Ancient Egyptian Close Combat Weapons

Axes were probably used very early in Egyptian warfare, though at first they were perhaps no different than the tool used for peaceful purposes, such as cutting would.

 As a practical weapon, it was the battle axe that eventually replaced the mace as one of the Egyptian military's primary close combat weapons.


Infantry armed with battle axes were typically deployed after the enemy had been weakened by archers. The axe was more effective in cutting wounded or fleeing enemies to pieces than it was in breaching an intact battle line.  The Hyksos, Asiatics themselves, are credited with having introduced scale body armorinto Egypt and brought about changes in the form of the battle axe there by the middle of the 2nd millennium.

Hence, one distinguishes between two kinds of battle axe: the cutting and the piercing axe. Both were used by Egyptiansoldiers, but under different circumstances. 

The cutting axe is a blade fastened to a sizable handle, the idea being to keep as far as possible from harm's way. As relatively little power was exerted the affixing of the blade to the handle was not very critical. The head was generally inserted into a hole or groove in the wooden handle and tied fast.  The cutting axe is effective against enemies who do not wear body armor andhelmets, as was the custom in Africa, Egypt included. It disappeared as armor became more prevalent, which happened later in Egypt than in Asia, where as early as the 3rd millennium BC Sumerians are depicted wearing helmets.

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Author: Troy Fox

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