The best shields in the realm

The city of Nûl Lamta served not only as a significant hub for trade and agriculture but also gained renown for the production of shields, likely among the finest in the Almoravid Empire. This activity proved highly lucrative, given the Almoravids’ constant need to replace weapons while engaged in conflict against Christians in the north. Among these shields were likely the famed adargues (targes), small, lightweight, and highly resilient shields crafted from antelope hides (likely White Oryx) and utilized by the light cavalry. Their superior quality was such that even Christians employed them until the advent of firearms.

These miniatures from the book Cantigas de Santa Maria (poems in praise of the Virgin Mary written by King Alfonso X of Castile in the 13th century) depict the Almoravid or Almohad cavalry wielding these heart-shaped adargues.

“In this city [Nûl], the Lamta shields are crafted; nothing surpasses their perfection, endurance, or form. The Maghrebians employ them in battle due to their defensive efficacy and lightweight design.” (Al-Idrîsî, 12th century).