Egypt is one of the oldest civilizations in the world, with a history spanning thousands of years. During one epoch, known as the New Kingdom (approximately 1570 to 1085 BCE), Egyptian pharaohs actively sought to expand and strengthen their empire with a military that mastered the art of chariot warfare. Egyptians, however, did not invent the chariot and the weapons of the Bronze Age, but were introduced to them by outside invaders at a time when the Egyptian military was centered on the infantry. At the time of the invasion, Egyptian weapons were obsolete compared to the rest of the world. The introduction of the horse and chariot in Egypt was a turning point in its history. With these new weapons Egypt was able to transform its military into one of the largest and most powerful in the world, allowing Egyptian pharaohs to expand their control and influence in the world.
Around 1700 BCE an outside nation, known as the Hyksos, invaded Egypt and slowly took control both militarily and politically. The Hyksos people introduced to Egyptians the horse, chariot and modern Bronze Age weapons. The chariot developed around 2000 BCE, and the Indo-Iranians were the first to use a chariot similar to those of the Hyksos—“light, two wheeled and spoked.” Use of the chariot spread through trade, travel, conquest, and migration. The Hyksos began their invasion of Egypt around 1720 BCE during the Middle Kingdom (2040 to 1645 BCE). The Middle Kingdom was weakening both militarily and politically, and the army was incapable of protecting itself from outside attacks. The Hyksos invasion was not a single military event, for it was some fifty years before the Hyksos established absolute control over Egypt. However, there is no doubt that their military superiority was a major factor in their takeover.
History Matters: An Undergraduate Journal of Historical Research (Spring 2006)