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Weapons, Warriors and Warfare in Early Egypt

Gregory Phillip Gilbert


This research is a study of the development of weapon technologies in Early Egypt (the interval from earliest times until the end of the 2nd Dynasty of the Egyptian state) through the examination and interpretation of material remains. This includes a detailed assessment of the relevant artefacts from prehistoric and Early Dynastic sites. Weapons are evaluated to determine whether they had a military, hunting or ritual function or indeed combinations of these. The earliest depictions of warriors and warfare are then assessed to determine the influence of military aspects upon Early Egyptian society. Cross-cultural research is used to identify possible anthropological parallels that may lead to a better understanding of the Egyptian evidence. The contribution of warfare during the formation of the Egyptian state is discussed and the possibility of a peaceful origin is assessed. For the purposes of this study the territory occupied by the Egyptian Nile valley culture(s) defines Egypt. Throughout the periods examined the Egyptian culture essentially occupied the Nile valley, extending from the First Cataract in the south to the mouth of each branch of the Nile as it disgorged into the Mediterranean Sea in the north. The author develops a model for warfare in Egypt from its earliest times to the end of the 2nd Dynasty, by reviewing current trends in the archaeology, anthropology and history of warfare. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of warfare during the rise of the Egyptian state. Aspects of warfare in Early Egypt are examined through interpretation of pictorial narratives, fortifications and settlement patterns, cultural expansion and predynastic invasions, and wars from Dynasty 0 to Dynasty 2.