Introduction - Ancient Egyptian SoldiersEarly in its history ancient Egypt did not have a regular standing army of trained professional soldiers, if needed the Pharaoh would call upon regular citizens to defend the civilization. Over time the need for a regular army, with full-time well trained soldiers was recognized. This became especially apparent when the Hyksos people invaded and conquered Lower Egypt. On this page is a list of interesting facts about ancient Egyptian soldiers written for kids and adults. Information on this page includes where they lived, what weapons they used, and how they were trained.
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Interesting Ancient Egyptian Soldiers Facts
- At times during its long history young Egyptian men would be required to become soldiers through a conscription. At other times there was no conscription and joining the ancient Egyptian army was voluntary.
- The Structure of the ancient Egyptian army varied throughout its long history but was usually well organized. For example during the reign of the famous Pharaoh Ramses II the army was comprised of four divisions (Seth, Amun, Ptah and Re), which were further divided into 20 companies, each company was sub-divided into five platoons.
- Soldiers lived in the barracks at the various forts or camps constructed in ancient Egypt. These buildings were made of mud bricks that kept the soldiers cool in the extremely hot desert temperatures.
- The soldiers ate mostly bread along with some vegetables.
- An Egyptian soldier's life could be extremely boring and monotonous at times especially if stationed at one of the many forts that protected ancient Egypt's borders. These forts often never saw action or would not be involved in action for months or years at a time.
- Soldiers would often go on long campaigns that would take them away from home for months at a time.
- When not needed on military campaigns or for defense of the civilization ancient Egyptian soldiers were often put to work farming and as laborers.
- Their uniforms were simple; usually just a short kilt made of linen. They wore sandals on their feet. They wore so little due to the need to stay as cool as possible in the blistering desert heat. They rarely wore armor and depended instead solely on a shield for defense. Sometimes they would wear armor made of hardened leather straps.
- The Ancient Egyptian soldiers were trained by a drill master. Training would involve how to use weapons, hand-to-hand combat, and tactics. The soldiers went through drills and exercise that put them in great physical shape.
- Punishment in the ancient Egyptian military was harsh and beatings over minor infractions were common.
- For most of its history ancient Egypt did not use money; payments were made with commodities such as food. A typical Egyptian soldier would be paid a few loafs of bread a day along with a jug or two of beer. Higher ranking soldiers received more commodities.
- Soldiers who acted bravely in battle could gain great rewards including medals, promotions, land, and sometimes slaves.
- The soldiers of ancient Egypt utilized a variety of weapons which varied based on the period in history. These weapons included spears, Axes, Bows and Arrows, slings, and swords. Eventually the Chariot was incorporated into the military.
- An interesting fact is that young boys, some only five years old, were sent to be in the army. They did not engage in combat until much older.
- Egyptians often hired foreign soldiers (mercenaries) to battle with them. This was particularly the case on military campaigns far away from Egypt.
- Often the sons of the Egyptian Pharaohs would serve as soldiers in the ancient Egyptian military.