Introduction - Egyptian MilitaryThe ancient Egyptian military went through many changes from 3150 BC, when this civilization unified into one kingdom, through 31 BC when the Roman Empire conquered it. They developed one of the greatest military forces in the history of the world. On this page you will find a list of interesting kid-friendly facts about the military of ancient Egypt; information includes how the military changed and why Egypt needed a strong military force. This information is written for both kids and adults. In this category of Ancient Egyptian Facts you will find information on all aspects of the ancient Egyptian military, including what weapons they used, who became soldiers, tactics they used, and what some of the famous battles were.
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Interesting Ancient Egyptian Military Facts
- The pharaoh was the main military commander and made all final military decisions. At times certain pharaohs would actually lead their army into battle but usually they would leave this to their generals.
- The pharaohs relied on their generals for advice and to carry out their orders. The amount of reliance depended on the particular pharaoh.
- Since generals were given great power (the command of an army), and could pose a threat to the pharaoh, they were often trusted members of the royal family; often the pharaoh's son. Another method used to limit the power of generals was to divide the army in half giving command of each half to a separate general.
- Throughout its history ancient Egypt was concerned about invasion; from early on in its history nomadic tribes would raid Egypt and attempt to gain fertile land in the Nile River valley. A strong military was needed to defend against these invasions.
- Numerous forts were built by the ancient Egyptians to defend its borders. Garrisons of just a few soldiers were stationed in the forts but if a large enemy force appeared more soldiers could be deployed. The forts had towers from which soldiers could shoot arrows down on their enemy, thick walls and were surrounded by ditches.
- Ancient Egypt's military defense was aided by great expanses of desert which surrounded the ancient civilization. It was very difficult for attacking armies to cross these deserts.
- Besides defense ancient Egypt needed a strong military in order to expand its borders through conquest and in order to protect trade routes.
- Before the New Kingdom (1570 BC - 1544 BC) the ancient Egyptian military was composed of temporary soldiers. These soldiers would be recruited for a particular military campaign and then return home to their regular jobs upon completion of the campaign. This changed in the New Kingdom with the formation of an army of professional fulltime soldiers. This change was necessary in part due to the need to conduct foreign military campaigns a great distance from home where soldiers could be away from home for years at a time.
- Prior to the New Kingdom (1570 BC - 1544 BC) the pharaohs relied on the nomarch's (the governors of regions of ancient Egypt) to recruit soldiers for the army when necessary. These soldiers were untrained in warfare. With the new kingdom the pharaohs had a full-time army of professional soldiers under their command and they no longer needed to rely on the nomarchs.
- Religion was infused in every aspect of ancient Egyptian life and the military was no exception. Religious ceremonies were held before battles and soldiers wore religious symbols meant to empower and protect them.
- The ancient Egyptian military incorporated mercenary troops; foreigners paid to be in the Egyptian army.