London, August 11 (ANI): Archaeologists excavating a palace in the ancient city of Avaris have got a glimpse into the brutal way warriors proved their prowess 3,600-year-ago.
They have dug up four pits containing 16 large right hands that are believed to have been sliced from the arms of vanquished enemies.
Experts believe that it is the earliest and only physical evidence to prove that soldiers used to present the cut-off right hands of enemies in exchange for gold.
They believe that after beating the enemy successful fighters would chop off their opponents' hand to remove his strength and deprive him of his power for eternity.
Two of the pits discovered are situated in front of what is thought to be a throne room and contained one hand each.
The remaining 14 hands were found in two other pits built at a slightly later time in an outer section of the palace.
All the hands found in the Nile Delta northeast of Cairo are right hands.
According to LiveScience, Australian archaeologist Manfred Bietak, project and field director of the excavations said that most of the hands were quite large.
The finds are apparently from a period when the Hyksos, thought to be from northern Canaan, established the heart of their kingdom at Avaris today known as Tell el-Daba.
The archaeologists think that Hyksos rulers King Khayan lived at the Palace at the time the hands were buried.
According to Bietak, Egyptian writing and art depicts soldiers presenting the cut-off right hands of enemies in exchange for gold.
"Our evidence is the earliest evidence and the only physical evidence at all. Each pit represents a ceremony," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
He said that cutting off the right hand helped to count victims and was a symbolic way of taking an enemy's strength.
"You deprive him of his power eternally," Bietak said.
The hands could have belonged to either Egyptians or enemies the Hyksos were fighting in the Levant.
One inscription on the tomb wall of Ahmose, son of Ibana, an Egyptian fighting in a campaign against the Hyksos about 80 years later than the time the 16 hands were buried. It read:
"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.'
Later, in a campaign against the Nubians, to the south, Ahmose took with him three hands and was given 'gold in double measure,' the inscription suggests.
Bietak said that experts were not certain who started this gruesome tradition. No records of the practice have been found in the Hyksos' likely homeland of northern Canaan. (ANI)