(ORDO NEWS) — When you need an easy way to keep track of how many enemies you’ve destroyed, hard evidence is key. And what better proof than a basket full of human hands?
This is not the only way the ancient Egyptians counted the number of dead invaders. It is known that they also cut off something else. Want to know what? Well, I’ll tell you at the end. I’ll even show you a picture.
III, not II
You must have heard of Ramses II, right? The great, amazing pharaoh of ancient Egypt. He reigned for 66 years, had about 100 children. Very famous.
But it’s not him.
This is Ramess III, the first in a series of kings who tried to cash in on someone else’s name.
Ramess III was the last of the great kings of Ancient Egypt. Let’s just call him “III” so as not to repeat this name. He reigned a few decades after II and witnessed a severe decline in the power and influence of Ancient Egypt.
But it wasn’t his fault. In fact, he helped slow this decline. Change seemed inevitable, but he fought to contain it. Eventually, one of his wives led a plot that ended with his toe cut off and his throat slit. But that’s another story…
III was king in a troubled time: during the infamous collapse of the Bronze Age, when civilizations across the region began to disappear one by one. There are many theories about the reasons for this, but as far as we know, it was due to a huge number of intrusions.
The Libyans attacked more than once, and, of course, there was an attack by the mysterious “peoples of the sea” from the Mediterranean. In the battle with them, the troops of the III lined up along the banks of the Nile Delta with archers, showering enemy ships with arrows.
When they tried to land on the shore, they were blocked by stakes set in the water. The fleet captured their ships with grappling hooks and defeated them in hand-to-hand combat.
All these battles drained the treasury. Eventually, the first ever recorded labor strike took place under III, as its people grew tired of not being fed.
History recognizes the merits of III, although it was the beginning of a long decline. It took about a thousand years before Egypt was finally defeated by Rome.
Opposite the modern city of Luxor is the temple-tomb of Ramses III, often called Medinet Habu. From here you can throw a stone and get into the Valley of the Kings. True, for this you need to be very strong.
It is rarely visited, but it is a gem. There is an area at the back where the paint still sticks to the walls and columns and is well worth a visit.
But the part we’re talking about right now is in the front, the part that says “I’m cool.”
This was a common thing for any king and for everyone who had money. Even the tombs built by the nobles were covered with inscriptions boasting of their accomplishments.
In addition to the typical depictions of the king grabbing captives by the head and then crushing their skulls with a mace, you will find detailed descriptions of III’s battles with the Libyans.
Today, most people know Libyans for ruthlessly shooting a scientist in a parking lot after he sold them a bomb casing filled with pinball machine parts.
As for the ancient Libyans, we do not know much. We know that they had occasional conflicts with the ancient Egyptians, and we have an idea of what they looked like from how they were portrayed by other cultures.
Libyans attacked Egypt: twice. Possibly due to the collapse of the Bronze Age and the battles for resources. After all, the Egyptians were pretty well off with their river and soil and all that.
Anyway, III kicked their asses. In any case, this is how he claims on his temple:
“… robbers who daily ravaged Egypt, but were thrown under my feet. Their root was cut off … Their feet forever stopped trampling Egypt.”
Give him a hand
There is a long tradition of the ancient Egyptians to cut off the hands of their dead enemies. Not only to present them to the king as proof of victory, but also so that individual warriors deserve praise.
Hundreds of years before the 3rd century, there was a very gifted soldier in Egypt named Ahmose. Remember I said that people boasted in their tombs? This man left a whole autobiography in his tomb.
“His Majesty made a great massacre among them, and I brought booty from there: two living people and three hands. Then they again rewarded me with gold and gave me two female slaves.”
Ahmose tells of campaigns against the Nubians in the south. He says he killed several people, brought their hands to the king, and was rewarded for his hard work.
“I went at them like a lion. I threshed them, turned them into sheaves. I pursued them like a divine falcon that saw small birds in a hole … I threw down their souls, I deprived them of their strength, my heat burned their villages.”
There are many more, but you get the gist.
Many of the characters in the photo I posted are numbers: you can see the upside down “U” – that’s the number ten.
“Total hands: 12,535”
Obviously, there is a lot of debate about whether this is an exaggeration or not. But the meaning is clear: Ramess III is damn cool. He will completely destroy you, and then he will count your severed hands to find out how many of you he has destroyed. That’s how cool he is. He is cool, his temple is cool, Egypt is cool.
And that brings us to the end. I hope you enjoyed… oh, right. I almost forgot one more thing:
“Total phalluses: 12,535”
Yes. They didn’t just cut off their hands, they cut off their limbs. They then brought piles of thousands of members and presented them to Ramses III.
It is important to note that some say that cutting off body parts was also done in order to deprive enemies of power in the afterlife.
Remember, the ancient Egyptians mummified bodies because after death they were used anyway. Theoretically, Libyans could roam the area without penises and right hands. Which would be very annoying.
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