Ancient Egyptian Army and Weapons

Egypt was surrounded on three sides by desert. This was a deterrent in itself to enemies invading the country and in early Ancient Egypt there was no maintained army.

Governors (nomarchs) of each district (nome) had their own individual volunteer army. These would only come together in times of conflict. In the later period following invasion, Egypt decided to maintain a complete army.

Being a soldier was not classed as a high-ranking position in society and army’s were normally manned by the lower classes, such as people with no trade, farmers and slaves. In later periods when chariots and the navy were added to the army, more high-ranking and well-respected positions appeared.

The head of the army ultimately was Pharoah, who had 2 generals working under him. The Pharoah would often lead the army into battle.

The army consisted of Infantry, Chariots and Navy.

The wearing of armour was rarely seen due to the hot climate in Egypt. The soldiers mainly defended themselves with the use of their shield.

Egyptians used many weapons over the early, middle and later periods.

The main weapons used were:

The Bow and Arrow

This was used through all the periods of Ancient Egypt. In early periods the longbow was made of wood, later to improve flexibility, a composite bow was used made from horn and wood melded and glued together. Arrowheads through the ages were made of stone, obsidian and finally iron.

Sword (Khopesh)

This was a thick, curved blade about 2 feet (60 cms) in length, and used as a slashing weapon. Over time there were 2 different styles of Khopesh. One had a hook at the end for grabbing. This was the most common as it was used for grabbing the enemy shield away from the soldier. The other style had a pointed end and was used for stabbing.

Battle Axe

This was constructed in bronze with a crescent shaped blade connected to a wooden handle. It was used as a slashing and hacking weapon.

Spear

These were cheap to make and widely used by the army. They were made shorter than other countries ones at the time and had a wooden handle and spearhead. The spearhead evolved over time and was made from stone, obsidian and iron.

Throwing Stick

This was not a strong weapon, but was well thought of and therefore well used. It was unlikely to kill, but could incapacitate a person and also be used as a distraction weapon.

Sling

This was small and easy to carry so it was popular with the men. It would be used mainly at long and medium range.

Chariots

These appeared in the later period. They were a 2 wheeled carriage, pulled by 1 or 2 horses. There was 1 soldier controlling the horses and 1 soldier fighting with his weapons. Bow and Arrow, spears and throwing sticks were popular weapons on chariots.

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