Anyone interested in the history of warfare or weaponry should make sure to look at ancient Egyptian weapons and how the Egyptian armies utilized their technological superiority. Whilst most famous for its architectural wonders, ancient Egypt once wielded the most terrifying fighting force the world had ever seen. The history of the rise and eventual fall of Egypt’s military is ultimately all about ancient Egyptian weapons!
Humble Beginnings: Early Ancient Egyptian Weapons
The Egyptian weapons of the Early Dynastic Period (3150 BC-2613 BC) were as simple as one might expect. Military weapons consisted of basic daggers, spears, and maces for melee combat along with primitive bows for long-range combat.
The spears were rudimentary and very similar to those used by predynastic Egyptian hunters . The only real advancement was the introduction of copper spearheads, which offered better penetration than the traditional flint tip. However, metallurgy in this early period was expensive and it is unclear how widespread the use of copper spear tips was among the average foot soldiers.
Troops carried a dagger as a secondary weapon. The dagger normally had a copper blade and was used at either very close range or to finish off wounded enemies. The blades were too brittle to be reliable in one-to-one combat. The second they hit bone or another blade they were likely to chip or even snap, which was less than ideal.
The mace was another secondary weapon issued to some foot soldiers. The heads were either made of hardwood or pear-shaped stone. The mace could be used to smash through enemy shields or dispatch wounded enemies with one quick blow to the skull.
For longer ranges, the Egyptians began to use archers during this period. However, these rudimentary single-arched bows weren’t much use. They were difficult to draw, had an embarrassingly short range, and were inaccurate to boot. These problems were compounded by the fact that archers were drawn from low-class peasantry who mostly had no experience in bow hunting.