Saturday, August 11, 2012

Enemy hands

A telling number of right hands have turned up as the Austrian Archaeological Institute and the Austrian Academy of Sciences excavate a palace occupied by the Hyksos ruler King Khayan  in the ancient city of Avaris. The archaeologists have unearthed the skeletons of 16 human hands (above, more here): 1 each in pits in front of what is believed to be a throne room and the other 14 in 2 additional pits located in an outer space of the palace. "Most of the hands are quite large and some of them are very large," says Manfred Bietak, field director of the dig at the modern Egyptian city of Tell el-Daba. The discovery of the hands, which date back 3,600 years, are evidence of a practice described and illustrated by the ancient Egyptians, and also carried out by the Hyksos. Soldiers presented the hands of their enemies to their ruler in exchange for gold. This ensured anilled accurate count of enemy casualties and symbolically took away their strength. The find is the earliest evidence (and only physical evidence) of the tradition in ancient Egypt. But the cutting off of hands (or ears in the case of the enemies of Genghis Khan in 13th c. Eurasia and noses of the enemies of Toyotomi Hiyedoshi in 16th c. Japan) has been done in Eastern and Western cultures, and into the present day. One more recent example is when the hands of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara (1928-1967) were presented as proof of his death.

Thanks for the link, Cherei!
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