Sunday, 13 May 2012

Persian Era Egyptians

It's been a long time since I've posted, so something quite quick...

A good while back, I bought a few packs of Xyston Egyptian spearmen largely because I liked the look of them rather than any hope that they'd be a worthwhile addition to a Persian army. They had sat in the lead mountain for a couple of years but I thought I'd try and get them painted in time for the Plataea Society of Ancients game.
As it turned out, I didn't get them done in time but as they were nearly finished I carried on with them rather than add them to the nearly-finished-but-not-ready-to-put-on-the-table pile.

This is how they turned out.

The figures are a straight rendition of the reconstruction in Duncan Head's Achaemenid book.
 Much of this is based on the description in Herodotus
"The Egyptians furnished two hundred ships. Their crews had plaited helmets upon their heads, and bore concave shields with rims of unusual size. They were armed with spears suited for a sea-fight, and with huge pole-axes. The greater part of them wore breastplates; and all had long cutlasses. " http://www.parstimes.com/history/herodotus/persian_wars/polymnia.html

There is also the description in Xenophon's Cyropaedia (7.33) which describes the use of long spears and large shields which they lock together as they advance on the Persians. The whole passage has many suspect features but some of what he writes may represent Egyptian practice in his own day.

The shape of the shield may have been the inspiration for Assyrian shields, replacing their earlier large roud shields. They certainly resemble earlier Egyptian shields though greatly enlarged. Alternatively the Egyptians may have adopted an Assyrian shield which resembled their own earlier shields; sort of convergent evolution.

The same  figures would probably be suitable for Saitic Egyptians - the 26th to 30th dynasties - though finding matching figures might be a problem. One of the reasons I painted the shields in different ways was to be able to pick out Guard infantry if I ever decided to expand the force.

I also wanted to try out different styles of shield. One pair of elements have a basic rawhide look but these have the traditional spotted cowskin look as was traditional in earlier times.

As for the men's skin, I did use a darker tone than usual but the photos make them look lighter than they are. When I did my New Kingdom Egyptians I found it difficult to get a tone I was happy with.

Coincidentally, two recent TMP threads on Egyptians are useful, with links to pictures of Egyptian cowskin and to the way that the Ancient Egyptians showed their own skin colour

6 comments:

Engel said...

Great unit. Lovely shields.
Nice to see you post again.

fireymonkeyboy said...

The cowhide shields look fantastic!

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

That's a fantastic paint job

I meant to get a couple of packs of Xyston Egyptians for my Achaeemnid Persians but never to my shame got round to it

Maybe there is still time yet ;)

Monty said...

I really like these shields, especially the cow's hide. Good back story on a period/army I know almost nothing about.

El Senyor Verd said...

Great painting and brilliant shields.

Phil said...

Absolutly wonderful! Love the shields!