Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>BC1274 Egyptian seneny

Subjectseneny chariot archer
Culture: New Kingdom Egyptian
Setting: imperial warfare, Egypt 1570-1085BC

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Spalinger 2005 p176-177
"With the rise of Horemheb to Pharaonic status, and then with his successor, the vizier and general Paramesses, military affairs became quite preponderant.  Indeed, from mid Dynasty XVIII to Dynasty XIX the elite sector of the army can be more narrowly pinpointed.  In the language of war, for example, the most common word, seneny, referred to the 'charioteer,' and we know of many 'chiefs of the charioteers' during this time.  The term was borrowed from Asia, indeed it is Hurrian and therefore of Mitannian origin.  Again, we are thrown into the area of Syria as a focus for the chariotry division.  The shield-bearer, Egyptian qer'iu, is derived from another foreign word signifying 'shield.'  This man was the second warrior who stood in the cab of the chariot and protected the 'charioteer.'  Protocols such as 'shield-bearer of Pharaoh' or 'shield-bearer of his majesty' are common enough.  But our examples mainly date from the second half of Dynasty XIX and XX, and at this later period the title 'chief of the shield' bearer troops' also occurs, as does 'a man of the shield-bearer troops.'  And even after the fall of the New Kingdom terms such as 'shield-bearers and their superiors' also can be found.
    "A third term, Egyptian kedjen, is derived from the Akkadian guzu.  This word signifies the 'chariot driver.'  First mentioned in the reign of Thutmose III, the kedjen appears to have been originally the personal 'driver' of a very important official.  The designation 'first kedjen of his majesty' may be found dated to the reign of Amunhotep IV.  The simple kedjen's [SIC] of subaltern status are frequent enough from the reign of Seti I onward.  The word seneny as a title is unknown after the beginning of the reign of Ramesses II.  To be more precise, outside of literary texts or ones with a healthy literary flavoring, seneny disappeared as an official designation, and in the texts narrating the Battle of Kadesh under Ramesses II, seneny is apparently used as a synonym for 'shield-bearer.'  But how did all three terms connect with a chariot having only two men?
    "The diachronic evidence can be pieced together.  When the pictorial representations show the army on march, one of the chariot soldiers carries a shield and the second is the driver of the vehicle.  The kedjen is the man who conducts the vehicle and the qer'iu is the 'shield-bearer.'  In battle, they both were in the cab and therefore their roles changed somewhat.  The XVIIIth Dynasty knew only the seneny, 'charioteers,' whose superiors were the 'chiefs of charioteers,' and bore the rank of 'standard-bearers.'  It has been remarked that the texts of this period show no distinction between the two types of chariot soldiers: all were seneny.  From the Amarna Period of late Dynasty XVIII the term kedjen was introduced, and later in the Ramesside Period (Dynasties XIX-XX) it became commonplace.  By then these warriors were the most important men connected with the chariotry, with the less expert chariot men, or cadets, labeled as qer'iu.  (The medieval division between chevalier and Ecuyer has been proposed to render the later distinction.)  In the course of the Ramesside Period qer'iu was applied to the lower-level men of the chariotry and the old term seneny disappeared.  Such an evolution naturally implies an alteration within the military institution."

* Shaw 2019 p106
"The Egyptian chariot appeared as part of a process of military modernization at the beginning of the New Kingdom.  The Egyptians gained their knowledge of this technology from Canaan; threrefore, their principal terms for chariot (wrrytmrkbt and tprt) and for spans of chariot horses (ḥtrí) were Asiatic loan-words.  Early 18th-Dynasty Egyptian chariots appear to have been very similar to contemporary Canaanite vehicles, as demonstrated by the 'Florence chariot', a well-preserved surviving example dated to a little earlier than the reign of Tutankhamun (now in the collection of the National Archaeological Museum, Florence).  The chariot was of particular use to the Egyptians for its speed, as the vehicle could be utilized as a mobile platform for an archer, who would deliver harassing fire against the enemy infantry.  Rameses II's accounts of the battle of Qadesh suggest that chariots could also be used tactically to mount surprise attacks involving the outflanking of enemy infantry while it was on the march.  In the aftermath of battle, it is clear from texts and images that chariots could be used to transport living prisoners and the severed hands of enemy dead.  Amenhotep II, for instance, is said to have brought back 16 Mitannian prisoners, attached to the side of his chariot, with another inside the chariot, and also 20 severed hands hanging from his horses' heads -- although the physical logistics of this, for a standard Egyptian light chariot, seem to be rather formidable."

* Healy 1993 p39
"By the time of Qadesh the Egyptian chariot arm had a tradition of mobile warfare dating back nearly three hundred years.  Large and magnificently equipped, the distinctive design of the Egyptian vehicle had reached the height of its development.  Unlike its heavier Hittite contemporary the Egyptian chariot was designed above all for speed and manoeuvrability, its lightweight even delicate appearance disguising what was a very strong and robust vehicle.  Herein lay the key to its battlefield deployment.  Its offensive power lay not in its weight but in its capacity rapidly to turn, wheel and repeatedly charge, penetrating the enemy line and functioning as a mobile firing platform that afforded the 'seneny' or fighting crewman the opportunity to loose many arrows from his composite bow.  That tactic was to avoid, if possible, becoming embroiled at close-quarters where the Hittite vehicles with their three-man crews and long spears could dictate the combat.  It was without doubt the versatility of the chariotry that saved the day for Ramses at Qadesh.
    "Unlike their Hittite brethren the chariotry did not operate as a totally independent arm but were attached to the infantry corps.  By the time of Qadesh chariots were attached to a corps on the basis of 25 vehicles per company.  Not all of these were the heavier combat types, many lighter vehicles being retained for scouting and communications duties.  For combat, however, there was a hierarchy of organization wherein the chariots were deployed in troops of ten, squadrons of fifty and the larger unit called a pedjet, commanded by an officer with the title of 'Commander of a chariotry host' and numbering about 250 chariots."

* Partridge 1996 p105
"The New Kingdom Pharaohs and their army commanders were quick to realise the full potential of this method of transport.  Thutmose III (1504-1450 B.C.) the Pharaoh who pushed Egypt's boundaries further than any Pharaoh before or after him, rode in his chariot at the battle of Megiddo and was described as setting out 'on a chariot of fine gold.'
    "[...] The chariots were used as a swift-moving firing platform, from which arrows and javelins could be poured into the enemy.  They were especially effective when attacking a disorganized enemy or one which was fleeing the field-of-battle.  The use of chariots also greatly improved the means of communication during the confusion of battle and enabled the King to keep in touch with his commanders and the divisions of his army."


* Newman 1981 sv "Egyptian jewelry"
"After the decline under the Hyksos kings, the New Kingdom saw a revival of prosperity and the making of jewelry of the richest character, with polychrome decoration, as exemplified by the jewelry of the XVIIIth Dynasty (1552-1296 BC) and particularly the Tutankhamun jewelry.  The motifs of such jewelry were mainly symbols of deities, figures of animals (the vulture, hawk, asp, or cobra), or various symbols (e.g. shen, Djed pillar, uraeus, Menet bird, ankh, udjat eye).  Elaborate pendants, diadems, bracelets, head-dresses, pectorals, necklaces, bead collars, earrings, ear-studs, and anklets, as well as honorific decorations such as the plug and penannular ear-rings, were made, often of gold, decorated with enamelling and gemstones (especially of lapis lazuli, turquoise, cornelian [SIC], and sometimes amethyst, as well as coloured glass and Egyptian faience.  The scarab was used extensively in seals, finger rings, and amulets, spreading throughout the Mediterranean region."

* Calasibetta 1975 p167
"Egyptian collar Wide flat necklace made in ancient Egypt of beads, shells, seeds, faience, and semi-precious stones in various colors, sometimes mounted in gold, or of papyrus or fabric with geometrical lotus designs embroidered in colored wool."

* Fashion, Costume, & Culture Volume 1 2004 p38-39
"While the people of ancient Egypt mostly wore plain white linen clothing of simple design, this did not mean that they had no love of adornment.  Two of the most notable items of jewelry worn in ancient Egypt were collars and pectorals, both types of heavily jeweled necklaces.  Collars were created with beads made of glass, precious stones, gold, and a glazed pottery called faience.  These beads were strung on multiple strings of varying length that were then bound to a ring around the neck to make a wide, semi-circular collar that covered the shoulders and chest of the wearer with bright color.  Collars were also sometimes made by attaching beads, stones, and precious metals to a semicircle of fabric.  The pectoral was usually a large, flat breastplate made of gold or copper, often decorated with symbols and inlaid with precious stones or glass.  Pectorals were hung over the chest by a chain around the neck.  Both collars and pectorals were worn by men and women.
    "Egyptians who could afford it wore brightly colored jewelry to show their rank and importance in society, as well as their love of beauty.  Many items of jewelry served a spiritual purpose as well, by carrying images of the gods that protected the wearer.  Collars often had symbols of the gods carved into their large metal clasps or into the beads of the collar itself.  Pectorals were frequently adorned with symbolic pictures of gods and goddesses or were made in the shape of sacred symbols, such as winged scarab beetles or disks that represented the sun.  Pectorals were considered amulets, or good luck charms, and were sometimes awarded to loyal servants of the ruling pharaoh in return for services performed.  Elaborate jeweled collars and pectorals have frequently been found in the ruins of Egyptian tombs."


* Brooklyn Museum > Egypt
"The bow and arrow remained an Egyptian's most effective weapon. ... Archers shot from a stationary position or from the cab of a moving chariot as a skilled driver spurred on the horses."

* Healy 1993 p38-39
"The principal offensive weapon of the Rameside armies ... was the composite bow.  Employed in large numbers by the infantry and chariot arms, and fired singly or in volleys, it was a deadly weapon in the hands of a trained archer."

* Shaw 2019 p102-103
"The introduction of the composite bow was part of a striking change in military equipment that occurred at the beginning of the New Kingdom.  This modernization of the Egyptian army is usually attributed to the need to keep pace with the military innovations of neighbouring countries and prevent any reoccurrence of a Hyksos-style domination by foreigners, as had happened in the Second Intermediate Period.  Thte composite bow was made from a combination of materials (essentially strips of horn and sinew glued to a wooden self bow), thus producing a stronger, more elastic and more effective weapon; it came in two types -- recurved and triangular -- and had a considerably greater range than the self bow.  The main advantage of composite bows over self bows was their combination of smaller size with higher power, making them automatically more convenient than self bows in situations where the archer was mobile (e.g. on horseback or in a chariot).
    "Almost all composite bows are also recurve bows (i.e. the shape of the bow curves away from the archer), giving higher draw-weight in the early stages of the archer's draw, and thus maximizing total energy for a given final draw-weight.  The kinetic energy required to deliver acceleration to an arrow is determined by the draw work of the archer versus the elasticity of the bow.  The composite bow typically seems to have had a 40 lb (18 kg) draw, an average range of 100-180 metres.  This can be compared with modern compound bows, which have a maximum draw of around 70 lb (32 kg) and an (accurate) range of about 40 metres.
    "The arrow shaft had to be made of a light, straight material, usually reed or wood, and most arrow-heads were made from bone, ivory, wood, metal or flint.  Egyptian arrows have been found with or without fletching feathers at the end of the reed, although the addition of such a material clearly provided both accuracy and greater stability, and thus was probably widely utilized.  From the study of Egyptian ballistics it is clear that the arrows could be delivered with impressive force from the new style of bow, in some cases allowing them to penetrate thick bone, including the skull.  WIth the increased use of the composite bow and bronze arrowhead from the New Kingdom onwards, archery could pose an even more significant threat to opposing armies."


* Fashion, costume, & culture Volume 1 2004 p33
"Pharaohs are also depicted wearing a headdress known as the Blue Crown, or khepresh.  This tall crown was likely made of stiff linen or leather and spread up and back from the forehead six to eight inches.  It was blue, covered in small circular studs, and often had a carved uraeus, a sacred hooded cobra ornament, on the front and two long streamers hanging down the back."

* Fashion, costume, & culture  Volume 1 2004 p29-30
"Ancient Egyptian clothing remained relatively unchanged for over two thousand years, with one important exception: the introduction of the tunic, a simple garment that covered the upper body.  Egypt's hot climate meant that wearing clothing on the torso was not necessary, and throughout the Old Kingdom (c. 2700-c. 2000 B.C.E.) and the Middle Kingdom (c. 2000-c. 1500 B.C.E.) men dressed primarily in the schenti, or kilt, and sometimes with a skirt worn over the schenti.  At the beginning of the New Kingdom (c. 1500-c. 750 B.C.E.), however, Egypt conquered Syria.  Syrians were known for the quality of their weaving, and they helped introduce better cloth production, and the tunic, to Egypt.
    "At its most basic, the tunic was a long rectangular piece of fabric with a hole in the center for the head.  Its open sides could be secured with a belt, and it usually extended just past the waistline.  The tunic was usually worn with a schenti.  Under the Egyptians, however, tunic design became more detailed.  The sides were sewn together, forming short sleeves that were often starched so that they stuck outward, making the shoulders appear broad.  Like other linen garments, the tunic was decorated with pleats and folds and was usually bleached white."

* Cosgrove 2000 p19-20
"The introduction of two garments -- the tunic and the robe -- is thought to be a consequence of Egypt's conquest of Syria in the 15th century BC.  At that time, foreign weavers came and settled in Egypt (to such an extent that the term Syrian became synonymous with weaver).  As a result, sophisticated weaving techniques were introduced to the country thus allowing for better textile production.  The tunic -- resembling a short sleeved nightshirt -- could be worn over the schenti.  The long robe was complicated in form and made from a piece of cloth approximately twice as long as the intended wearer's height.  It had a wide neckline and, because it was so full, had wide sleeves while the skirt was gathered at the waist.  The robe has been considered the most unusual style worn by the Egyptians.  There was also a garment consisting of a piece of cloth draped over the shoulder and kept in place by a fibula -- a brooch-style fastener."


* Darnell/Manassa 2007 p76
"The primary long-bladed weapon of New Kingdom Egypt is the khepesh, a slashing implement with a curved bronze blade. Often called a 'sickle sword,' the cutting edge of a khepesh is along the outside edge, as with a scimitar. The khepesh blade -- wedgelike in cross section -- widens considerably to the back, and the weapon functioned as a type of long and relatively thin ax. The Egyptians employed different sizes of khepesh swords, suited to a range of battlefield uses: the larger and heavier khepesh swords, like the 'great khepesh' from the tomb of Tutankhamun, would have been useful for opening gaps in enemy armor and creating blunt-trauma injuries; Tutankhamun's smaller and less curved scimitar possessed a much sharper blade that would be effective in thrusting and cutting at lightly armored enemies. A leather loop attached to a ring at the end of the khepesh's handle could be worn around the wrist in case the weapon slipped during battle."

* Healy/McBride 1992 p15 caption
"[The khopesh] was named for its similarity to the foreleg of an animal, and, obviously, was used as a slashing weapon. Reliefs from the time of Ramasses III show such weapons being employed to decapitate Sea People prisoners. They were extensively used by the Egyptian army throughout the New Kingdom."

* Stone 1934 p354
"KHROBI, KHOPSH, KOPIS. An ancient Egyptian sword with a sickle-shaped, double-edged blade [CONTRA Shaw 2019 p98-99]. A very similar weapon is still used in the Congo." [reference omitted]

* Withers/Capwell 2010 p352
"The sickle sword, or khepesh, was a distinctive curved sword that was adopted from the Hyksos ('Sea Peoples')[,][SIC -- Hyksos were different from Sea Peoples] invaders from Palestine, in the 17th century BC. It was used as an infantry weapon and, because of its extremely curved blade, was primarily a chopping sword. It was also the favoured weapon of Egyptian Pharoahs."

​* Shaw 2019 p98-99
"The most specialized form of sword was the khepesh (ḫpš), a scimitar-like weapon with a curved blade modelled on an Asiatic form that first appeared in the Middle Bronze Age and is also known as a 'curved sword' or 'sickle sword'.  The sharpened edge of the khepesh was on the inside of the curvature [CONTRA Stone 1934 p354], making it particularly useful for hacking motions.  The manufacturing techniques required to produce this weapon were probably adopted from Middle Bronze Age Syria-Palestine; however, direct imports of this weapon, through trade or tribute, may also have occurred, as the example found in the tomb of Tutankhamun demonstrates.  The first Egyptian textual reference to a khepesh sword occurs in one of the stelae erected by the 17th-Dynasty ruler Kamose in Karnak temple, c.1550 BC, and the first image of the sickle sword in an Egyptian context appears in the tomb of Menkheperrasoneb, dating to the reign of Thutmose III (c. 1479-1425 BC) where it forms part of a scene of items of tribute arriving into the Egyptian court from Syria.
    "The khepesh -- averaging between 40 and 65 cm in length -- was widely used by the Egyptian army in the 19th Dynasty, when it is frequently depicted in the hands of soldiers at the battle of Qadesh (c.1274 BC).  The northern exterior wall of the 20th-Dynasty mortuary temple of Ramesses III (Mendinet Habu) is decorated with episodes from the war against the Sea Peoples (c.1174 BC), including a scene showing khepesh swords and various other weapons being allocated to the soldiers.  This type of sword is also frequently featured as the principal hand-weapon wielded by Ramesside rulers in royal smiting and chariot scenes.  In the smiting scenes it usually replaces the mace as the favoured weapon in scenes of royal victory and domination.  Some depictions, such as those on two of the temple pylons at Karnak, show the sword being ceremonially presented to the king by the gods Amun or Montu.  This ritual link is no doubt connected with the fact that the shape of the sword resembles the foreleg of an ox, which the Egyptians also knew as khepesh.  Decoration in the interior of the chariot of Thutmose IV ... shows Montu presenting a khepesh sword to the king and stating, 'I have given to you the khepesh and bravery in order to trample the bowmen in their places.'"