The Numidian headbutt


Slight change of pace from our philosophical discussions in recent posts: I just checked my impressively detailed stats in WordPress, and made an intriguing discovery: My all-time top post by far is the one about Numidians looking like…. Zidane.

I won’t even link to it, for fear of perpetuating the cycle, but I find this funny. That rather silly post came about when I was researching my book and trying to visualize what Numidians probably looked like.

Numidians were the ancient inhabitants of northern African, to the west of Carthage. (Click on map above to enlarge.) They supplied Hannibal with his cavalry, which was the best in the ancient world. The Numidians rode without stirrups and bridles, came out of nowhere and disappeared again just as fast. They were deadly.

In any case, it turned out that they were the ancestors of today’s Kabyle Berbers, so I looked around for pictures and chanced upon one particularly good specimen. Ever since, according to my stats, I have been getting a steady stream of visits, though Google perhaps, from Algeria and France in particular and the soccer world in general. (Sorry: football world.) I hazard the guess that you guys are surprised when you arrive here.

And now to business: Using the same Numidian specimen, we shall examine the tactic they used against the Romans when they dismounted:

3 thoughts on “The Numidian headbutt

  1. Andreas:

    I don’t know the time-line very well and won’t until I read your book; but there was a huge Merino wool industry on the Iberian peninsula at one time which is credited for destroying the agricultural industry in Spain by allowing the sheep to graze freely. The Rams were real studs and could deliver a helluva a head-butt.

    Umm, I wonder if the Numidians adopted this technique while serving with Hannibal on the Iberian P.? They lived a stones throw from Iberia across the pond as they used to say. Is that possible? It is certainly as creative manuveur and would be equally surprising as the ‘ol Parthian Shot –although an entirely different technique. Zidane has obviously perfected it.


  2. I lived and worked in Morocco for a little while (about the time I became disillusioned with The Way). I always thought it was groovy to be a Berber. The Berbers are/were animists rather than muslims, so I always gave them partial credit for the presence of wine in North Africa. If I may generalize, they seemed less angry (less coffee, more wine?). In terms of appearance, in rural areas, their dress was different and it wasn’t impossible to find a blue-eyed Berber. I still have a traditional Berber hat that I could model for you, but I’d still look like a European mutt.

  3. That’s a funny angle, Steve. Yes, they would have had those butting rams in their time in Iberia. And Hamilcar and Hannibal already had the Numidians with them, as they were subduing the peninsula…

    Mr Crotchety, you bring back fond memories. I drove over the Atlas mountains in Morocco once, and remember the bright green eyes and aquiline, olive faces. Absolutely gorgeous. In fact, I’ve got some Berber knives hanging behind in my “office”…..

    Also, aren’t the same Berbers the one of the “Barbary Wars”?

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