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Ancient Egyptian Military

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Egypt was a land ideally positioned, defended from attack by naturally occurring landscape. The flanks were protected by vast deserts and to the north, the Mediterranean Sea. To the south was the Nile River. Although strategically positioned, Egypt's defensive advantages were not enough and this was proven with the invasion of the Hyksos. Before this invasion, most of the conflicts were civil wars between feuding nobles. Ancient Egyptian armies were primarily composed of conscript soldiers. These conscript soldiers were by and large, men from surrounding villages, who would serve during times of battle then return home once the conflict was finished. However, with the invasion of the Hyksos, the need for a formidable, more permanent army arose. Over the next few pages we will reveal the path from semi-organized, barely professional and poorly equipped conscripts to a high functioning, well weaponized, full time army.

Early in the Archaic Period, the 'soldiers' would have been equipped a variety of crude stone and wood weapons as well as a heavy shield to hide behind. They rarely wore armor due to the extreme heat of the desert. Later in this period, the import of obsidian allowed for extremely sharp points for their weapons, more so than the copper counterparts. Egyptians utilized bow and arrow in a volley of fire that would weaken the enemy allowing the main ground force to come in and pummel them with hand held and thrown weaponry. Sticks, although crude and practically useless, were used as they were cheap and abundant.

As the periods progressed into the Old Kingdom, the Egyptians still did not have a full time army, but the government began to recognize the needs of the military. Forts were constructed to protect now far reaching boundaries of Egypt. Foreigners, the Nubians and Sherden, were hired into the armies . Conscript armies, divided into divisions called Nomes, reported to the Pharaoh; however, on occasion, the Pharaoh would have to suppress uprisings within the Nomes by force in order to keep control. Still at this point, there was no advancement in weaponry or training.

In researching how the Egyptian soldier might have been clothed, I reviewed archeological recordings of 'Old Kingdom graffiti', or petroglyphs. "The most telling is what appears to be a self-portrait of a soldier: a full-length depiction of a standing male wearing a triangular kilt, the common male garb of Old Kingdom Egypt." "The chest is crossed by two bands and the figure wears a feather on his head, which is typical of soldiers' regalia." "Behind him is his equipment: a leather wrist-guard and a bow with five arrows, one of which is placed in the bow."

Although the armies are organized as they were in the Old Kingdom, as the Middle Kingdom unfolds, the borders of Egypt have been pushed to great distances requiring more protection. As a result,



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