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Ancient Egypt Military Topics


About Ancient Egypt

 

The Blunt Instrument: A Weapon of Enduring Fascination in Ancient Egypt by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox



A mace is basically nothing more than a wooden club with a head made of some heavy and hard material, such as stone. Stone mace heads were first used nearly 6,000 years ago in predynastic Egypt. The earliest known are disc maces with beautifully formed stones mounted to their handle. As one of the earliest weapons in ancient Egypt, the mace was guaranteed fame as a source of Pharaoh's prowess for some 3,000 years, long after it was abandoned asa practical weapon.

The Chariot in Egyptian Warfare by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox


Actually, the chariot is difficult to classify as a piece of military equipment. It was certainly a mode of transportation, but at the same time, most analyst consider it a weapon. Clearly, in the hands of the Hittites, one of Egypt's chief opponents during the New Kingdom, their heavy machines were weapons used to crash into the troops of their enemies. However, the Egyptian chariots were not used in the same manner, and their use was more of a supporting role to the archers who manned them.



A Confederate in King Ismail's Court by Jimmy Dunn Ismail,


who built the Suez Canal, was struggling with debt to Europe, and a possible takeover of Egypt by European interests. If, for instance, he could have depended on his army he would at least have had some sort of support against the European embrace and against rising popular hatred. If he'd been a Mameluke sultan he would simply have purchased a new supply of Mamelukes to replace his corrupt Turkish and Albanian officers. But the Mameluke system was dead, so he looked around for other outsiders and he found them in the United States of America.

The Crusades in Egypt by Jimmy Dunn


During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the major Muslim powers were fighting amongst themselves. The Sunni Muslims led by the Seljuq sultan attention was directed towards the Fatimid Muslims. However, small factions of unruly adventurers and war bands controlled by neither major Islamic power lived on the edge of the Byzantine empire. It was their raids and trouble making that provoked the Byzantine emperor Romanus Diogenes to raise a large army and advance against the Seljuq led Sunni Muslims.

Defensive Equipment of the Egyptian Army by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox


Ultimately, and outside of military architecture such as fortresses, the ancient Egyptians used three forms of defensive military equipment, which included body armor and helmets, shields and siege shelters, though most of these items were seen fairly late in the Dynastic period (with the exception of the shield, which may be dated back as for as the predynastic period. It is perhaps obvious that defensive equipment often dictated the development and evolution of offensive weapons.

Edged, Close Combat Weapons of the Ancient Egyptians by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox


Axes were probably used very early in Egyptian warfare, though at first they were perhaps no different than the tool used for peaceful purposes, such as cutting would. As a practical weapon, it was the battle axe that eventually replaced the mace as one of the Egyptian military's primary close combat weapons. Infantry armed with battle axes were typically deployed after the enemy had been weakened by archers. The axe was more effective in cutting wounded or fleeing enemies to pieces than it was in breaching an intact battle line.



The Enemies of Ancient Egypt by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox


The earliest depictions we have of Egyptian kings portray the motif of prostrate foreigners as a symbol of Egyptian supremacy over the rest of mankind. For example, the Narmer Palette shows the king in his efforts to rid the world of such aberrations as the "vile Asiatic". Here, we find the trampling of the "Nine Bows", as the Egyptian referred to their enemies, as a vivid embodiment of the king's supremacy over foreigners (and sometimes even other Egyptians). The figure "nine" represented three times three, which was the "plurality of Pluralities", thus designating the entirety of all enemies.

The Equipment of Pharaoh's Military by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox

Besides the many depictions of battles on various temple walls, and hence the weapons that were employed, we owe much of our knowledge of ancient Egyptian military equipment to painted wooden models that have been found in several tombs. We can classify Egyptian military equipment as consisting of weapons, defensive equipment, transport equipment, and various other items. Weapons consisted of impact weapons such as clubs, cudgels and mace, edged close combat weapons including axes, knives and swords and projectile weapons such as bows and arrows, slingshots, javelins, spears and throwing sticks.

The Evolution of Warfare: Part I by Anita Stratos


The Evolution of Warfare: Part II by Anita Stratos


Egypt was considered to be the most peaceful country in the ancient world. Its natural boundaries (the First Cataract on the Nile at Aswan, the deserts east and west of the Nile Valley, and the Mediterranean coast to the north) provided plenty of protection from outsiders, and Egyptians themselves were not a society of invaders or conquerors. Therefore, the country didnt consider the need for a professional army until the invasion of the Hyksos during the 15th Dynasty in the Second Intermediate Period. Up until that time, Egypt had a loosely organized, part-time army and crude, inferior weapons. The army that was raised in times of need, i.e., during civil unrest, consisted of conscripts, who were generally peasants and artisans, led by noblemen.

Who Were the Hittities by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox


The Hittites, who at the time of Egypt's New Kingdom were a major enemy of of the Egyptian empire, were a people who once lived in what is modern Turkey and northern Syria. Most of what we know about them today comes from ancient texts that have been recovered. It would seem that the first indication of their existence occurred in about 1900 BC, in the region that was to become Hatti. There, they established the town of Nesa. Over the next three hundred years, their influence grew until in about 1680 BC, a true empire was born.



Who Were the Hyksos by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox


The Hyksos were an important influence on Egyptian history, particularly at the beginning of the Second Intermediate Period. Most of what we know of the nature of the Hyksos depends upon written sources (of the Egyptians), such as the Rhind Papyrus. Also of considerable importance is the systematic excavation of their capital, Avaris (Tell el-Dab'a). Aamu was the contemporary term used to distinguish the people of Avaris, the Hyksos capital in Egypt, from Egyptians. Egyptologists conventionally translate aamu as "asiatics"

Leading Up to the Battle of Kadesh by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox


The Battle of Kadesh is one of the best known military actions of history because it is the earliest battle that can be reliably reconstructed from various records on either side. Fought between Ramesses II, a famous pharaoh, and the Hittites under Muwatallish (along with a number of allies), this battle over control of Syrian territory has received considerable attention by many analysts over the years. However, in order to completely understand this historical event, it is necessary to examine the history that led up to this famous battle, for it was very literally hundreds of years in the making.

The Battle of Kadesh by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox


The Battle of Kadesh fought by Ramesses II was a long time in the making, and not the first to be fought between the Hattities and Egyptians over this small, but strategically located vassal state. Ramesses II had probably accompanied his father, Seti I on one similar campaign prior to his ascending the throne of Egypt. However, though Seti I may have taken Kadesh, by the time of Ramesses II's reign, it was back in the hands of the Hattities, so the king decided to return it to the Egyptian fold.

The Battle of Megiddo by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox


In 1479 BC, Tuthmosis III moved against the king of Kadesh in Palestine, who had instigated other cities in the region to join him in revolt against Egypt, and who was undoubtedly backed by the military might of the Mitanni empire. Mitanni had created a network of vassal city-states in this region during the early 15th century BC. The king of Kadesh and his allies occupied Megiddo, a fortress which controlled the major military and trade road north to Lebanon and east to the Euphrates.

Military Architecture of Ancient Egypt by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox


For most of Egypt's ancient history, it was a land of fortifications. To some extent, all Egyptian ceremonial buildings, including temples and even funerary complexes, were intended to function as bastions of order and harmony, requiring at least symbolic fortifications to protect them from the surrounding chaos. And from the very beginning, we find references to Egypt's attempts to fortify their country, for the Memphis of Menes, united Egypt's earliest King, was known as Ineb-Hedj, meaning; the "White Wall". In fact, the earliest surviving Egyptian fortifications were built to protect towns rather than to defend frontiers.

The Military Man in Ancient Egypt by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox


To be in the military in ancient Egypt might have been difficult, but the officers and men were certainly in good company. After all, it was common for the son's of kings to serve, and on campaigns, the king often led his troops into battle. In fact, when there were dynastic problems in ancient Egypt, it was often the soldier who became king, such as Horemheb at the end of the 18th Dynasty. However, while there is considerable evidence of the favors bestowed upon elite troops and officers, assessing the fate of the ordinary soldier, who didn't leave tombs decorated with scenes from his life, is more difficult.

The Ancient Egyptian Navy by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox


The very earliest naval battle is depicted on the carved relief decoration of a Naqada II ivory knife handle that was found at Gebel al-Arak. It shows boats with high, straight prows and sterns, usually interpreted as foreign vessels. The early Nile boats used for military purposes seem to have been primarily used for the transportation of troops up and down the Nile, and indeed, Egypt's early conflicts were mostly internal control issues. We do find reliefs in the 5th Dynasty mortuary temple of King Sahure at Abusir depicting a sea-borne fleet that is said to have transported his army to Syria, and in the 6th Dynasty, the official Weni is said to have taken troops to Palestine in vessels described as nmiw (traveling ships).

Projectile Type Weapons of Ancient Egypt Egypt by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox


Projectile weapons were used by the ancient Egyptian army, as well as other period military, as standoff weapons, usually used in order to soften up the enemy prior to an infantry assault. At various times during Egypt's history, different weapons were used, including throw sticks, spears or javelins, bows and arrows and slingshots. Of these, certainly the bow and arrow became the primary projectile weapon for most of Egypt's history, and yet, all of these weapons continued in some use almost throughout the Dynastic period.

The Military Campaigns of Seti I by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox


Seti I, the second king of Egypt's 19th Dynasty, clearly signaled his ambition to restore Egypt's prestige of the earlier 18th Dynasty when he adopted the title, "Repeater of Birth" for his Horus name, which alluded to an inauguration of a new beginning of Egypt's greatness. He fought a number of campaigns of which three were in Canaan and Syria. Another one was against the Libyans and there seems to have also been a policing action in Nubia. For the first time, perhaps since the reign of Tuthmosisi IV, this pharaoh personally lead the army into Egypt's Asiatic possessions.

Siege Warfare in Ancient Egypt by Jimmy Dunn writing as Troy Fox


It is clear that the Egyptians did posses the means to conduct siege warfare, though in reality, like other powers in the region, they tried to avoid this type of battle where possible. They preferred to force a military decision on the battlefield. However, with the large number of fortified cities throughout Palestine and Canaan, they were forced to employ siege warfare, though they were probably less adapt at this form of battle then some of their neighbors.

Who Were the Sea People by Robert Anderson


The Sea People, who we are told of on reliefs at Medinet Habu and Karnak, as well as from the text of the Great Harris Papyrus (now in the British Museum), are said to be a loose confederation of people originating in the eastern Mediterranean. From their individual names, we believe that they may specifically have come from the Aegean and Asia Minor. However, regardless of their organization as a "loose confederation", they did manage to invade Egypt's northern coast and apparently mounted campaigns against the Egyptians on more than one occasion.

Ships and Boats of Egypt by Marie Parsons


When men live by water, whether marsh, river, or sea, they eventually discover ways to build vehicles to move across that water. Egypts life has always turned around its River, the Nile, and its marshes in the Delta.

The Taking of Egypt (By the Arabs) by Jimmy Dunn


Egypt's conquest by the Muslims was not a simple affair, and there were many factors that allowed this to happen. It was the results of both external conflict between the Persian and Byzantine empires which weakened both, as well as internal conflicts between the Byzantines and Coptic Monophysites. If either had not existed, Egypt may very well have remained in other hands for much of its post Dynastic existence. Indeed, it might have remained the bread basket of Rome and the Middle East might be a very different place then it is today. However, with 5,000 troops, the Arabs marched into Egypt and with the aid of another 10,000 reinforcements, took this greatest of ancient lands as theirs. In this article, we explore the taking of Egypt by Amr ibn al-'AS for his Caliph, Umar.

Last Updated: June 12th, 2011

 

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