Friday, December 3, 2010

The first war movie

Battle of Kadesh

Bas relief mural

13th Century B.C.E.

This mural, on the second pylon of the Ramesseum near Luxor in Egypt, is said to be a multiple image representation of Ramses II driving a chariot into battle against the Hittites at Kadesh. I decided to break out the ‘moving’ parts and use them to computer-paint a ‘war movie’ video. (Another theory about the mural has it that the multiple legs simply indicate there are two horses pulling Ramses’ chariot, but I prefer the ‘action shot’ version of the story…)

Gert van Dijk’s website is an excellent reference for drawing animations of the various gaits for horses – but I found that the only gaits that the precisely spaced bas relief legs lent themselves to were bounding and pacing! Mr. van Dijk says, “a bound won't work for a horse: it would probably fall,” and I don’t think horses rear up on their hind legs while pacing… So both possibilities need modification. What we have is either a rearing pacer or a mincing bounder. You can see the resulting 30-second video on Youtube … and assuming Ramses didn’t scatter the Hittites driving a pacer, his horse must be bounding (carefully) into battle…

BTW, history tells us that Ramses wasn’t as victorious at Kadesh as his murals would have us believe… Maybe he really did have a pacer pulling his chariot!