In Ancient Egypt, the head of the army was the Pharaoh. However, he didn’t do a lot to lead his forces. He appointed two generals to take care of this for him: one who led the army in Upper Egypt, and one who led the army in Lower Egypt.
Each army had three main parts: the Infantry (foot soldiers,) the Chariotry (soldiers who rode in chariots,) and the Navy (soldiers who fought at sea.) The generals of the Pharaoh’s army were usually the Pharaoh’s close relatives; for example, their sons or brothers!
For most of its long history, Ancient Egypt was ruled peacefully under one government – and under the undisputed rule of the Pharaoh – which meant that the main concern for the country’s military was keeping enemy nations and peoples out.
The plains surrounding Egypt were populated by tribes of nomads (people who moved from place to place and never settled down) who would sometimes to try to raid or settle in the fertile Nile River valley (the Nile River being the most important and sacred river in Ancient Egypt).
Most of the cities in Ancient Egypt lacked city walls and other defenses, so to defend from their attacks, the Ancient Egyptians built fortresses along the borders east and west of the Nile.
Small groups of soldiers could stop minor attacks, but if a large force invaded, a message was sent for more soldiers to come help. But this defense did not require most of the army to stay ready to fight; so outside of wartime, the army was used for tasks other than fighting and defense.
Since their training made them so strong, Ancient Egyptian soldiers were excellent as laborers and farm workers.
The Egyptian army worked the fields during harvest time, and played an important role as builders on important construction sites like those of palaces, temples, and pyramids. This work would have been extremely difficult, but it’s likely they were happy to do it.
The soldiers of Ancient Egypt were generally very religious. Before each battle, Ancient Egyptian soldiers would pray or make offerings to their gods of war.
This was mandatory (meaning they had to do it, or else they’d be punished,) because going to war for Egypt was regarded as a holy act. Most of the army divisions were named after gods because of this.
But the life of an Egyptian soldier was extremely difficult. Some began training for combat at as young as five, (though they didn’t begin fighting in wars until they were 20) and they had to train regularly to keep up their strength and stamina.
Because the Ancient Egyptians didn’t wear much armor, the soldiers were trained to move very quickly so they could avoid being hurt or stabbed. The only armor they wore was made of leather, and didn’t offer much protection from sharp weapons.
They also trained with all different types of weapons (swords, knives, spears, bows) and depending on which they were best with, they would go to different divisions of the army.
For example, if they were good at using a bow, they would become an archer. The Ancient Egyptian soldiers were trained by a coach called a “drill master.” These drill masters were often very cruel to their soldiers, and punishment over small rules being broken was common.
When they did go to battle, it was often on “expeditions” (or long trips) that would last for months at a time. But in return for putting up with the hard work of being a soldier, the members of the Ancient Egyptian military were rewarded with great public respect.
When they won battles, they were also awarded treasure and land, with many of Egypt’s wealthiest people being the generals of its army.
Facts about the Ancient Egyptian Soldiers and Military
- The pharaoh was the head of the Ancient Egyptian army.
- The pharaoh would appoint two generals to oversee the army in their place.
- The army was split into three main parts: the infantry, chariotry, and navy.
- Archers were very important in the Ancient Egyptian military, as the bow and arrow was the weapon used the most.
- Some Egyptian soldiers began training at as young as five.
- Depending on what weapon they were best with, a soldier would be sent to fight in different parts of the army.
- The soldiers were trained by commanders called “drill leaders.”
- Many soldiers worked as builders and farmers outside of wartime.
- When they won battles, soldiers were rewarded with land and treasure.
- Who was the head of the Ancient Egyptian army?
– The Pharaoh.
- How many generals did the Pharaoh appoint to lead the army?
- What were the three main parts of the military?
– Infantry, chariotry, navy.
- What age did soldiers begin to fight in Ancient Egypt?
- What did soldiers do outside of wartime?
– Worked as laborers and farmers. Protected towns. Prayed. Trained.
- Back to – Ancient Egypt