By and large, ancient Egypt is considered to be one of the most peaceful of ancient civilizations — so peaceful, in fact, that they did not have a proper army until the invasion of the Hyksos during their 15th Dynasty! For the longest time, the extent of their military consisted of foot soldiers whose biggest job might involve settling civil unrest. There were still palace guards and those who watched the borders of the country, not to mention men whose job it was to guard trade ships, but until it was absolutely necessary, that was the mainstay of their army.
Prior to the Hyksos invasion, fighting was less prevalent in ancient Egypt ; warfare involved campaigns sent out to unify the country, and other, smaller disputes often required the use of foreign mercenaries. Because of their strong leanings toward religion, Egyptians did not have a drive to leave their own lands to fight foreign armies in case they were unable to give the proper funeral rites to their fallen soldiers. When the Hyksos invaded Lower Egypt, they introduced the country to weapons and protective gear never before seen that close to the Nile .
Because of the invaders, walls in the tombs of dead nobles and kings were covered in paintings of ancient Egyptian war chariots being driven with an archer who steered the horses with the reins tied around his waist. Other weapons used by the ancient Egyptian army included clubs and maces, as well as axes, knives, and swords; 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 armor.
The Egyptians also used siege weaponry when necessary, such as towers and battering rams. During the time of Amenhotep III and beyond, a good portion of the enlisted men were prisoners of war. Recruits from Nubia and other neighboring areas were also brought in, and eventually a good percentage of Egyptian men were required to join the military, especially towards the time of continuous war due to invaders from not only surrounding areas but from Greece and Rome, as well. As the ancient Egyptians were a very religious people, they had many gods and goddess to pray to.
This included the Egyptian god of war, Onuris, who is in many ways similar to Ares, the Greek god of war. His Egyptian name, Anhur, means “he who leads back the distant one. ” He is considered to be the son of Ra, the sun god, and is believed to hunt down and kill the enemies of his father. Ancient Egypt and its people went from being very religious and peaceful to needing to keep their lands free of foreign hands. It worked well for them for a while, at least, though with the invasion of Alexander the Great and his army, Egypt never quite regained what it had been before.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 3 January 2017
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