April 19, 2012

The further campaigns of Ramses III

The further campaigns of Ramses III
For three years Egypt was quiet. Then came trouble on the western borders, again with the Libyans, allied with the Meshwesh and five other tribes. There had been a slight infiltration by immigrants into the area west of the Canopic arm of the Nile for some years, but in Year 11 it came to a head with an invasion. The frontier forts took the brunt of it as the invaders attempted to overrun the Delta. Once more Ramses crushed all opposition. The attackers left over 2000 dead, and their cattle and possessions were rich booty for the treasury of Amun. The campaign details occur on the inner wall, north side, of the First Pylon at Medinet Habu.

At one point army scribes come before pharaoh with a tally of the enemy dead, represented by a pile of severed right hands, and the number above them, 175. Ramses seems to have questioned the figure. The scribes had to recheck. The next register explains how they did it - by cutting off the phalluses of the uncircumcised enemy, shown piled on the ground with the number above them, 175. The numbers tallied, the accountants are always right!

Ramses III Statue
Other campaigns are mentioned in the inscriptions in the mortuary temple at Medinet Habu. Some of the scenes, however, are suspect.

Ramses is depicted in a Nubian campaign which finds no other mention and would be highly unlikely in view of the subordination of that area. Other scenes show the king invading territories to the north, going into the country of the Amurru, Khatti and Syrians, none of whom existed any longer as political entities. These reliefs seem in fact to be copies of earlier ones from a building of Ramses II. Ramses III is merely modelling himself on his illustrious predecessor who, despite their proximity in numerical sequence, was unrelated to him.

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