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Muslim Army #1

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  • James Mathews
    ... The time of the Prophet Muhammad; No illustrations survive from the time of the Prophet himself. On the other hand a great many details were handed down
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 25, 2014
      >>>> Muslim Army #1 <<<<

      The time of the Prophet Muhammad;

      No illustrations survive from the time of the Prophet himself.  On the other hand a great many details were handed down as oral traditions, and there is little reason to doubt their general accuracy.  Nor do they conflict with archaeological evidence or accounts by neighboring peoples.  From all the above information the below in regard to the three fighting men discussed in the following paragraphs are in my view quite interesting:

      A1: Muslim Leader (early to mid-7th century) 

      This man is wealthy and well-armed, with a two piece iron helmet of Byzantine origin over a mail coif (a close fitting cap) or aventail (An adjustable flap of a hood of mail armor, covering the chin, and secured to the hood.)  Very long hauberks (A coat of mail developed into a long tunic of chain mail) seem to have been common, although lamellar (composed of thin plates or leafs) armour such as this hardened leather cuirass  (a piece of armour covering the body) was not.  The sword is probably Sassanian or Indian origin while the leather shield and shoes are based on examples from nearby Nubia. The man also wears over his lamellar armor a heavy robe of black and white stripes knotted  over his right shoulder and covering his left shoulder and back.  He wears white pants under the chain mail and a heavy cloth band of brown material around the helmet and down his back.  Only his eyes are seen, the remainder of his face is covered by chain mail and a metal nose-guard on the helmet.

      (Main sources: traditional accounts written down in the eighth century; sword from Oman 6-7th centuries, Min. of Antiquities, Muscat.)

      A2: Muslim Infantry Archer (early to mid 7th century)

      This is a far poorer man that the one above.  He has wrapped his sword in a rag and laid it aside, as described in one source.  He has protected his head with with leather strips as revealed in another source.  His recurve bow is of simple construction carved from the wood of the nab’ tree (grewia tenax), and he shoots arrows with stone heads.  His clothes consist of sturdy na ‘l sandals, a long sleeve qamis tunic, and a typically Arabian cloth wound around his body and over the shoulder.  He has an arrow nocked in his bow and the remainder of the arrows are on the ground where he can reach them rapidly.  Slung over his right shoulder he has a bow and arrow case of leather.  He is kneeling on one knee ready to shoot.  He has a heavy beard and mustache with long hair down to his neck which is wrapped with narrow cloths around the leather strips.

      (Main sources: traditional written accounts; pre-& early Islamic petraglyphs in situ Oman; pre-Islamic south Arabian metalwork and relief carvings, Archaeological Mus., Sana’s, Yemen)

      A3: Bedouin Chief (early 7th century)

      There were no important differences between the beduin and settler costume in the 7th century Arabia, though there were differences between north and south.  Here a tribal sheikh has his hair tied up as seen in the art of pre-Islamic central Arabia.  Over a mail dir’ (mail shirt), he has an open-fronted jubba (long coat, white with small designs all over it) and beneath his mail he wears a fringed izzar (a robe).  Behind him is his camel which he holds by a braided rope.  His camel saddle is the same as those used by Arabs for hundreds of years though it has been given leather loop-stirrups as indicated by some evidence.  The saddle is triangular supported by two inverted Y-shaped wooden supports and covered with a pad.  The man holds a heavy spear made of bamboo with a lance-like blade.  The spear is about 9 or 10 feet long. 

      (Main sources: 1-7th centuries metalwork from Qarat al Faw, King Saud Univ., Riyadh; 6th century mosaic in situ Monastery of Kaynos, Mount Nebo, Jordan)


      Nicolle, A. McBride (illus.), “Armies of the Muslim Conquest,” Men-At-Arms, #255, Oxford & Long Island City, Osprey Pub., 1993.

      Respectfully Submitted;

      Marcus Audens


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