Egypt was surrounded by harsh desert on three sides. In the north were the marshes of the delta and to the south the Nile ran over a series of rapids and waterfalls, the cataracts. All these formed barriers to invading armies. Even so, Egyptian towns were defended with forts and walls, and many pharaohs went to battle against their neighbors.
Wars were fought against Libyans, the Nubians, the Hittites and the Syrians.

There were proffessional soldiers in Egypt, but most were conscripted against their will. For slaves, fighting in the army was a chance to gain their freedom. At times, foreign troops were also hired to fight. Young men in the villages learned to drill in preparation for war. Soldiers carried shields of leather and wood. They were armed with spears, axes, bows and arrows, daggers and swords. Later, with war chariots drawn by horses were used. Special awards, such as the golden fly, were handed out of bravery in battle.