Early Libyan Armies

DBA I/7c(659-200BC)
DBA I/7d (200BC-70AD)

By Tony De Lyall

Contestants, you would game with an Libyan DBA army because -

  • (a) A Libyan DBA army is a killer army that sweeps all before it, or
  • (b) A Libyan DBA army is very fast to paint up and get gaming with because it has the least number of figures of any DBA army and these figures are simply dressed, or
  • (c) Mohawks are cool?

Answer (b) is correct - but don't expect many wins with an army of Psiloi.

Libyan Psiloi Javelin Men

These figures come straight from the Hat Carthaginian Allies set (Hat 8058). Libyans wore short sleaved, simple, unbelted tunics. Weapons were javelins and they used hide shields for protection. Following Duncan Head, these figures have had their tunics painted red. A simple conversion has replaced the javelin on the figure on the left with a javelin made from a piece of brass rod giving a throwing pose.

Herodotus says of Libyan clothing...

"The Libyans were clothed in leather and carried javelins hardened with fire."

"the Libyan women wear over their other garments bare goat-skins with tasselled fringes and coloured over with red madder"

"the Gyzantes ... all smear themselves over with red ochre and eat monkeys"

Libyan hair styles were quite distinctive. The Hat figures have mohawks but other styles are possible. Herodotus in his discourse on various the Libyan tribes says...

"next to the Nasamonians along the sea coast towards the West come the Macai, who shave their hair so as to leave tufts, letting the middle of their hair grow long, but round this on all sides shaving it close to the skin; and for fighting they carry shields made of ostrich skins."

"and while the Machlyans grow their hair long at the back of the head, the Auseans do so in front."

"they are called Maxyans. They grow their hair long on the right side of their heads and cut it short upon the left, and smear their bodies over with red ochre."

Libyan Light Horse

Besides the psiloi, the DBA 7d army has an element of light horse. These are based on the cavalry figure carrying the standard from the Hat Carthaginian Command and Cavalry set (Hat 8056). The standard has been cut down to just its pole resulting in a short javelin. The standard is comprised of sun and moon symbols and although the standard is a Carthaginian one you may wish to leave it on one figure, for Herodotus records...

"And they sacrifice to the sun and moon only. Now, to those all Libyans sacrifice ...."

Libyan Chariot

To morph the DBA 7d army into the earlier DBA 7c army you replace the light horse with a chariot. Similar chariots were used by the Libyans, Carthaginians and Kyrenean Greeks during this period. Duncan Head says the chariot was drawn by four horses and the chariot floor plan was rectangular twice as wide as long.

Herodotus records...

"Next to the Giligamai on the West are the Asbystai: these dwell above Kyrene, and the Asbystai do not reach down the sea, for the region along the sea is occupied by Kyrenians. These Libyans most of all the are drivers of four-horse chariots, and in the greater number of their customs they endeavour to imitate the Kyrenians."

The chariot you see here is a conversion. It is based on the scythed chariot from the Italeri Persian Cavalry with Chariot set (Italeri 6036, same as the Zvezda set). This chariot is roughly the right shape and has the two poles and the long yoke bar which Duncan Head says were to be found on Libyan chariots.

All the scythes and blades have been cut off leaving just a basic chariot shape. The wheels have been replaced with lighter spoked wheels from some Napoleonic artillery. Duncan Head says the wheels should have 4 or 6 spokes. I've kept the wheels with additional spokes to strengthen the model but you could cut some spokes of the wheels if you liked. Alternatively you could keep the original heavier wheels from the Persian Cavalry set. Although Head discounts it he does record that there is a Persian relief from Persepolis of a Libyan chariot showing such wheels.

The chariot horses in the Italeri Persian Cavalry set are all armoured which is inappropriate for a Libyan chariot. I've used some horses from the Airfix Napoleonic French Artillery set as substitutes. These had holes in their side into which I was able to insert the lugs on the chariot poles. Horses from other sets such as Airfix/Hat Romans should also work.

The javelin armed passenger is the same as the psiloi above. The driver is a figure from the Hat Alexander's Light Infantry set (Hat 8044) set with his javelin cut off. I originally inserted a whip into the raised hand but couldn't get it to look right so I removed it. Others may have more luck.


Head, Duncan "Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars"
Herodotus, "The Histories"

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