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There is little doubt that the military resources of the Nubians were second rate compared to those of their bellicose northern neighbours. This salient fact is based upon the relative ease with which the pharaoh's army sailed upstream and met little resistance, if any, on the Nile. Yet the complexity and sophistication of these fortresses is striking, incorporating ingenious architectural devices that would be more readily associated with medieval structural design. Ditches, glacis, berms, towers and arrow-loops, all indicate a concern that can hardly be squared with the threat from a population of semi-nomadic herders less well developed, at least in the military arts, than Middle Kingdom Egypt. It is tempting to view this fortress architecture as exemplifying the same kind of conspicuous 'energy waste' as the mortuary complexes of the Old Kingdom, a celebration of power and the divine link, wholly divorced from practical need. Alternatively these fortresses could be seen as a means to concentrate military power in the hands of the pharaoh away from the nomes. Senusret III, who was responsible for establishing most of these military installations, significantly curbed the powers of the nomarchs, who not only administered their nome but

Nubian boatman, steering a dhow on the Nile near Kom Ombo. To the ancient Egyptians the Nubians were the 'Bowpeople', nomads who conducted a type of guerrilla warfare against them. If they were not engaged in conducting raids hither and thither, some Nubians served as auxiliaries in Egypt. (Esther Carre)

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Osprey warrior 121 soldier of the pharaoh  
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