Egyptian Riders on Horseback in Ancient Egypt

A few representations of Egyptians mounted on horses survive on the battle scenes on temple walls. Horseback riding was the exceptional means of transportation; chariotry was glorified as the ultimate vehicle of war.

Horseback Riders in Battle of Kadesh Scenes

Amelia B. Edwards' drawing of the Abu Simbel tableau of the Battle of Kadesh covers a wider view of the battle scene than Breasted's drawing of the Ramesseum's battle version in the previous article.

The Battle of Kadesh depicted at Abu Simbel--Edwards drawing ~ links to larger view
The Battle of Kadesh depicted at Abu Simbel by Amelia B. Edwards [larger view]

closeup of a mounted Egyptian messenger at the Battle of Kadesh ~ links to larger view
full view

Egyptian on horseback from Abu Simbel tableau

To the right of the river Orontes, where it flows around the city of Kadesh and above it, a mounted scout or messenger gallops into camp. He rides bareback, with no weapons or tack. Here is a closeup of that rider, right.

On the far right a very small rider and horse gallop in from the right edge.

Amelia Edwards notes (A Thousand Miles up the Nile 1877 by Amelia Blandford Edwards 1831-1892) :

"It is worth noting also that a horseman, that rara avis, occurs some four or five times in different parts of the picture."

At Camp after the Victory

Eyptians in camp after the battle ~ links to a larger version
Egyptians in camp after the battle by Edwards. [The image links to a larger version.]

Egyptian on horseback from Abu Simbel tableau
full view

Farther right on the north wall beyond the first Battle of Kadesh scene (above) the Egyptians return to affairs in camp after the battle and listen to the rerun delivered by Ramesses in support of his victory. Edwards provides this view of the camp activity following the victory on the Abu Simbel wall. A lone rider carries what looks like a flag in his left hand. I always thought he was a flag bearer until I saw a detailed photo of the relief.

Egyptian on horseback from Abu Simbel tableau
Abu Simbel rider

A photo of the actual tableau suggests he carries a bow with a faint loop showing in his left hand, perhaps an arrow in the right hand—the appendage to the arrow that Rosellini or Edwards clearly drew is hard to distinguish. He seems to wear a kilt, more clearly distinuished than in most early Egyptologists' drawings of horsemen. Most of the wall scene is published in a huge four page foldout in Ramesses II (by T.G.H. James, Friedman/Fairfax 2002). My sketch on the right after that photo attempts to interpret the Egyptian rider.

another Egyptian on horseback from Abu Simbel tableau
another Abu Simbel rider

Another sketch after a photo in the T.G.H. James book, also from Abu Simbel. The rider more reasonably sits in the center of the horse's back, probably because the horizontal stretch of the horse accommodates that composition compared to the leaping horse above. I.E.S. Edwards points out (Treasures of Tutankhamun 1976 Metropolitan Museum of Art) that Egyptian artists composed so that articles did not intersect the full image of body parts. Over the rider's shoulder hangs a quiver, suggesting that the above rider might be carrying one also. That explains the diagonal form on the left under his arm.

The artist expresses the horse's fluid motion but the cruder second carving lacks the undulating curves of the horse's neck and head illustrated in the first Abu Simbel version. T.G.H. James labels this from the wall inscription: "The arrival of the scout to hasten the army."

A Final Battle Reference and Two Civilian Riders

[v.1-3] Egyptian Riders [1 | 2 | Continued]

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