Ancient Egyptian Soldiers – Warriors of Pharaoh
Ancient Egyptian soldiers were the main ingredient of what made ancient Egypt a great civilization. The military might of ancient Egypt was what translated the pharaoh’s ideas and tactics into reality. They are also one of the factors that kept ancient Egypt continuous for over 3000 years.
At first, there was no standing army, meaning ancient Egyptian soldiers were brought together from different villages in order to be trained and serve in a military campaign, and then disband once the campaign was over.
The young men would then go back to their old jobs and villages. But once the advantage of having a dedicated army of soldiers was seen, the permanent army was set up in the New Kingdom and the career of the soldier was created.
So, based on those two avenues, there were two ways to be part of the army:
- National Service – You could just join as an adult recruit to train/serve for a year or two, with the possibility of being called back to serve any time after that.
- Military Career – You were signed up as a child to serve in the army your whole life.
Some military men rose to such great power as to become kings themselves…
…the pride and glory of a military life then became a most-coveted aspect of this as a career choice.
So once this career was chosen, the child was signed up and began training. Some children signed up as young as 5 years of age!
The actual service however didn’t start until the age of 20 – older than some armies today.
Ancient Egyptian Military Training
After becoming a new recruit, the ancient Egyptian soldier got a haircut and had an induction… the inductions included beatings to show who’s boss. Soldiers needed to learn the important lesson of obeying orders before they were given any.
Now that the soldier was ready, the training began. Training for strength, fighting skills and stamina were the main tasks. They included:
- Sand-bag lifting
- Free fighting
- Knife throwing
- Target practice
- Stick fighting
And according to the soldier’s superior skills, he was then assigned to the corresponding regiment.
Ancient Egyptian Soldiers, Ready for Battle
Now that a soldier has had a hard induction and even harder training, he was now almost ready for his first campaign.
But of course, he needs to be armed.
Some of the more popular weapons of choice in ancient Egypt include:
- Bow & Arrow
- Knives and swords
Other than weapons, soldiers had to wear helmets, scales, gloves and shields for protection…
…they also had another form of protection – magical and religious icons on jewelry, for example, were popular.
And on top of all that, they had to carry food and water They would also sometimes hunt or fish.
The men were divided into infantry divisions that grouped similarly-skilled soldiers together: Charioteers, spearmen, foot soldiers, etc.
And now the army was ready to march! And along with them, others followed: musicians, scribes to record the events, military standard carriers, and others.
And when the battle was over, they’d collect the booty and bring back the captured enemies, some of whom would become slaves.
But what if there was no campaign? Other than the usual training, ancient Egyptian soldiers were called on to help out with non-military tasks:
- Some went as part of envoys to foreign countries, doing trade expeditions and the like. This was one of Queen Hatshepsut’s greatest endeavors.
- Helping with the harvest was of of the most important tasks, as this was what fed the entire country.
- Guard duty such as making sure the trade routes were secure.
- And also – hard manual labor such as construction.
Ancient Egyptian Soldiers sought the prestige that comes with being a national warrior and hero. They were more widely respected than others of the working class, and they gained recognition from the elite and even the royal family.
There were also formal awards for heroism and duty.
Soldiers were paid wages, which in ancient Egypt were not monetary. They were given rations of food which could be bartered for other items. However, they were also given the opportunity to plunder – a plus that came with war.
And finally, ancient Egyptian soldiers were those of the lucky few that got State Pensions.
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