Africa's History in Water Crafts, Canoes 2 Ships Oct 2, 2010 16:50:50 GMT -5 anastasiaescrava likes this
Post by Dawn2Earth on Oct 2, 2010 16:50:50 GMT -5
(Ijaw war boats.)
Here's a little something on the topic:
THE WAR FLEET
IN THE EIGHTH YEAR OF THE REIGN OF RAMESSES III-APPROXIMATELY 1178 B.C.--Egypt came face to face with disaster. The enemy confronting her seemed invincible. Already, this adversary had destroyed much of the civilized world. The Hittites, Amorites, and Cypriots had crumbled with hardly a fight. Egypt alone remained unconquered. And now the enemy was massing for the attack.
To this day, we do not know who the invaders were or where they came from. We do know, however, that they possessed one crucial advantage over their victims - sea power. Their mighty armada descended without warning on one defenseless coastline after another. They could attack and withdraw at will, for their huge numbers, fast ships, and nautical skills had given them command of the seas. For that reason, the Egyptians called them Peoples of the Sea.
"No country has been able to withstand their might," says an Egyptian inscription of the time. "The land
The only hints we have as to the identity of these people are a few puzzling syllables recorded on the enclosure walls of Ramesses III's funerary temple at Medinet Habu. The inscription tells us that they were not one people, but many, banded together in a conspiracy: "as for the foreign conutries, they made a conspiracey in their islands. All at once the lands were on the move, scattered in war ... a camp was set up in Amur [Syria].... Their league was Prst, Tkr, Shklsh, Dnn and Wshsh." (Bernal 1987, p. 446)
Prst, Tkr, Shklsh, Dnn, and Wshsh. These are thet names of the Sea People. But they might as well be written in code. As usual, we are confounded by the vowel-less enigma of Egyptian spelling. We can plug in e's and a's here and there, to render these names at least pronounceable. But the result will be what Egyptologist David M. Rohl calls "Egypto-speak"-not real Egyptian.
The shortcomings of Egypto-speak become embarrassingly apparent whenever scholars stumble across an Egyptian word that happens to have been transliterated into a foreign tongue. Thus, scholars have discovered that teh name of the pharaoh we call "Usermaatre Ramesses" in Egypto-speak was actually pronounced Washmuaria Riamashesha by the ancient Hittites.( David Rohl, 1995, p. 156) The Egypto-speak names of Amenhotep, Nebmaatre, and Neferkheperure are pronounced Amanhatpi, Nibmuaria, and Naphurria, respectively, in the cuneiform script of Mesopotamia.(Rohl, 1995, p. 160) How the Egyptians actually spoke these names, we do not know, but it seems a fair bet that Riamashesha is a lot closer to the mark than Ramesses.
What, then, shall we make of Prst, Tkr, Shklsh, Dnn, and Wshsh? A good Egypto-speak rendition of Prst would give Peleset (since "L" and "R" are frequently interchangeable in Egyptian). Some have suggested that teh Peleset are identical with the Philistines of the Bible. Then there are the Shekelesh, who may be one and the same with the Sikels of Sicily. The Dnn - that's Denen in Egypto-speak - may have been the Danaans of Homeric Greece. And so on.( Bibby (1961), pp. 338-339, Bernal (1991), p. 516, Shaw and Nicholson (1995), p. 255.)
It is all speculation. We know for certain only that the invaders came from many different lands and attacked by sea. Their attack was sufficiently traumatic that it plunged the Mediterranean word into a 300-year dark age. The Hittite Empire never rose again. The citadels of Mycenaean Greece vanished from history. But Egypt survived. Of all the great powers lining the Mediterranean "pond" at the close of the Bronze Age, it appears that Egypt alone possessed the one weapon necessary for fending off the Sea Peoples - a powerful war fleet.
When the invaders descended on Egypt, they came by land and sea simultaneously. One army marched down from Syria, while another sailed right into the mouth of the Nile with a mighty fleet. According to the inscriptions, Ramesses III turned his attention first to the land invaders, crushing the enemy beneath his chariots. Then he prepared for the final showdown - the battle with teh enemy ships. Ramesses III reported, "I turned the river mouths into a strong defensive wall, with warships, galleys and coastal vessels ... fully manned from stem to stern with brave warriros armed to the teeth. They were as ready for battle as lions roaring on the mountains."( Keller (1956), p. 177.)
The enclosure walls at Medinet Habu portray the titanic battle between the Egyptian fleet and the Peoples of teh Sea. In the relief, the foreigners can be seen on their ships, waring long skirts and peculiar, cockaded headdresses strapped to their chins. The Egyptians attack with their twenty-oared war galleys. Egyptian archers rain down arrows on the enemy decks, while Egyptian sailors disable the Sea Peoples' ships with grappling irons. Meanwhile, Egyptian infantrymen stand by, capturing survivors as the swim ashore. In the end, thousands of Sea People are marched away into slaver. Egypt has won a tremendous victory.
Whoever these Sea Peoples were, they had grossly miscalculated. Drunk with victory after their easy conquest of cyprus, Asia Minor, and Syria, they had momintarily convinced themselves that they, not Egypt, ruled the waves. Ramesses III and his war fleet lost little time in disabusing the Sea Peoples of this delusion.
What is perhaps most remarkable about this battle is that it was fought during the Twentieth Dynasty (1188 - 1069 B.C.) - a period of weakness and decline for Egypt. If the Egyptians could bring such sea power to bear in the autumn of their empire, what sort of navy might they have floated 200 years before, at the height of the Pax Aegyptiaca?
We can only guess. As is often the case in Egyptian history, the surviving records are so scanty that they raise more questions than they provide answers. We know that the pharaohs used warships from the earliest times. A rock carving at Gebel Sheikh Suleiman, for example, shows Nubian captives lashed to the prows of Egyptian war galleys in teh aftermath of a battle that probably took place sometime before 3000 B.C.( Steve Vinson, Egyptian Boats and Ships, Shire Publications, Buckinghamshire, England, 1994, pp. 35-36; also, Shaw and Nicholson (1995), p. 86) A painting in the tomb of the Eleventh Dynasty pharaoh Intef shows three heavily armed fighting ships, bristling with archers and mace-men. ( Ibid., pp. 20, 25)
The conquering pharaoh Thutmose III made effective use of naval power in his invasion of Syria-Palestine. Thutmose's first move when he marched into the region was to seize the harbors and equip them for heavy military traffic. "Every port town of His Majesty was supplied with every good thing ..." says an inscription of the time, "with ships of cedar loaded with columns and beams as well as large timbers." (Lionel Casson, The Ancient Mariners, Princeton U. Press, Princeton, NJ, 1991, p. 30.)
Thutmose immediately put these harbors to work.
Unfortunately, such scraps as this constitute all the information we possess about the elusive Egyptian navey. No clear records remain of large-scale naval engagements, beyond the single relief at Medinet Habu portraying the battle against the Sea Peoples. Based ont the "silence" of Egyptian records, some experts have gone so far as to conclude that Egypt never was a real maritime power at all. To the extent that she even had a navy, say the skeptics, it was used only for fighting on the river and not on the high seas. Indeed, the conventional view has long been that the Egyptians feared the open sea. Egyptologists Ian Shaw and Paul Nicholson wite:
The importance of water transport [in ancient Egypt] ... arose inevitably from the existence of the river Nile ... as the principal artery of communication.... However, when sailing outside the Nile Valley, on the Mediterranean or Red Sea, the ships seem to have stayed close to the shore. Unlike the Greeks, the Egyptians were evidently not enthusiastic seafarers. (Shaw and Nicholson 1995, p. 268)
Teh idea that the Egyptians were coast-hugging landlubbers remains standard among scholars to this day. But the theory has its problems. For one thing, it is based on a double standard. Evidence for seafaring ability is evaluated in two totally different ways, depending on whether it is found in Egypt or in the aegean. In general, scholars tend to assum that the Grereks and cretans were great seafarers during teh Bronze Age, even when there is very little evidence to prove this. Thus, in the book Prehistory and Protohistory, edited by George A. Christopoulos and John C. Bastias in 1974, we find the following statement regarding seafaring among the Bronze Age Cretans:
Although seafaring was unquestionably very highly developed, there is unfortunately very little positive evidence about it. Our only sources of information about the ships are a few illustrations, most of them on tiny sealstones.... In the circumstances, it is easy to see how thet Minoans [Cretans] came to enjoy teh virtually unchallenged supremacy of the seas. (Prehistory and Protohistory 1974 p. 151-152)
In this passage - as in scholarship generally - teh lack of positive evidence proves no obstacle to a firm conclusion that the Cretans enjoyed unchallenged supremacy of teh seas.
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