Model of ancient Egyptian infantry

This group model of ancient Egyptian infantry was found in the tomb of Mesehti, a local governor of Asyut at the end of the First Intermediate Period and the beginning of the Middle Kingdom.

The group consists of forty soldiers arranged in ten lines. They are colored reddish brown, their strong tan indicating their continuous and elaborate open-air training. They have a tidy hair cut which covers their ears and a very short kilt to facilitate movement, and they carry lances and shields.

Model of ancient Egyptian infantry
Model of ancient Egyptian infantry

The artist varied the decorations on the shields to add interest and break up the monotony of the group, and also portrayed them with different facial features and heights to create liveliness. This further accentuated by the eyes which show their alertness and strength. while their representation in parallel lines and advancing their left legs creates a rhythm that imbues the group with still more animation.

Model of ancient Egyptian infantry
Model of ancient Egyptian infantry

Mesehti was an ancient Egyptian nomarch of the 13th nomos of Upper Egypt (“the Upper Sycamore”) around 2000¬†BCE, during the 11th Dynasty. He also was seal-bearer and overseer of the priests of Wepwawet. He is well known for his funerary equipment, found in Asyut at the end of 19th century during an illegal excavation.

Middle Kingdom, 11th Dynasty, around 2000 BC. Wood, from Asyut. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 30986