Prisoners Of War at Medinet Habu: Synchronism between Battle-Narrative Texts and Iconography in the New Kingdom

Maha Yehia


Prisoners of war depictions contain a lot of information that of an importance for many aspects; historical and understanding the Egyptian concept about other people.
Egyptologists have given a special attention to inscriptions and epigraphic studies which is no doubt of great importance at this point, the depictions of prisoners of war can inform us with so much information about the space they devoted to enemy figures.
In the New Kingdom (NK) iconography shows several interesting details regarding the bindings of prisoners of war which demonstrate the creativity ability of the ancient Egyptians. Information about the prisoners of war and their fates are subject of many royal
monuments and inscriptions, stelea of officials and military leaders, tomb biographies. The textual record must be examined to determine the nature of those foreign captives.
Although many of the royal inscriptions use highly symbolic, rhetorical language to refer to the extraordinary power and praise of the pharaoh, its purpose is to glorify the king as the sole performer, these inscriptions and its phrasing are for the many aspects informative
regarding the fate of the prisoners. These texts reported the number of prisoners or captives that brought to Egypt, but it is often difficult to accept it as real. However, biographical texts are generally clearer and sometimes note that the king rewarded a particular official,
for being loyal to the king, with prisoners to work on his private estate. Stelae of high officials, erected to commemorate a their building achievements, specifically note that prisoners were used in the building’s project, while administrative papyri gave unique
details regarding the integration of the prisoners into the ancient Egyptian society.
This study will examine the status prisoners of war as they refer to them in the texts of autobiographies, military officers’ texts in their tombs or stelae and other texts that deal with prisoners of war from the New Kingdom, then the depictions of the prisoners on the
walls of temple Medinet Habu as one of the most important temples in which the depictions of wars of the king and the most important is the depiction of the prisoners of war which the king brought them with him. This iconography on the temple of Medinet Habu is a synchronism of these texts on the walls of the temple. The study will also deal
with the differences in treatments of the prisoners on texts and their parallel on the wall, including their fate and the fate of their families.
Before discussing this topic, it is helpful to examine the Egyptian terms which were used to refer to “prisoners of war” or “captive”


Prisoners, Medinet Habu

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