The earliest settlers arrived about 5000 B.C. in what is now called Egypt. The sophisticated culture many people think of as "ancient Egypt" first arose around 3000 B.C., according to "Ancient Egypt" by George Hart. However, as sophisticated as they were, the people of this culture built their cities, worked their lands and fought their wars using simple tools and weapons that they made from wood, stone, copper and bronze.
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The Egyptian Military
The military became important to the ancient Egyptians around 3000 B.C., reports an article in Tour Egypt. The Egyptians primarily undertook military campaigns to fight civil wars, secure resources, protect themselves from invaders and create buffer zones between themselves and rival states. At its peak, the military was highly organised with a hierarchy of officers from the pharaoh down to commanders in charge of units of 50 men. Highly trained military scribes kept records of the campaign and wrote dispatches. The army was divided into specialised divisions such as infantry and chariot forces, says Troy Fox in Tour Egypt.
The early Egyptian soldiers were equipped with basic weapons such as clubs, bows, slings, throwing sticks and axes. In many cases, the soldiers used these same weapons when they returned home for hunting or cutting wood. As their primary defence, the soldiers used a rectangular shield covered in cow hide, as it was too hot in Egypt to wear the metal or leather armour found in other cultures. As technology improved, weapons became more sophisticated, including swords, spears, daggers and copper arrowheads. A precursor to the scimitar called the "khopesh" was one of the more prominent styles of sword, according to Tour Egypt. The khopesh's axelike curved blade was used for slashing rather than stabbing.
Between 1720 and 1710 B.C., a Semitic tribe called the Hyksos conquered Egypt, reports "A Dictionary of World History" in 2000. During their rule, they introduced the chariot to the Egyptian military. The chariot developed from the four-wheeled battle wagon pulled by wild donkeys used by the Assyrians. The Egyptian two-wheeled chariot was pulled by two horses and carried two soldiers. One soldier held the reins while the other attacked enemy troops with a bow or javelin.
Tools and Simple Machines
Egyptian workers were equipped with only the most basic tools. Woodworking tools included saws, adzes, hand drills and awls, while construction tools consisted of only chisels, pick-hammers and mallets. Architects had access to measuring tools such as levels, gauges for measuring plumb lines, ropes, rulers and squares. The massive stone blocks used in pyramids, temples and other monuments were moved into place with a variety of simple machines; for example, the blocks were transported from the quarry by boat. After they reached their destination they were pushed or dragged from the river bank along a special lubricated path. At the construction site, the blocks were pushed into place along ramps that could be raised as the building grew taller, according to "Egyptian Construction Methods Evident Today" by Tim Gregorski.
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- "Ancient Egypt"; George Hart; 1990
- Tour Egypt; "Equipment of Pharaoh's Army"; Troy Fox
- "The Columbia Encyclopedia"; Hyksos; 2008
- Encyclopedia.com: "A Dictionary of World History"; Chariot; 2000
- Concrete Construction; "Egyptian Construction Methods Evident Today"; Tim Gregorski; July 2010
- Science Daily; "How Were the Egyptian Pyramids Built?"; adapted from Penn State University; March 29, 2008