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What is the Military Arm?


What: Pharaoh was the Military Commander and made all final decisions

Who: Generals had great power and often posed a threat to Pharaoh so they were usually trusted members of the Royal Family

Where: Main Force in the Capital City; with Fortresses manned by Garrisons of Guards along the East and West borders, inside the Eastern Desert and in the South facing Nubia; especially along the Nile River 

Why: Military was permanently established to keep Egypt’s enemies out and evolved from there


The Old Kingdom Period

There was no standing army during the Old Kingdom Period. An Army could be raised when needed from the various Nomes of Egypt. The conflict came from:

  • the West from the Libyans via the Sahara Desert
  • the South from the Nubians
  • the North from the Sinai and Canaanites
  • sometimes from internal conflict when the Nomes formed rival factions

The main opposition was usually from the Nubians. 

During the Old Kinggdom, the Army would use Shields and Spears; Cudgels and Maces; Daggers; Bows and Arrows.

The Middle Kingdom Period

Pharaoh brought in standing Armies which were kept training to a certain standard in the 12th Dynasty. So, if an Invasion occurred further troops were raised again from the various Nomes.


The Second Intermediate Period

With a collapsed Government in the country, the Army became trapped between the Hyksos to the North and the Kushite Nubians to the South. It appears to have been the time when the horse drawn Battle Chariot, the Ourarit, and the composite bow as tools were introduced. As you can imagine, these remarkably transformed the functioning of the Military.

The New Kingdom Period

In the New Kingdom, the Hittites from the North-East became the largest threat as they looked to conquer Egypt, but instead signed a Peace Treaty with Pharaoh Ramses II, with regrets that their Infantry was not as strong as Egypt’s. The Sea Peoples invaded and remained a strong threat, but the Military was robust and tenacious enough to repel their advances. The light, fast and manoeuvrable chariots and the skills of the Driver and Bow Fighter were second to none. Which, when combined with the new advances in body armour, helmets and weaponry, made them highly imposing.


The Late Period

When Alexander the Great conquered Egypt the Military became heavily influenced by the Greeks and their Military styles.



The Infantry

  • The soldiers, usually from the Lower Classes of Society, both native and mercenaries, were paid for their work as well as being housed, fed and trained
  • Divided into 4 Groupings, named after the Gods: Ra, Amen, Ptah, Sutekh

The Chariotry

  • Charioteers usually came from the Upper Classes of Society
  • They had 25 Chariots per Company; deployed in Troops of 10
  • Squadrons of 50; 250 Chariots formed the Pedjetl who were commanded by ‘Commander of a Chariotry Host’

The Navy                    

  • The Mariners were usually from the Lower Classes of Society whilst the Higher Officers were from the Middle Classes
  • They used 2 types of Boat, which could be sailed and rowed, giving them a massive advantage in manoeuvrability at all times:

            1.) Reed Boat

            2.) Planked Ship

Medjay: The Desert Ranger Police



An elite force who were often used to protect valuable areas; such as the Royal Palaces, the Capital City, the Tombs and the Royal Cemeteries


Thought to originally be from an ethnic group below the 2nd Cataract in Nubia, who seem to have immigrated into Egypt; but later diversified to take other elite Police representatives


Throughout Upper and Lower Egypt


Appeared in written records in the Old Kingdom; though it took until 18th Dynasty for them to reach the elite Paramilitary Police Force that they are best known as today


There is no longer any written records of the Medjay after the 20th Dynasty


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