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An extract from Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066
by Ian Heath


The Sudanese were armed mainly with short thrusting spears, javelins or bows, which they appear to have fired from the kneeling position. 'They wore absolutely no armour and generally fought naked; the Hudud al-'Alam records as late as 982 that they still went about largely naked, despite undergoing a considerable amount of Arab influence by that date.

Some fought mounted on camels, but even such mounted Sudani warriors were usually completely naked even though they must have represented the wealthier upper classes. Those defeated by the Arabs at Dongola in 854 were not only naked but were armed with nothing more than shields and short spears. (The Arabs defeated them by tying camel-bells round their horses' necks and charging at the last moment with a loud cry of 'Allahu Akbar', the din thus created stampeding the Sudani camels, which threw their riders in the process.)

This figure is from 6th-9th century sources. The shallow circular shield is of hide and the spear has a broad, leaf-shaped blade.
[See A Negro on a Coptic textile, Egypt, 5th-6th century AD. Musee d'Art et d'Histoire, Fribourg.]

Next: 104. SUDANESE GHULAM in Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066 by Ian Heath

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