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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 2014 | TTh 1:00-2:20pm | RI Hall 108

Instructor: Laurel Bestock | Office Hours: Monday 2.30-4.30pm and by appointment, Rhode Island Hall 209
Teaching Assistant: Jessica Tomkins| Office Hours: Tuesday 3-5pm, Wilbour Hall 303 
Teaching Assistant: Ian Randall| Office Hours: Friday 2.30-4.30pm, Rhode Island Hall TA Room, Basement 

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 an historical Egyptian battle, staged on the Main Green.


Document IconWarfare syllabus 2014 (updated).docx

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

Important Dates

Feb 25: First exam
March 13: First personal update due
March 20: Second personal update due
April 1: Committee postings to wiki re: battle bibliography and outline
April 3: Third Second personal update due; Committee presentations begin  
April 10: Fourth personal update due; Committee presentations continue  
April 15: Battle reconstruction 
April 24: Second exam   


(Password protected: click on the link at the top left of this webpage labeled "Readings")

Lecture Slides

Slides from class will be posted here, but also use these pages to post thoughts, comments, and questions on that week's topics.  Check back each week!

1.What is War?

Feb 4: Predynastic Warfare

Feb 6: Iconography of Predynastic Warfare

Feb. 11: Old Kingdom Warfare

Feb. 13: Old Kingdom Warfare (cont.)

Feb. 20: Topics in Middle Kingdom Warfare

Mid-Term Review

Feb. 27: Warfare in the Second Intermediate Period

March 4: New Kingdom Warfare

March 6: New Kingdom Warfare (cont.)

Committees: Roles and Deliverables

Kadesh Images

Warfare in the 18th Dynasty: Post-Megiddo

1st Millennium War

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