Age weaponry in the context of the Eastern Mediterranean
Author: Boatright, Daniel Douglas Mendham
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2013
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The ancient Egyptians portrayed themselves as more than adept at preparing and executing a battle plan and this is clearly shown in the archaeological and textual record. There is, however, a tendency by the Egyptians to oversimplify the nature of battle, depicting an idealisation of the real situation, purely focused on the role of the king or the service to the king by an elite individual. This is best portrayed in royal mortuary complexes, such as that of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu, where a series of depictions and associated inscriptions on the walls of the temple display the king fighting the might of the Sea People and Libyan invaders, all but single handedly. In a similar vein high officials, such as Ahmose-Pen-Nekhbet from EI-Kab (Urk IV: 32-39), describe how they contributed to the king's army and how their personal prowess on the battlefield had expanded the borders of Egypt. These texts and depictions are often the subject of modern scholarly analyses (such as Goedicke 1985: Shaw 1996: Spalinger 2005), with the material of the battlefield confined to technological analyses (Shaw 2001), typological assessments (Davies 1987) and general discussions (including Littauer and Crouwe11979: McLeod 1982: Shaw 1991). The capabilities of the weapons themselves are rarely considered to any great degree, largely as a result of most of the weaponry being found in a funerary context, and as a consequence are more readily thought to be ceremonial in function rather than a representation of military activity. In fact some scholars have been actively downplaying the evidence for warfare in the Bronze Age, instead describing weapons as having an almost entirely ceremonial purpose, only occasionally (if at all) being used for fighting. Philip (1989, 2003) and Whittle (1985) in particular focus on the social, religious and ceremonial aspects with Philip (2003: 186) noting that styles and fashions may have been as important as mechanical efficiency. This is especially true for weapons of the elite, who may have had weapons designed for semi-ritualised combat between champions, rather than for largescale battles. These ideas have led to the commonly discussed concept of the 'peaceful savage' though this has become less popular in recent years with Bridgford (1997: 7) considering it to be a result of a misplaced scholarly nicety and Keeley (1996), among others, being keen to move away from this perceived idealisation. Instead more practical assessments of weaponry have emerged, with Hulit (2002), Molloy (2007) and Peatfield (2007) attempting to determine how effective their respective weapons were as fighting instruments. These analyses very much return to the concepts established by Yadin (1963) who established a function-efficiency focused model, with civilisations developing weapons on the basis of whom they were fighting and the capacity of these artefacts to demonstrate their ability to successfully attack their enemies. It is certainly true that some weapons would have been status symbols, others used for hunting, and possibly worn for ceremonial purposes, but to what degree distinctions were made between a fighting weapon and a ceremonial one is unclear. Were they the same thing or was a specially produced version utilised in 'ritualised warfare'? To what extent these ideas have merit are the subject of this thesis. Studying weapons from Bronze Age Egypt and the Near East the production and design of individual weapons will be considered in the context of function and use within the ancient culture. Chemical analysis and a metallographic study of a number of weapons will be utilised to determine how these weapons were produced, why certain styles were utilised, and whether these weapons were merely religious and social representations of masculinity or whether they had the capability to be successfully used in a battle.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available