Sunday, January 27, 2013

The land of Canaan, part II

I usually base my projects on historical battles and OOB's. Obviously in the case of this project that is difficult to achieve. Because while I can tell you I'd like to represent the battle of Megiddo, I can also tell you we know very little about the forces present at the battle. Moreover, I have to remind myself the ultimate goal of this project is to create a generic Canaanite army that can be used in a variety of rules.

The Canaanite army at Megiddo numbered anywhere between 5000 to 15000 men, depending on your sources. Chariots made-up the bulk of the army, supported by archers, infantry and a small contingent of heavy royal guards. So really, nothing that can't be reproduced on a smaller scale.

So I came up with the following tentative plan :
  • 2x6 chariots
  • 2x24 spearmen (close order)
  • 1x20 archers (open order)
  • 3x12 skirmishers (slingers or javelinmen)
  • 1x Canaanite prince on chariot
So that's a very manageable 130 foot figures, 24 horses and 13 chariots. This is the bare minimum and a good start. Maybe a bit heavy on the infantry but it's to keep me sane between painting the chariots (I love painting infantry). However since I'm not following a strict OOB, I leave myself room to change things along the way. I used to go with huge plans aimed at creating huge armies, but I've wisen up with the years... Now I like to divide my projects into smaller, achievable (and gameable) steps. Once this plan has been achieved, and depending on how much I enjoyed painting the project, I will come up with another plan, which should include more Chariots, Royal guards and the odd extras, like diorama's and such.

As I mentionned in a previous post, the vast majority of these figures will be Foundry, except for the Chariots (Cutting Edge miniatures).

I already have all the lead necessary for this plan, except for the prince. Surprisingly, I haven't found a Canaanite or Mitanni general figure. Anyone have an idea of a special figure I could use? Otherwise I'll just use one of the regular chariots and paint it extra special.

Source material is however quite scarce, and more often than not one has to use reference books on the Egyptians to get info on the Canaanites. So I got the Osprey on the NKE and Bronze Age Chariots, as well as Thutmose III by Richard A. Gabriel (which contains a whole chapter on the Canaanite and Mitanni armies), and Canaanites, by Jonathan N. Tubb. I'm trying at the moment to get a cheap copy of The Art of Warfare in Biblical Land. If a reader has other suggestion I would love to hear them.

One of the thing I enjoy about painting ancients is the almost complete latitude you have in choosing your figure's colour schemes. Like I did with my TYW army, I spent a lot of time thinking about it as I like the look of my armies to match the 'personnality' of the army and it's people. Many biblical armies are mostly beige and browns, but I wanted something more and decided to go with vibrant colours. First because that's my style of painting but also because for some reason I find it represents better a merchant people. It will also make a good contrast with the mostly whites of Canaan enemies; the Imperialistic Egyptians.

And representations of the Canaanites do show colours :

I decided to paint most of my infantry with a limited palette of raw linen, red and pale blue, in various ways as you have seen with the spearmen and the slingers. It will unify the army without making it look too uniformed. Chariots are special, and as such will have their own colour schemes, I'm thinking purple. After all Canaan was know for it's purple dye industry (from Wiki) :

Tablets found in the Mesopotamian city of Nuzi use the term Kinahnu ("Canaan") as a synonym for red or purple dye, laboriously produced by the Kassite rulers of Babylon from murex shells as early as 1600 BC, and on the Mediterranean coast by the Phoenicians from a byproduct of glassmaking. Purple cloth became a renowned Canaanite export commodity which is mentioned in Exodus. The dyes may have been named after their place of origin. The name 'Phoenicia' is connected with the Greek word for "purple", apparently referring to the same product, but it is difficult to state with certainty whether the Greek word came from the name, or vice versa. The purple cloth of Tyre in Phoenicia was well known far and wide and was associated by the Romans with nobility and royalty.

I said in my previous post I would discuss basing some more, but as John Matrix famously said in Commando; I lied ;-) .

(ah good ol" gratuitous violence from the 80s)

Actually I received quite a few question on how I do my basing, so I decided to devote a future post on the subject.

So the plan is set, the colours chosen, the figures bought, the reading in progress, now it's just a matter of completing the damn army!

Oh, and thanks to all my readers; I passed the 2000 hits milestone a few days ago. 


  1. Nice update and very interesting following your progress.
    Keen to how your chariots look and hope to get some tips for mine that are still to be completed. I lkie both bright coloured chariots and brown leather to contrast wioth bright crew. Difficult to decide.
    I think your army size is very good for any table and painting project.

    1. Thanks. As for the chariots, I'm leaning towards brightly coloured ones, but I might also end up doing both.

  2. Sounds good! Interesting stuff Iannick, looking forward to more. ;-)

  3. Sounds great Iannick, very interesting post. I am looking forward to seeing the chariots. I will get this project off the ground when my Andalusians are done.


    1. Yes I'm also looking forward to seeing my first batch of Chariots! I'm hopeful they will be finish in a week or so.

  4. That is a great plan and planning is half the fun of a new project, isn't it?

    Why the decision to field Cutting Edge chariots rather than Foundry? Since I will be beginning a similar project shortly, I am very interested in your progress and thoughts.