Painted wooden model (Turin, Museo Egizio), c. 1850 Be, depicting the preparation of bread. Here men and women grind grain, knead dough and shape and bake round, flat cakes of bread. Soldiers' daily rations, as for civilians, included large amounts of freshly baked bread. (AKG-images)
used for the king himself from the New Kingdom onwards. For sake of convenience, however, the term 'pharaoh' will be used throughout.
SERVING THE PHARAOH The Egyptian soldier spent very little of his time actually fighting pitched battles. Indeed, the army to which he belonged provided a ready labour force as much as a war machine. Its military role did not preclude it from being put to other uses when unskilled manpower was required, and the armed expeditions sent to procure valuable commodities were no different to the 'conventional' army according to surviving Middle Kingdom textual sources. The manpower and organization of the army was also put to good use for more peaceful purposes, such as civil engineering projects at home. A scene from the tomb of Djehutihotep at el-Bersha (Tomb 2) shows the transportation of a colossal statue pulled by 172 men in rows of fours. The accompanying inscription tells how the second row is made up of soldiers. Likewise, an inscription of Mentuhotep IV (r. 1992-1985 Be) records how his army was put to practical and peaceful
A: RECRUITMENT Conscripted from the peasantry, youths would be trained and formed into militia units to supplement the hereditary warriors. For the most part then, the Egyptian soldier was a peasant who was required to serve in the army when the pharaoh demanded service. As such he was not a full-time professional soldier of the realm, but a part-time member of what was known as a 'town militia' raised and maintained by the local nome. Military service began in the late teens, a peasant conscript serving perhaps for a year or two before being allowed to return home to his village. However, he would be liable to be called to arms at any time for expeditions or campaigns. On induction into the army, a youth would be sent from his village to the nearby barracks for training. On arrival he would be registered by a scribe and would then receive an obligatory haircut, closely cropped hair being the military fashion. Drill and instruction in the use of weapons would be an essential part of the on-going process of turning our free-thinking individual into a useful soldier. This basic training also included an energetic fitness programme, and this scene shows recruits taking part in a wrestling competition. The object is to throw your opponent to the ground, and the contest continues without intervals until one man has thrown his opponent a number of agreed times, perhaps three, without first suffering the same fate himself. Touching the ground with the back, shoulders or hips constitutes a fall.