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Weapons and War in Ancient Egypt

By: Hugh Bonnette

Table of Contents

Intro and Egypt’s Armies and Enemies--------------------------- 1-2 Ancient Egypt’s Weapons and Armor----------------------------- 3 Lives of Ancient Egyptian Soldiers--------------------------------- 4 Ancient Egyptian Battle Tactics/Conclusion--------------------- 5 Glossary------------------------------------------------------------------ 6 Bibliography------------------------------------------------------------- 7

EGYPT: WEAPONS AND WAR Have you ever wondered about ancient Egypt’s great empire? Well, the other countries didn’t just give Egypt their land. Egypt took it by force! Keep reading to find out more about awesome weapons, cool armor, and amazing battles!

Egypt fought many great battles and had immense army sizes. Have you ever wondered about Egypt’s great enemies and armies? Some of Egypt’s main enemies were Syrians, Canaanites, Sheredan, Pelesets, Hittites, Nubians, Kushites, Bedouin, and Libyans. One time, Egypt was easily conquered by the Hyksos. The reason they won so easily is that they had horses and chariots. Eventually the princes of Thebes drove them out of Egypt. Egyptian warriors soon learned how to use horses and chariots. After their defeat, Egypt organized their army much more. One of the reasons Egypt was a big target for invaders is because it had much gold, copper, and good building stone. In the Old Kingdom pharaohs were considered to holy to fight, unlike the first Egyptian kings. In the middle kingdom

pharaohs started to lead their people into battle again. A reason Egypt lasted so long is that they had great war-leaders. Tutmosis III was Egypt’s greatest war leader pharaoh. He won 17 major battles. Ramesses III stopped the sea peoples in two amazing battles, one on land and the other at sea. In the New Kingdom, Egypt’s army was split into divisions named after gods. In each division there were 5000 men. 1000 of them were chariots with men on them. The other 4000 men were infantry of archers. In each division there were 25 companies of 200 men. In each company there were groups of 50 men. They were led by a chief of 50. A group of 50 was divided into groups of 10. These en ate and slept with each other. The New Kingdom had 3 types of troops. Elite troops were called the braves. They took on dangerous missions. Most of the army were veterans. Then there were the recruits who were back fighters. I hope you liked learning about Egypt’s rivals and armies.


Graph of most popular weapons.

Just imagine what cool weapons might have been used in ancient Egypt. They also had awesome armor, which you will learn more about if you keep reading. Early weapons were made of stone and copper. New Kingdom used bronze. Later, Mideast people found a secret to importing iron. Egypt had to import it to make better weapons. Egypt’s main weapons were battleaxes, spears, battle maces, daggers, and swords. Hyksos introduced a Khopesh (curved sword), and a composite bow. Chariots were also introduced. 2 horse chariots held 1 soldier and 1 charioteer. Egypt used battering rams to break the walls. Old and Middle Kingdom soldiers wore leather straps across their chests. They also protected themselves with wooden shields covered in cow hide or leather. The shields has a bronze boss. Archers wore braces on their arms to protect themselves from the snap of the bowstring. The New Kingdom soldier’s armor was shields, thick linen padded helmets, leather or chain mail body armor, cuirasses. Chain Mail was flexible and allowed soldiers to move freely. It was made of bronze scales sewn onto leather. Chain Mail was expensive, so only high ranks used it. King Tutankhamun’s ceremonial armor was made of Gold Mail. New Kingdom Pharaohs wore a blue war helmet. After winning a battle, rebel leader’s skulls were bashed with maces. I personally don’t like this form of torture. I hope liked learning about war strategies in ancient Egypt. 3

Picture of Egyptian Model Soldiers

A soldier’s life in ancient Egypt was very hard and unfair. They had a long day of training and working, but barely enough food. Keep reading to find out more. Soldiers often wrestled to stay fit and agile. Soldiers also drilled all morning. They learned how to use many weapons but were experts at just one or two. Sadly, the average soldier ate stale bread for breakfast. Often, lentils and garlic were often served for lunch. They had a meager amount of food. In battle, charge and retreat were played on the trumpet, so new recruits had to learn them quickly. Officers carried staffs to represent their rank, and to hit misbehaving recruits. When Egypt made camp, scouts would patrol it to make sure there were no enemies nearby. If there was no war, soldiers often did government work. In the evening, soldiers guarded the pharaoh. After battle, gold flies were given to soldiers whom had stung the enemy by doing a noticeably good job. They also had to cut off the right hands of soldiers so scribes could record how many soldiers were dead. I hope you liked learning about the life of an ancient Egyptian soldier.


Diagram of Egypt’s war setup

Egyptian soldiers had many strategies. Keep reading, and you’ll find out more. In the Old Kingdom, warriors would rush to the center while archers in the back and sides would shoot down the enemy. The Middle Kingdom is when Egypt started building their empire. The kings sent armies against Nubia, a neighboring country. They conquered it and held it as a buffer against the Kush, warlike people from the south. Around the Middle Kingdom, Egypt often hired mercenaries, mostly to increase the size of their army. This was a strategy of Egypt’s. Middle Kingdom warriors would have many troops that shocked the enemy with battleaxes and shields so other troops could flow in. In the New Kingdom Egypt built a fortress to defend against the Libyans and the sea peoples. It had 2000 soldiers at the ready all the time. The fort was called Buhen. The walls of forts were 5 meters wide and 10 meters tall. Most forts were made up of about 15 million mud bricks. Egypt used scouts who rode on horseback to watch the opponent. Princes of other countries had to give their children to Egypt. They would be treated very nicely so that they would grow loyal to Egypt. Later they might donate goods to Egypt, which they used for their army. If Egypt didn’t beat an enemy is battle, they would siege their opponents main city to cut off any food and water supplies. This would usually cause the enemy to surrender. Captured people had to pay taxes with food of gold. Because of this Egypt was very rich. I hope you liked learning about ancient Egypt’s war tactics I hope you liked learning about Ancient Egypt’s armies and enemies, weapon and armor, soldiers’ lives and Egypt’s battle tactics. Now you know why Egypt’s empire was so great, powerful and interesting. 5

Glossary Composite- A strong metal. Cuirass- Upper chest armor. Empire- A group of once independent states, ruled by a single person. Hittites- People from turkey. They ruled an empire in the Middle East, and for many years were Egypt’s rivals. Hyksos- A people that conquered Egypt for a time. Meager- Very little, barely enough. Mercenary- Professional soldiers paid to fight for a foreign army. Pharaoh- The supreme ruler of ancient Egypt. Scribe- Someone who can read and write and makes a living by doing so.



Hart, G. (2008). Ancient Egypt. New York: DK Publishing. Millard, D. A. (2004). Going to War in Ancient Egypt. Alexandria: Franklin Watts. Pages, H. (2014). Retrieved from Ancient Egypt Battle Tactics: PBS. (2006, March 15). Retrieved from PBS: Smith, M. (2013). Ancient Egypt. New York: Kingfisher.