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permanently strung. Bowstrings were usually fitted just before use by looping the line over the end of the upright limb, which was then bent by the weight of the archer's body so that the string could be affixed to the foot. Alternatively, a kneeling archer would grip the bow between his knees and stretch the bowstring vertically across the pliable stave. The Middle Kingdom self-bow probably had an effective range of between 50 and 60 metres. Arrows

Ancient Egyptian arrows too were made of reed, fletched with feathers, and tipped with flint, bone, hardwood (Egyptian ebony) or copper points. The advantage of copper lay in the fact that it was hard enough to produce a sharp penetrating point, but soft enough to buckle against bone. Copper therefore provided a more efficient warhead than wood and bone. Arrowheads could be barbed or triangular. Barbed arrows would be prevented from being drawn from the wound by the weight of the shaft, and in fact caused more injury when being extracted than when entering the body. The wider, triangular heads, on the other hand, were designed to cut flesh. The arrowhead was secured to the shaft by a tang and the reed head then securely bound with fine linen thread or sinew and thickly covered with black mastic. The tang had to be very long in proportion to the arrowhead so that side pressure did not exert too much leverage and split the shaft. Yet the advantages of reed were obvious; reeds were light, grew straight naturally and were easily obtained. Those arrows that have been studied were made from a reed that has a hard stem, similar in appearance to bamboo. Fletching was made from pieces cut from birds' feathers, neatly trimmed, glued and lashed to the end of the arrow shaft with linen thread.

The other wooden model (Cairo, Egyptian Museum, JE 30969) from the tomb of Mesehti at Asyut (see page 4). This group shows Nubian archers. They carry self-bows in one hand, and their arrows in the other. It is possible that the two models served to represent Mesehti's private army. (AKG-images)


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