The New Kingdom period (from 1550BC to 1070BC) featured the Egyptian military of the pharaohs as one of the greatest fighting forces in the ancient world. It was able to maintain its gallantry on the battlefield due to the use of an array of weapons. In the early part of Egypt’s history, the kingdom made use of axes, bows, wooden-tipped spears, arrows, and stone maces in its several strings of combats against tribesmen from Libya and Nubia.
The ancient Egyptians also had to fight off the Hyskos invaded from Syria. They were so good they overran Egypt around 1650 with their more advanced weapons like their dependable composite bows and fast chariots. The Second Intermediate Period was a century of serious disgrace for the Egyptians, so they became proactive.
They carefully studied their invaders, which led them to develop a new set of very efficient and dangerous weapons. Pharaoh Ahmose I led the liberation and reuniting of Egypt and emerged the first pharaoh of the New Kingdom. It was a very prosperous time for Egypt, and it revamped its military arsenal, which immensely helped its expansion. The following are seven primary weapons that the Egyptian army used in its military domination:
- Shield and Bronze-Tipped Spear: The spearmen formed the bulk of the Egyptian army as it was the practice back then. The spearmen carried the ikem (shield made from wood) in their left and a dja (bronze-tipped spear) in their right. They were known for gripping on the enemy camp in close formations. The spears were long, allowing the soldiers to battle their enemies while getting protection from the shields. The tip was made from bronze, so it was resilient and sharp when it comes to the piercing of their infantry troops’ leather armor. Just a relatively small amount of precious bronze was needed and making the spears was very easy since wood was the primary material. The pharaohs quickly fit hundreds of soldiers with the spears and got them battle-ready at a moment’s notice.
- Javelin: The javelin used by the ancient Egyptian military was a very handy tool, and it was perfect for close combat. The soldiers kept a quiver of these javelins neatly over their shoulders the same way they packaged the arrows. A thrust from the javelin from behind the shield was deadly to the enemies. They were also able to direct the javelin at the chariot forces’ armors or even the infantrymen. The javelins were tipped with metal blades so that the throw would be more efficient and deadly.
- Battle Axe: This served as a secondary weapon, and it was kept in the soldier’s waistband or slung upon the shoulder in battle. It was good for attacking foes in close combat and it was also used for smashing the shield of an enemy or landing devastating blows on the enemies. In the earlier times, the Egyptian forces’ enemies did not use armor so they designed the blades of their battle-axes to be moon-shaped, which landed deep cuts. They modified the design of the battle-axes they used depending on the protective gear used by the enemies.
- Mace-Ax: The conventional war mace they used was shaped to be like a club. The maces were composed of handles of wood and the head crafted out of stone. It was used mainly to smash the bronze armor and also break the swords launched by enemies.
- Short Swords: Daggers and swords were not even going to be a feature in the Egyptian arsenal if not for Hyksos’ introduction. They came with the finest bronze casting techniques that allowed for the development of short swords that could remain reliable and durable during fighting and relentless combats. There were two kinds of Egyptian combat short swords. One was sharp-tipped and shaped like a dagger, which was used for stabbing the enemy nearby. The other one had flat sides and was longer with a rounded end. It was used for attacking the enemy from a distance and was praised for its excellence.
- Khopesh: The pharaohs greatly depended on this notorious weapon. It was a curved sword that had its blade shaped like a question mark. The cutting side of the blade was outside the curve and pharaohs used it with devastating results. It was so important and revered that when Pharaoh Tutankhamen died, he was entombed with a pair of khopeshes.
- Composite Bow: The Egyptians had depended on the simple self bow before the Hyskos invasion, but they soon learned of the more dangerous composite bow from the Syrian troops. The complicated piece was made using the animal horn, wood, and sinew, which allowed for incredible strength. The hybrid nature allowed it to be able to launch an arrow to a distance of as much as 300 meters – imposing by every standard.