centuries, Ancient Egyptians needed no permanent army. Egyptians seldom had to
defend themselves against enemies, other than the Libyan tribes who attacked
occasionally from the Western Desert. After the Middle Kingdom, however, the
Hyksos from the Near East seized lower Egypt. They had curved swords, strong
bows, body armour and horse-drawn chariots. The Egyptians copied these weapons
and began training efficient soldiers. Their new army drove out the hated Hyksos
and pushed them back through Palestine and Syria. Prisoners of war were forced
to join the army or work as slaves. Egyptians built their mud-brick forts with
massive towers surrounded by ditches to defend their borders. Later, Rameses III
formed a navy of wooden galleys powered by oars and sails, and trapped the
slower sailing ships of pirates invading the Mediterranean Sea.
Archers fired from moving chariots. They advanced on the enemy foot-soldiers,
then doubled back and attacked from behind.
These soldiers – carrying
shields and lances – represent a troop from the fifth nome of Egypt.
Foot-soldiers trained for the Army from boyhood. They had to live near the
barracks where discipline was very tough. Upper-class youths usually joined the
chariot corps, which was organised quite separately. Successful battle
commanders received “gold of bravery” flies.