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The Libyans - 3000 Years Of Naked Aggression

Click here to shop our Libyan range.

This is the army for people who like painting flesh! The Libyans’ main items of dress were a leather phallus sheath and an ostrich feather, and little else. Occasionally they would add rows of beads and a heavy cloak but generally they fought nearly naked. This did not stop them being particularly aggressive, and they launched raids into Egypt for over 2,000 years, until they eventually founded their own dynasty early in the first millennium BC, after successive migratory waves had flowed west out of the Libyan Desert.

A Libyan army would consist of masses of skirmishing archers and javelinmen for most of the period covered, with only the few chosen warriors who accompanied chieftains being willing to get into hand-to-hand combat. This changed somewhat with the appearance of the Sea Peoples, with whom the Libyans allied. This alliance gave them access to copper slashing swords, which were taken up not only by an increased, though still relatively small, number of chieftains’ retainers, but also by archers.

Following engagements against the Egyptians, some chariots were captured or purchased, in which Libyan chieftains and their retinues rode to battle. However, Libyan chariots were not as well equipped nor their crews as well trained as those of Egypt.

Our Libyans were sculpted by Michael and Alan Perry. Scroll down for more information on collecting and paint an ancient Libyan army by Adrian Garbett.



You can distinguish different tribal contingents by their skin shade. Some tribes were similar to Egyptians in complexion, others were of Mediterranean type, while some would be darker. Many tribes tattooed their arms and legs with simple lines and geometric patterns.

The ubiquitous ostrich feather would be white or black; men with more than one might mix the two for effect. Cross-belts were made from natural materials and decorated with traded (or looted) beads.

The cloak, similar to those worn by Hittites and others, was not just a covering against the elements but could be held like a shield to absorb blows and missiles. It was of heavy woven fabric or hide. Fabric examples could be dyed and/or painted to resemble animal skins or striped in natural colours. Some of the hides could be quite exotic, so if you fancy painting a giraffe skin the best of luck to you.


Before 1250 BC the Libyan army would consist of archers and javelinmen fighting in an unorganised tribal style. They would appear as a swarm of skirmishers rushing to-and-fro seeking a weak spot in the enemy line, leaping from ambush, or simply melting away if outclassed. Occasionally their chieftain might charge into the fray with his retainers but generally the Libyans tried to swamp and confuse their enemies by attacking from multiple directions while not offering a solid target.

Models for this period can be taken from LIB1/2/3/6, as copper swords would be rare and the bow and javelin would be their main weapons. It would be accurate to include some figures with ‘throwsticks’ resembling a less curved and flattened boomerang. These are easily made from epoxy putty rolls slightly flattened and bent in the middle. The actual sticks ranged from one to two feet (30–60 cm) on length.



While still retaining the same tactics and fighting style, the chieftains’ retinues now constitute up to 10% of the warriors available. These can be found in the swordsmen packs LIB004/5. The most obvious change, however, was the introduction of chariots, and these are well worth spending some time modelling. 

For the crews of Libyan chariots choose figures that are advancing, as their more side-on poses, and hence narrower frontage, enable them to fit into the cabs. Drivers should be similar - the swordsmen with raised arms in LIB004 can have the sword removed and a whip added from flattened wire. Remove the base by sawing along the soles of the feet and try them for size in the assembled but unpainted cab. You will find that the forward foot needs trimming, but this is OK as they are very hard to see once everything is assembled. For the chariot itself I recommend E032, the Egyptian Light chariot model, as this has the simplest equipment and unarmoured horses. For Libyan chieftains you could use chariots E033 or E034, as they are slightly more ornate.  An acceptable alternative is Hittite Chariot HIT008 with the cab holes filled using modelling putty. 


Up to a third of your army can be made up of these fierce raiders. They were mostly fast moving swordsmen, who can add a real punch to the Libyan skirmishing cloud.

Check out our range of Sea Peoples Here.

Text by Adrian Garbett.


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