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ARCH 1630: Fighting Pharaohs: Ancient Egyptian Warfare

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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World | Spring Semester 2010 | TTh 1:00-2:20pm | CIT Room 165

Instructor: Laurel Bestock | Office Hours: Thursday 3-5pm, Rhode Island Hall 209
Teaching Assistant: Carrie Swan | Office Hours: Tuesday 3-5pm, Rhode Island Hall 016

Course Description

This class will provide a survey of the Egyptian military from ca. 3000 B.C. through the decline of the Egyptian empire, ca. 1000 B.C. When and why did the ancient Egyptians engage in war? Who was fighting, and whom were they fighting? What weapons did they use and what were their military strategies? What were the political situations that caused them to go to war? How did warfare and soldiery impact Egyptian society? What were the ideological and religious implications of warfare? In studying Egyptian history and society through the pervasive motif of war, we will gain an understanding of the forces that shaped Egyptian culture, and how Egypt responded to these forces over its lengthy history.

The study of ancient warfare requires the utilization of several different types of evidence, and questioning these types of evidence will be a key goal of this class. In particular, written records, artistic records, burials of soldiers, and battlefield archaeology often present pictures that are notably at odds. By asking how each type of record was created and, in the case of written and artistic evidence, why and for whom it was created, we will come to a better understanding of not only what happened but also how it was used and manipulated by the ancient Egyptians. Because many of these issues are of general concern to archaeologists approaching the topic of war, we will look at the anthropology of ancient war simultaneously with our focus on Egypt. In addition to learning to critically evaluate different types of sources, students in this class will hone their discussion skills and their research and writing skills. The research component of the class will conclude in a large-scale reconstruction of the 13th century BC battle of Kadesh fought between the Egyptians and the Hittites, staged on the Main Green.


(Please refer to the Readings and Committees pages for updated information about due dates/readings!)

Document IconARCH 1630 - Egyptian Warfare syllabus.doc

Changes in schedule due to battle needs:

Apr. 6 in class: Late 18th Dynasty warfare and diplomacy, including Amarna Period
midnight (technically 12am on April 7th): second personal update due, e-mailed to me and Carrie

Apr. 8 in class: we will meet on the quiet green. Each committee will give a 5-8 minute presentation of what the scope of their work is, what they have done so far, and with what other committees they need to coordinate. We will then start walking the ground, with relevant committees telling us a) what order things will happen and b) where things will happen. We’ll be figuring this out as we go.

Apr. 13 in class: Ramesside warfare pre- and post-Kadesh
midnight: third personal update due, e-mailed

Apr. 15 in class: meet on the quiet green (volunteers invited?) to actually walk through the battle, discuss what else needs to be done


Apr. 22 in class: wrap up Ramesside warfare; discuss the battle and what we’ve learned, what should change for future classes undertaking the same project

Apr. 27 in class: post-New Kingdom warfare and course wrap

Apr. 29 in class: 2nd exam

May 4 midnight: last personal update due


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Reconstructing the Battle of Kadesh

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