The Dictionary

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WADIEL HUDI. A site of amethyst quarries in the Eastern Desert near Aswan with a fortress of Roman date.

WADI TUMILAT. The Wadi Tumilat runs from near the apex of the Delta toward the Red Sea. Ramesside documents show that Shasu beduin came along it in the dry seasons with their herds and flocks. Its importance increased with the construction of a canal by Nekau II, completed or enlarged by Darius I, renewed by Ptolemy II, and extended by Trajan. The canal was 45 meters wide, 5 meters deep, and was navigable for 84 kilometers from Per-Bastet to the Red Sea. The town of Per-Atum (Pithom), known as Heroönpolis in the Ptolemaic period (the modern site of Tell el-Maskhuta), was a major entrepot from the time of Nekau II through the Roman period.

WAHIBRE (APRIES) (reigned 589–570 BC). Pharaoh of the 26th Dynasty. In 588/587 BC, Wahibre attacked the towns of Tyre and Sidon, which had become subject to the expanding Neo-Babylonian Empire, while its emperor, Nebuchadnezzar II, was besieging Jerusalem. Following the fall of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar invested Tyre, and many Jews took refuge in Egypt (notably at Aswan). Wahibre was dethroned by Ahmose II in a rebellion of the army following a failed campaign in Libya (probably directed against Cyrene). Despite this, Wahibre still had support throughout Egypt and in 570/569 BC attempted to regain his throne with the assistance of ships from Cyprus and troops from Caria and Ionia. Wahibre was defeated in battle and fled to western Asia. However, he still seems to have had support in Egypt and persuaded Nebuchadnezzar to invade Egypt in a second attempt to reinstate him, in 568/567 BC. Wahibre was killed, perhaps in battle, and buried by Ahmose II in the royal necropolis at Sau.

WALL. Defensive walls, other than those around fortresses and settlements, were built at a number of places in Egypt and Nubia. Some are known only from texts, but fragments of others survive. There was a wall between the fortresses of Semna and Uronarti at the Second Cataract; a wall between the town of Aswan and the port area at the head of the First Cataract, perhaps delimiting the whole region as Senmut. A similar wall is reported between the Nile Valley and the Fayum running from Riqqa to Philadelphia. The Walls of the Ruler are known from the story of Sinuhe: they formed part of the eastern defenses of Egypt and, as such, probably related to others in the region that date back to the time of Sneferu. The Palermo Stone records the “building of walls of the Southland and of the Northland called the Houses of Sneferu.” Such fortifications might have combined long walls with dry ditches, canals, watchtowers, and larger garrison fortresses.

Walls were built of unburned mud brick, strengthened with layers of timber and matting. They could have towers and bastions on the external faces. Enclosure walls of towns, such as Nekheb, or temples, were generally without additional external features and were built in interlocking sections of undulating brickwork. This technique (usually called pan-bedding) gave strength to the wall when it was situated in the flood plain, preventing it from breaking when the water table expanded.

WALLS OF THE RULER. These are referred to in the tale of Sinuhe as a defense “to repel the Asiatics and to crush the Sand-farers.” They could be a later development of the “walls of the Southland and of the Northland called the Houses of Sneferu” referred to in the Palermo Stone. They might have been replaced by the fortresses and defensive network, including a canal, which extended from Tjaru.

WAR. A prolonged dispute between nations or, in the case of civil war, rival sections of the population. Battle is one element in wars, but breaks in diplomatic and trading contacts are also important factors. Although the term “war” is often used in Egyptological literature (as in the “Libyan Wars” of Sety I and Merenptah), it might not be strictly applicable in many cases of Egyptian hostilities before the Ptolemaic period. In most instances, Egyptian campaigns involved sieges, battle, and lesser skirmishes, but were not necessarily prolonged and with the diplomatic breaks that characterize later wars. The Syrian Wars of the Ptolemaic period were prolonged military actions with many individual battles, as were the wars of the diadochoi.

WAR CRY. Descriptions of battle being relatively rare, there is little firm evidence for aspects that are known from other societies, such as the war cry. However, a few texts show that this was a part of battle. Sinuhe gave a great war cry after he had defeated the champion of Retenu. Texts of Ramesses III’s military actions describe his war cry: he bellowed and roared like a griffon.

WATCHTOWER. The best evidence for watchtowers is from the Roman period, although they probably existed earlier. Those preserved in the Eastern Desert are usually built of stone, measuring some 3 or 3.5 meters square, and the same high. Access was by ladder, and the towers were in sight of each other. At Aswan, three watchtowers stood between the town and the fortress at the head of the cataract, and formed part of a network extending from Dendur in Lower Nubia to Edfu. There is evidence for a system of towers at the apex of the Delta, from Abu Rawash probably to Babylon.

WAWAT. Originally the name of a chiefdom of Lower Nubia, acquiring more generalized meaning. It is first encountered in texts of the late Old Kingdom. Wawat was the most northerly of three chiefdoms between the First and Second Cataracts. The texts of Harkhuf show that Wawat had expanded conquering Irtjet and Satju. From then on, Wawat was the name given to the whole region between the First and Second Cataracts. It was the name given to the administrative province during the New Kingdom, when the viceroy maintained his headquarters at Aniba or Faras.

There was little disturbance in the region during the New Kingdom, apart from incursions of Libyans into the oases in the reign of Ramesses II, and an attempted rebellion in the reign of Merneptah. This was supposed to have taken place at the same time as the Libyan War but apparently failed. Many archaeologists think that Wawat was without settled population during the whole period from the end of the New Kingdom to the Meroitic period. This, however, seems unlikely, and there is evidence from different periods for garrisons in the fortresses. Qasr Ibrim might have been fortified in the troubles of the reign of Ramesses XI. Certainly, troops were stationed there and at Buhen, Mirgissa, and Semna in the reign of Taharqo. The fortress of Dorginarti was probably built in the Persian period.

Although Wawat remains as a rather archaic designation in Ptolemaic texts, the district controlled by the Ptolemies and Romans was known as the Dodekaschoinos, or, when enlarged, the Triakontaschoinos. The former had its boundary at Maharraqa. There was military action in the region in the reign of Augustus when the prefects Cornelius Gallus and Caius Petronius brought their armies here in the conflict with Meroe.

WAYS OF HORUS. The name of the route from Egypt along the coast of north Sinai, through Rhinocolura, Raphia, and Gaza to Canaan and western Asia. The difficulties of the road served as a natural protection to Egypt, but this was increased with a defensive network of fortresses. The evidence comes from literature and archaeological remains, which have been understood in relation to the schematic representation of the frontier in the relief sculptures of the wars of Sety I on the exterior wall of the Hypostyle Hall in the temple of Karnak (Thebes). A major study by Alan Gardiner has been modified by more recent excavation and research, but the identification of some sites with their Egyptian names remains uncertain.

A canal is depicted in Sety I’s relief, probably connecting the Pelusiac branch of the Nile with the Bitter Lakes. The most important fortresses known from the documentary evidence were the great frontier control points of Tjaru (also Tjel, or Sile), Migdol, and Pelusion. Also close to the border was Daphnae. Tjaru was identified by Gardiner and others with the site of Tell Abu Sefa, but is now suggested to be the nearby site of Tell Hebwa. This whole region has recently become the focus of survey and excavation. At Tell Qedwa, excavations in the fort have proven it to be Saite in origin. It had walls with cellular construction, some external towers, and a moat. The fortress was rebuilt after a massive conflagration. At Tell el-Herr, a fortress of Persian date underlies a later fort. The name of Ramesses II has been found in the excavations at Tell Borg, although it is not yet identified as a fortress.

Two roads ran along the coast. One of these went from Pelusion along the narrow stretch of land that separated Lake Serbonis from the sea: it was quick but treacherous. On this route lay Mount Kasios, which has been identified with two possible points. The inland route was certainly that in regular use. It crosses an inhospitable, almost waterless desert, and armies invading Egypt sought the aid of the local Arabs in crossing it. From Pelusion to Rhinocolura (Brook-of-Egypt, modern el-Arish) is about 120 kilometers, on to Raphia 45 kilometers, and to Gaza another 34 kilometers, totaling around 200 kilometers.

WEAPONS. The Hunter’s Palette and similar late Predynastic and Early Dynastic monuments (e.g., the Narmer Palette) show the range of early weapons: the self-bow, spear, mace, axe, dagger, and throwstick. The sling was undoubtedly used extensively as well. With few additions, these remained the principal weapons throughout the dynastic period. The composite bow was introduced in the Second Intermediate Period. The dagger was enlarged into the sword (perhaps aided by developments in metal technology), and the sickle-shaped khepesh introduced. The spear was adapted as a stabbing and throwing (javelin) weapon.

Most weapons were manufactured in the state workshops, whether attached to the temples or palaces, as these were the storehouses of the precious metals and other materials required, most of which were the product of foreign trade (or tribute). The value of the materials, as with tools, ensured that the bureaucracy kept careful control of weapons. The distribution of weapons to the army is depicted in the scenes of the battle with the Sea Peoples at Medinet Habu. Other weapons were the product of the international arms trade.

There was relatively little difference in the range of weapons available to Egypt and her enemies, or in the technology. It has been assumed that the development of iron working gave an advantage to the armies of Assyria, but this is not certain. Assyria does appear to have had far more sophisticated machinery for siege warfare. Perhaps its greatest asset, however, was efficiency and training. Assyria was able to mobilize its armies and send them to rebellious distant regions at remarkably high speed.

WEDJAHORRESNE (fl. c. 540–500 BC). Official of the Late Period whose statue, now in the Vatican Museum, carries a long and valuable autobiographical inscription. It was originally set up in the temple in Sau in the reign of Darius I. Wedjahorresne is often described as a “collaborator” because he served as commander of the navy under the pharaohs Ahmose II, and Psamtik III, and then under the conquering king of Persia, Cambyses, ending his career under Darius I.

WESHESH. One of the Sea Peoples, an element in the invasion of year 8 of Ramesses III.

WOMEN. Women rarely appear in scenes of battle, and when they do, it is usually as enemies besieged in towns or as captives in the aftermath of campaign. With the exception of the violent imagery of queens in the New Kingdom and at Meroe, women are not usually shown fighting. The scene in the tomb of Inti at Deshasheh shows women inside the fortress that is being attacked helping the wounded. In Egyptian literature, women, as wives and mothers, are left bereft when their male soldier relatives are killed. This view of women in relation to war as generally passive victims doubtless has some truth, but is also influenced by the image of women and their role projected in the Egyptian monumental and literary record, which was essentially a male product. An active role in war is attested for some royal women, notably Hatshepsut, members of the Ptolemaic family (Kleopatra II, III, VII), and Amanirenas of Meroe. Whether elite and nonelite women accompanied military campaigns as wives, workers, or camp-followers is undocumented.

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