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Ancient Egyptian Soldiers

Until the invasion of Hykos in the Second Intermediate Period, , a proper army remained absent in ancient Egypt. Prior to it, there were only palace guards and trade escorts. When Egypt established a well-built army, the need for soldiers emerged. The Ancient Egyptian soldier had either decided that this was a good career choice and could lead to security and advancement or the other type of soldier was the conscript who joined the armed forces of Egypt against his will.

This was because people were often forced to join the military. The Ancient Egyptian Military consisted of both an army and a navy. Some people would cause themselves damage, such as breaking their thumbs to exclude them from conscription into the army. But some military men, who were active and willing, even rose to the level of rulers.

 Ancient Egyptian Soldiers

Ancient Egyptian Soldiers

Ancient Egyptian Soldiers

Ancient Egyptian Soldiers



Ancient Egyptian Soldiers

 Ancient Egyptian Soldiers


A raw recruit in the army underwent rigorous training. A soldier first received a regimented hair cut and in later Egyptian periods was issued with a coat of wadded leather and a leather or bronze helmet. The Ancient Egyptian soldier was expected to achieve a high level of fitness and was under the authority of the drill master.

Wrestling, Sand-bag lifting, Archery, Knife-throwing, Stick-fighting- all formed a part of the training. An Ancient Egyptian soldier was expected to be able to cover 32 kilometres in one day. Discipline was strict and punishments, by beatings, were severe. The role of the Ancient Egyptian soldier was to either defend the country or be prepared to make pre-emptive strikes against their enemies.

A series of fortresses were built on strategic locations on each of the borders of Egypt. Many of the soldiers were sent to these forts, a boring, monotonous but relatively safe role which brought little reward. The rewards to a brave soldier included not only promotion and medals but also goods, grants of lands, pensions on retirement and even slaves.

As the economy of Ancient Egypt was based on barter system, a low-ranked Egyptian soldier was paid ten loaves of bread and jugs of beer a day. Wages increased with higher rank of the soldier. Soldiers were allowed to plunder the enemy when they won a battle. The soldier was equipped with a variety of different weapons which, by the period of the New Kingdom included the clubs and maces, as well as axes, knives, and swords.


ancient egyptian soldiers weapons

ancient egyptian military chariots

ancient egyptian military and soldiers

ancient egyptian army and soldiers


They were also handy with projectile weapons such as spears, bows and arrows, and javelins. Shields were the main bit of defensive equipment, with the occasional use of limited body armour. The Egyptians also used siege weaponry when necessary, such as towers and battering rams. These soldiers were divided into 4 divisions of 5000 who were named after the gods Seth, Amun, Ptah and Re. Each of these divisions was divided into 20 companies which in turn consisted of 250 soldiers. These were finally divided into 5 platoons of fifty men.

The chain of command, in order of rank can be summarised as:

1. King, commander in chief
2. General, or overseer of the army, who reported directly to the king
3. Lieutenant commander, serving as senior officer
4. Overseer of the Nubian frontier and Mediterranean coast fortresses
5. Overseer of garrison troops
6. Troop commander, in charge of several regiments, a brigade or a fortress
7. Captain of the troop
8. Commander of 250 soldiers
9. Standard-bearer, controlling 200 men
10. "Greatest of Fifty", the lowest commander

 

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