Science It Seems That Ancient Egyptians Had A Thing For Severed Right Hands

Published on August 13th, 2012 | by Steven Hodson


It Seems That Ancient Egyptians Had A Thing For Severed Right Hands

It Seems That Ancient Egyptians Had A Thing For Severed Right Hands

It seems that archaeologists in Egypt have made a rather startling, albeit disturbing, find in and around the ancient city of Avaris.

In various pits, two of which are situated at the front of an ancient throne room, they have discovered 16 severed hands. These aren’t pairs of hands but rather sixteen distinctly different right hands.

 “Each pit represents a ceremony,” explains archaeologist and Egyptologist Manfred Bietak, who led the excavation. Bietak’s team believes the remaining fourteen hands were buried some time later, in two pits located in the palace’s outer grounds.

According to Bietak, the 3600-year-old hands are the first physical evidence of a practice referenced in Egyptian writing and art, wherein the right hand of a bested enemy would be severed from the rest of the body.

via io9

As disturbing as finding these severed hands might be there is apparently some reasoning behind them with ease of counting victims being one. The other reason is suggested to be that the severed hand could be exchanged for gold and that by cutting off an opponent’s hand you rob them of their strength.

According to LiveScience’s Owen Jarus the history of the practice goes as thus:

Cutting off the right hand of an enemy was a practice undertaken by both the Hyksos and the Egyptians.

One account is written on the tomb wall of Ahmose, son of Ibana, an Egyptian fighting in a campaign against the Hyksos. Written about 80 years later than the time the 16 hands were buried, the inscription reads in part:

“Then I fought hand to hand. I brought away a hand. It was reported to the royal herald.” For his efforts, the writer was given “the gold of valor” (translation by James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Volume II, 1905). Later, in a campaign against the Nubians, to the south, Ahmose took three hands and was given “gold in double measure,” the inscription suggests.

Sounds kind similar to the scalping that the white man brought to the Indians.



Tags: , , ,

About the Author

Steven has been around the tech world long enough to see most of the stuff we think of cool happen before which leads to a certain bit of cynicism that has contributed to him being known as the cranky old fart of the Internet. Besides sharing some of the goodness that he finds with you here at 42x you can also find him curating some digital goodness at Winextra (tech type stuff) and Rotten Gumdrops (for your daily dose of WTF).

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑