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Ancient Egyptian Military


During the Old Kingdom, the Egyptian Army was mostly made up of farmers recruited by local governors. The farmers were called upon to fight when the Pharaoh needed them to defend the country. Egypt was surrounded by deserts and seas that formed natural barriers to invading armies. Because of these natural barriers, the Egyptians did not see the need for a standing army.


During the Second Intermediate Period, Lower Egypt (the northern section) was conquered by the Hyksos. The Hyksos used chariots. This gave them an advantage over the Egyptians.. This tactical advantage allowed them to capture a large part of the Egyptian territory, including Memphis, the capital of Egypt.


When the Egyptians were finally able to expel the Hyksos, they built up their army. Their units now included charioteers, infantry, and archers. In addition to Egyptian fighters, many foreign mercenaries were part of the Egyptian army.


The chariots were manned by two soldiers. The driver steered the two horses that pulled the chariot. The second soldier was armed with a bow, a spear or sword, and a shield. The second unit, the archers, was armed with bows that could shoot up to 650 feet (200 meters). The infantry was armed with short swords or battle-axes. They did not wear any armor, but they carried large shields for protection.


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