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AUXILIARIES Many light-skinned warriors with black wavy hair and thin, pointed beards are depicted in Middle Kingdom funerary art. In the Dynasty XII tomb of Khnumhotep at Beni Hasan (BH3), for instance, they are shown visiting the nomarch with their kith and kin in order to trade. Known to the Egyptians by such vague terms as heryw-sh ('sand-dwellers') or mentjiu ('wild ones'), they wear either a characteristic 'coat of many colours', a highly decorated, patterned, sleeveless woollen garment, or a patterned, wrap-around kilt. They carry a variety of weapons including self-bows, slings, javelins, large clubs, small battleaxes, and throwsticks. The precise purpose of the throwstick, which was essentially a curved wooden blade, has been a matter of debate amongst scholars, some suggesting that it was used as a hunting weapon in the same fashion as a boomerang. However, the Egyptian version was certainly not designed to return to the thrower, and it would be wrong to assume that the throwstick in general was without military function. A useful ethnological parallel, perhaps, are the Ingessana of the Blue Nile region who use a number of types of throwstick in hunting and warfare (Spring 1993: 77). As foreign soldiers in Egyptian service the auxiliaries would have used their native weapons, which were developed in a different environment and for a different style of fighting. Auxiliaries were organized in separate units under their own native leaders, and were tactically independent. Since there was no shortage of manpower in Egypt, the foreign soldiers were employed as specialists. They were recruited from the nomadic bands of bedouin on the eastern frontier of Egypt, who may have been valued more on account of their expertise in scouting, skirmishing and ambushes, than on account of weaponry alone. Certainly their knowledge of the desert and their ability to move easily across arduous terrain made them valuable military scouts. Likewise the Medjay, a pastoral and cattle-rearing people from the deserts east of the Nile in Lower Nubia, were favoured as foreign soldierscouts. Most were armed with a self-bow, but other weapons carried could include clubs, daggers and javelins. Shields, if used, were simple oval sections of hide stretched over a wooden frame. Nubians in general were highly regarded as fighters, and already in Dynasty VI the recruitment of an Egyptian army bears eloquent testimony to the value placed on them as auxiliary troops. When Weni,

Throwstick (Edinburgh, Royal Museum, 1914.70) made of wood. Artistic representation during the Middle Kingdom period reveals that the throwstick was not only a weapon of the hunt but also employed during battle. To improve throwing performance, the weapon was commonly given a grip of leather or linen. (Esther Carre)


Osprey warrior 121 soldier of the pharaoh  
Osprey warrior 121 soldier of the pharaoh