Author Topic: Esarhaddon in Egypt: An Assyrian-Egyptian battle scene on glazed tiles  (Read 2711 times)

Duncan Head

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Nigel Tallis has posted on the new groups.io dbmmlist a link to this 100-page article of which he is co-author:

Esarhaddon in Egypt: An Assyrian-Egyptian battle scene on glazed tiles from Nimrud

Assyrian and Libyan-Egyptian soldiers, and "the unique depiction of a tower house, a type of building that only emerged in Egypt around 660 BC". This will take a while to read, but looks superb.

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Patrick Waterson

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Re: Esarhaddon in Egypt: An Assyrian-Egyptian battle scene on glazed tiles
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2019, 06:28:17 PM »
Thank you for spotting this, Duncan: I do wonder why the captives are identifed as 'Libyan' when Esarhaddon was as far as I know campaigning exclusively against Ethiopian opponents, especialy as no specifically 'Ethiopian' (Kussim) figures are deemed to appear on the tiles.

Of particular interest from my own standpoint is that 'Ramesside' battle scenes reflect a feature or features which are "only evident in Assyrian art towards the end of the 7th century BC".  The match is actually less exact than this suggests, because the author is referring to the 670 BC end of the century not the 610 BC end, but is intriguingly indicative.
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Duncan Head

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Re: Esarhaddon in Egypt: An Assyrian-Egyptian battle scene on glazed tiles
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2019, 08:58:29 AM »
Well, the paper does discuss these figures in the context of earlier Egyptian depictions of Libyans:

Quote
Usually, these prisoners have been interpreted as Egyptians, but in Egyptian art only Nubians and Libyans wear feathers on their heads. Nubians are in general shown with a dark skin colour, while Libyans are depicted with a yellow skin,

So while it's not stated explicitly, I suspect these figures just aren't shown dark enough to be Kushites.
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Duncan Head

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Re: Esarhaddon in Egypt: An Assyrian-Egyptian battle scene on glazed tiles
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2019, 06:41:40 PM »
Someone's clearly mentioned this discussion to Nigel, for he says on dbmmlist:

Quote from: Nigel Tallis
The king is represented noticeably larger than other humans in Assyrian art "towards the end of the 7th century BC”, being most obvious in the reign of Ashurbanipal. We make this point because it occurs after the conquest of Egypt, following direct official contact with Egyptian monumental art and the large-scale influx of Egyptian specialists and craftsmen into Assyria as described by Esarhaddon. There are minor isolated Egyptian influences in Assyrian relief art before this, related to the “international style” of Egyptianising art widespread in many forms in the Near East since the Bronze Age. We would suspect that Egyptian artists had a lot to do with producing the Til-Tuba reliefs in the SW palace.
 
We explain the identification of the Libyan soldiers on p. 15 (paragraph 2).

(P.15's the passage I already cited.)
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Patrick Waterson

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Re: Esarhaddon in Egypt: An Assyrian-Egyptian battle scene on glazed tiles
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2019, 10:10:49 PM »
Thanks, Duncan.

Not sure how the Ethiopian pharaoh would be fielding Libyan but not Ethiopian (Nubian) soldiery for the Assyrians to capture, and I would be inclined to allow some latitude for colour variation owing to different glazing materials and techniques (the figures anyway look more brown than yellow to me), so still unconvinced these could be Libyans. I am sure even Assyrian artists would take the trouble to depict the characteristic Libyan hairstyle and beard.

Quote
The king is represented noticeably larger than other humans in Assyrian art "towards the end of the 7th century BC”, being most obvious in the reign of Ashurbanipal. We make this point because it occurs after the conquest of Egypt, following direct official contact with Egyptian monumental art and the large-scale influx of Egyptian specialists and craftsmen into Assyria as described by Esarhaddon.

And hence before the oversized pharaoh appears on Egyptian reliefs, if one follows the revised chonology.  The only pre-Nineteenth Dynasty battle scene I know of is British Museum Papyrus EA 74100 (the fragmentary Amarna papyrus depicting Egyptians being defeated by a combination of Egyptians, Libyans and Mycenaean Greeks), and that (such as it is) lacks any hint of an oversized pharaoh.  Now absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence, but I cannot help noticing that the first actual oversize pharaohs seem to be those of the 19th Dynasty, aka 26th Dynasty under the revised chronology, time period 664-525 BC, i.e. post-Esarhaddon.

Not disputing that Egyptian art may well have influenced Assyrian, but on the basis of what we have this particular feature seems to have been the other way around.
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Duncan Head

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Re: Esarhaddon in Egypt: An Assyrian-Egyptian battle scene on glazed tiles
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2019, 10:35:54 PM »
Not sure how the Ethiopian pharaoh would be fielding Libyan but not Ethiopian (Nubian) soldiery for the Assyrians to capture, and I would be inclined to allow some latitude for colour variation owing to different glazing materials and techniques (the figures anyway look more brown than yellow to me), so still unconvinced these could be Libyans. I am sure even Assyrian artists would take the trouble to depict the characteristic Libyan hairstyle and beard.

We don't know that he did field "Libyan but not Ethiopian (Nubian) soldiery", just that there are apparent Libyans in these fragments of tile. The skin colour, whether yellow or brown, seems to the the same as that of the Assyrians, and much lighter than I'd expect Kushites to be depicted.

As for the "characteristic" Libyan hairstyle, I'm not sure how we would know what was characteristic in the 7th century; it might well not have been the same as the earlier styles discussed in the paper for comparison. In the 6th century the Persepolis artists depict Libyans with fairly simple shortish hair, and according to Herodotos, different Libyan peoples had quite different hairstyles by the 5th century. For instance his Maxyes, who "wear their hair long on the right side of their heads and shave the left" are not so far off these chaps with heads shaved except for the "tassel" or sidelock on one side.
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Patrick Waterson

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Re: Esarhaddon in Egypt: An Assyrian-Egyptian battle scene on glazed tiles
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2019, 09:29:05 AM »
We don't know that he did field "Libyan but not Ethiopian (Nubian) soldiery", just that there are apparent Libyans in these fragments of tile. The skin colour, whether yellow or brown, seems to the the same as that of the Assyrians, and much lighter than I'd expect Kushites to be depicted.

Let us for the sake of argument grant this; our problem then becomes why the Assyrians have ended up with no actual Kushite (Ethiopian/Nubian) captives in a war against an Ethiopian (Kushite/Nubian) opponent.

There is the secondary question of what the Libyans, traditional opponents of the Ethiopians (Nubians/Kushites) since the days of Piankhi (Paiankh/Piankhy/Paankhi/Paanchi/Piye), would have been doing fighting for them.  We can speculate that they may have been tributary delta princes of Libyan descent plus their remaining soldiery, but, from an Assyrian point of view, why depict a victory over the monkey when you have beaten the organ grinder?
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Duncan Head

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Re: Esarhaddon in Egypt: An Assyrian-Egyptian battle scene on glazed tiles
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2019, 09:33:37 AM »
Let us for the sake of argument grant this; our problem then becomes why the Assyrians have ended up with no actual Kushite (Ethiopian/Nubian) captives in a war against an Ethiopian (Kushite/Nubian) opponent.

Because we only have a few tile fragments which are not obliged to be typical of an entire enemy army.
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Re: Esarhaddon in Egypt: An Assyrian-Egyptian battle scene on glazed tiles
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2019, 09:36:12 AM »
Quote
the 19th Dynasty, aka 26th Dynasty under the revised chronology

Given the issues we had with Egyptian chronology, it may help to be clear which of several revised chronologies you are using here.  I'm guessing this is the Waterson/Velikovsky chronology?

Quote
Maxyes, who "wear their hair long on the right side of their heads and shave the left"

Early Human League fans?





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Re: Esarhaddon in Egypt: An Assyrian-Egyptian battle scene on glazed tiles
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2019, 10:08:32 AM »
Let us for the sake of argument grant this; our problem then becomes why the Assyrians have ended up with no actual Kushite (Ethiopian/Nubian) captives in a war against an Ethiopian (Kushite/Nubian) opponent.

Because we only have a few tile fragments which are not obliged to be typical of an entire enemy army.

Valid point.  My next thought is that, on the assumption that the Ethiopians are on now-lost tiles (assuming of course that any Ethiopians were actually taken in this particular campaign), why identify the captives in question as Libyans rather than native Egyptians?

In particular, might we identify these unfortunates as Egyptian youths, given the Egyptian custom of shaving the head except for, in the case of youths, a sidelock?
  • Patrick Waterson
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Patrick Waterson

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Re: Esarhaddon in Egypt: An Assyrian-Egyptian battle scene on glazed tiles
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2019, 10:27:56 AM »
Quote
the 19th Dynasty, aka 26th Dynasty under the revised chronology

Given the issues we had with Egyptian chronology, it may help to be clear which of several revised chronologies you are using here.  I'm guessing this is the Waterson/Velikovsky chronology?

Yes, Velikovsky's, with refinements.  The others tend to have some useful revelations but also terminal problems at some point,

It may help if I list the Nineteenth (aka 26th) Dynasty Pharaohs along with their names in Greek literature.

Ramses I = Necho I (664 BC)
Seti I = Psammetichus (663-610 BC)
Ramses II = Necho II (610-c.580 BC - he actually makes it easy for us by calling his new capital Pi-Ramesse-Nekaa)
Siptah = Psammis (c.580-575 BC)
Merneptah = Apries (c.575-560 BC - last five or so years with Amenmesse*)
Amenmesse = Amasis (c.560-525 BC - dual-ruling with Merneptah for about five years previously*)
Seti II = Psammenitus (525-522 BC, the last two years under the Persians until his revolt)

*Not a co-regency so much as Amenmesse's reluctance to eliminate a full-blooded pharaoh.

Velikovsky places Seti II at the beginning of the dynasty owing to a misinterpretation of the 'Tale of Three Brothers' - the tale actually refers to Thutmose III.  I am grateful to Johnny Zwick for helping to establish the actual order of Nineteenth Dynasty pharaohs and their corresponding Greek identities.
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Duncan Head

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Re: Esarhaddon in Egypt: An Assyrian-Egyptian battle scene on glazed tiles
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2019, 09:24:17 AM »
My next thought is that, on the assumption that the Ethiopians are on now-lost tiles (assuming of course that any Ethiopians were actually taken in this particular campaign), why identify the captives in question as Libyans rather than native Egyptians?

That is discussed in the paper. At least one other figure is identified as an Egyptian, the casualty in the river. The main argument for identifyinig the prisoners as non-Egyptian seems to be the head feather, since the paper points out that these are worn by Libyans and Nubians in Egyptian art. Also, though I don't think it is explicitly linked, the patterned kilts could be non-Egyptian - the Egyptian river guy mentioned wears plain white - and reminiscent of the patterned garments worn by Libyans in art as early, IIRC, as the Middle Kingdom.
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Andreas Johansson

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Re: Esarhaddon in Egypt: An Assyrian-Egyptian battle scene on glazed tiles
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2019, 10:05:13 AM »
The skin colour, whether yellow or brown, seems to the the same as that of the Assyrians, and much lighter than I'd expect Kushites to be depicted.
Given the limited palette used, I'm not sure if much store should be put in their apparent complexion. Do we have any comparable depictions of Kushites to compare with?
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