Pharaohs didn’t carry weapons for decoration, they actually used them to kill

Detailed research on weapons preserved in the tombs of the pharaohs has shown that swords, axes and daggers were used in battles.
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The weapons of Egyptian potentates, including the pharaohs, were richly decorated, and scholars have suggested that they served as badges of power rather than for actual combat. But new research has shown that these weapons were also stained with the blood of enemies and were therefore not just for decoration.

Battles and executions

The daggers, swords and axes found in the tombs of the ancient Egyptian Bronze Age elite are astonishingly ornate. Their rich ornamentation and shiny metal surface suggest that they were used as ornaments rather than as actual ‚instruments of death‘. British Egyptologist Daniel Boatright of the Isle of Wight College was not fooled by the weapons‘ appearance. Historical sources show that the pharaohs were known to have personally participated in battles. And so it’s highly likely that they brandished their polished luxury weapons at their enemies.

Boatright examined the surface and blades of 125 ancient Egyptian weapons dating from 3,000 to 5,000 years ago. Even the first close examination showed that the daggers, swords, axes and spears were fully functional, despite their ornate decoration. They could be used to fight and kill. Weapons worn for decoration were very rare.

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The skull of the pharaoh Sekenenre Taa with signs of axe wounds.

Microscopic analysis showed that the points and blades bore unmistakable signs of wear. Their owners used them to hack and stab at the bodies of their enemies. They were probably used both in battle and in summary executions.

Revenge of the Pharaoh of Death

Interesting results have been obtained from research on a dagger belonging to the pharaoh Kamosa, who reigned between 1555 and 1550 BC. The dagger was apparently used to avenge the death of his father, Pharaoh Sekenenre Tao.

Sekenenre Tao ruled only Upper Egypt. The rest of the empire was ruled by the Hyksos. Sekenenre Tao fought them and apparently died in one of the battles. On the skull of his mummy, there are five axe wounds. Each was fatal. All indications are that the pharaoh was attacked by two or three men at once.

Kamose continued his father’s battle with the Hyksos. Eventually, he too fell at the hands of the Asian raiders, but he didn’t sell his skin cheap. His long dagger, which could easily be considered a short sword, bears numerous marks on the blade from the blows that were struck with it.

Boatring suggests that Kamose was taking revenge on the Hyksos for the death of his father and for cutting his body to pieces. He apparently did not miss a single occasion when his dagger „drank Hyksos blood.“


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