Ramesses III Prisoner Tiles

The Ramesses III prisoner tiles are a collection of Egyptian faience tiles depicting prisoners of war once was paved the floor near the window of the palace of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu. They are decorated with images of chained prisoners characterized by their ethnic attributes. It is a selection of five captives, representing peoples involved in the political world of the New Kingdom.

The Medinet Habu prisoner tiles were originally located in three rectangular cells on either side of the palace doorways, they are made of Egyptian faience, each of 30.5 centimeters (12.0 in) in height and 8 centimeters (3.1 in) in width.

Ramesses III Prisoner Tiles
Ramesses III Prisoner Tiles

The decorative tiles are considered of significant historical and ethnographical interest, given the representation of neighbouring populations during the 20th Dynasty (ca. 1189-1077 BC).

From right to left: the first captive is a Hittite with pale skin; his hands are tied behind his back and he wears a striped skullcap with a dotted rim. He wears a colourful short kilt and a garment tied at the shoulder.

The second is a Bedouin Shasu with his wrists held in handcuffs. He has a small beard, which connects to his mustache; he is wearing a ribbed cap with a plain headband and his dress is composed of a kilt, a tunic, and a Syrian robe, as well as a circular pendant.

The third is the traditional Asiatic with his elbows bound to shoulder height. He is most probably Syrian, recognizable by the sharp beard terminating in two points along his cheeks and his thick mass of black hair.

The fourth is Nubian with tightly curled red hair. He wears a decorated collar and a short kilt over a long pleated robe with dotted fringe and belt.

The fifth is a tattooed Libyan with his hands bound in front of him, bluntly cut shoulder-length hair with fringe and lengthy plait before his ear, with a black beard.

New Kingdom, 20th Dynasty, reign of Ramesses III, ca. 1186-1155 BC. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 36457 A, B, D and JE 36597