Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1458BC NKEg. nakhtu-aa
Subjectnakhtu-aa heavy infantryman
Culture: New Kingdom Egyptian
Setting: imperial warfare, Egypt 1570-1085BC
Evolution2055BC Middle Kingdom nakhtu-aa > 1458BC New Kingdom nakhtu-aa

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

* Ellacott 1965 p14
"The empire won by the Egyptian soldier had its beginnings under the Pharaoh Thutmose III, who ruled for about fifty years from 1500 B.C.  He wa the first great general, and under his direction the small standing army that had been maintained during the earlier years was greatly expanded.  A system was devised by which units employing different weapons were trained in co-operation.  Some groups were composed of mercenaries, who were paid in goods instead of being awarded land."

* Healy 1993 p38
"It is the 'nakhtu-aa' who are most frequently illustrated on Egyptian reliefs.  These were the infantry known colloquially as the 'strong arm boys', specialists in close-quarters fighting and variously equipped with weaponry, shield and rudimentary body armor."


* Darnell/Manassa 2007 p81-82
"Quilted and leather protection for the torso appears during the New Kingdom, usually in the form of bands wrapped around the chest and over one shoulder.  In some cases infantry soldiers could wear a jerkin with overlapping metal or leather scales, but such armor appears only rarely in Egyptian texts and depictions.  Tutankhamun was buried with a cuirass composed of numerous thick leather scales, a more practical version of the elaborate corselet, made to look like overlapping wings of a protective falcon that pharaohs often wear in combat scenes."

* Healy 1993 p31 caption
"Egyptian heavy infantryman.  Throughout the New Kingdom, the Egyptian army was built around a core of long-service heavy infantry, as shown here.  While this grizzled and battle-hardened 'menfyt' carries the same weaponry of bronze khopesh sword and spear that typified most New Kingdom infantry, his appearance is that of a 19th Dynasty trooper and thus represents the heavy infantry found in four corps of Amun, P'Re, Sutekh (Set) and Ptah at the Battle of Qadesh.  Distinctive 19th Dynasty features include the strengthened headdress, the stiffened linen-padded body armour and large oval-shaped groin guard."


* 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.  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."


* Darnell/Manassa 2007 p83
"Most New Kingdom shields were constructed of wood, either painted or covered by an animal skin; they were flat at the bottom, and provided protection from the shoulders to the hip.  Shields could be flat or convex (like the Roman scutum) on the outer face, and some were provided with a metal boss near the center.  The shape of the New Kingdom shield was a compromise between a defensive shield and a one suitable for use as a pushing weapon in compressing a line of enemy infantry.  New Kingdom soldiers in mêlées and on the march often appear with shields slung over their shoulders with a diagonal strap, the shields thereby protecting their backs and necks while freeing both hands.  Shields also could be provided with a loop on the outer edge."


* Darnell/Manassa 2007 p76-77
"Soldiers carried daggers of various lengths, to use as weapon of last resort, and in the removal of a hand -- or the phallus of an uncircumcised foe -- from each slain enemy.  This practice, well attested from the New Kingdom, allowed an accurate estimate of enemy casualties.  In an unusual scene from battle reliefs of Tutankhamun, three Egyptian soldiers carry three hands each skewered on their spears.  Tutankhamun was buried with two daggers; his gold-bladed dagger was certainly a ceremonial weapon, but the other dagger was a more practical, iron-bladed weapon.  Ironworking did not become widespread until after 1100 B.C.E., making Tutankhamun's iron blade an unusual object.  According to the Amarna Letters, the king of Mitanni gave Amunhotep III several iron objects, including a dagger and a mace, as bridal gifts."

* Hatshepsut 2005 p252 (Renee Dreyfus, "Metalwork" p235-254)
"The evolution of this form based on an earlier model demonstrates the pride of the New Kingdom Thebans, who, after ousting the Hyksos from their land, looked to their past glories for artistic inspiration."


* Darnell/Manassa 2007 p75-76
"One of the most common weapons of the New Kingdom soldier was the ax.  Although the use of the ax as a weapon is as old as the Predynastic Period, the shape of ax blades changed throughout Egyptian history. ...  During the New Kingdom, the standard shape for Egyptian axes is a long, roughly rectangular blade, convex on the cutting edge, with slightly concave sides.  ..."Although an effective weapon, the ax requires a soldier to use a hacking or swinging motion, and the soldier poised to bring down his ax would at that moment be vulnerable to a thrusting attack below the raised arm.  Infantry armed with axes often carry both a spear and a shield in the other hand, and the new King Egyptian infantry would consequently have resembled in armament the Saxon forces at the Battle of Hastings.  In the absence of a sword with a handle cast as one piece with the blade, a penetrating ax blade attached to a resilient wooden handle would have been the most effective slashing weapon in the Egyptian arsenal.  Axes could also function as ceremonial weapons and insignia, and the ax of the warrior queen Ahhotep made of precious materials; some axes, perhaps ceremonial as well, can have elaborate cutout designs in the blade."

* Ellacott 1965 p15
"Some of the small axes had straight handles, hooked at the end for hanging in the girdle, while others were curved to give greater force to the blow.  All blades were made of copper or bronze, with edges hardened by hammering.  A drawback of the personal system of supply was that the Egyptian forces could not have standardized equipment."​


* Darnell/Manassa 2007 p74
"[The mace] underwent some modifications during the New Kingdom, with smiting scenes often adding a blade to the mace.  This strange composite weapon may have been a new application for a primitive device, the stone macehead transmitting extra force to a bronze blade.  The added force would enable a bronze blade to penetrate the increasingly common body armor of the late second millennium B.C.E., in a time prior to the common use of tempered iron as a metal for bladed weapons."  


* Darnell/Manassa 2007 p82
"New Kingdom soldiers probably did wear sandals on the march, but may have divested themselves of such during actual combat; constant marching and training without footwear can lead to remarkably thickened foot soles. Curiously, even though a type of leg wrapping similar to military puttees common in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries C.E. is known from the New Kingdom, appearing at least once in an Amarna tomb scene, no such shin protectors appear in a clearly military context."