More exotic ancients to add to our Hail Caesar range this week – this time the start of our Kushites…
The Kushites are an ancient group of people, living on the fringes of the known world in modern day Sudan. The Greek name Aithiopians, does not relate them to the modern country of Ethiopia. Herodotus describes the Kushites in Xerxes army as wearing the skins of animals such as Lions and Leopards and carrying primitive spears tipped with Agate. The also carried wooden clubs and rawhide shields.
The leader wears a garment reminiscent of earlier Libyan clothing which is shown on the Kushite throne bearer relief. He also wears a headdress of ostrich feathers. The standard holds a icon decorated with a lions mane, ostrich feathers and beads. The musician carries a drum which is synonymous with African tribal music.
The most striking feature of the Kushites is their vermilion and white body paint which they adorned themselves with before battle. Body paint still plays and important part in African tribal cultures. White and red can represent life, death, protection and aggression.
Described by Herodotus as the tallest and most beautiful people in the world, they must have been an intimidating opponent. Cambyeses tried to conquer the Kushites but his army nearly starved to death while travelling in the harsh barren environment between Kushiya and Egypt. Although never a part of the Persian empire, they did provide regular tribute and soldiers to the Persian army.