Egypt's Golden Empire
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Standing very still, Mdjai watches the sun rise, but the only thing on his mind is how his new sandals make his feet hurt and how much longer he can hold his spear steady. As a soldier and one of the pharaoh's elite bodyguards, he has already been up for hours.

In another hour, he's relieved for breakfast. It's the same every day - a piece of bread. No peanut butter or jelly for Mdjai, just bread. If he's lucky it won't be too stale. The officers always get the best rations.

After breakfast, Mdjai does drill practice on a plain outside Thebes. After his unit has been yelled at by their superiors, they go on maneuvers, practicing charges and battle formations with the rest of his division - a total of 5,000 men.

The entire division is on the plain in battle formation of centers and wings. Everyone is involved - Mdjai and the other elite archers, the spearmen (always the first to die in battle) and the chariots. It's tiring but fun: the excitement of battle, but none of the danger. After a bad start to the day, finally Mdjai feels like a soldier again.


After the maneuvers, the soldiers stop for lunch. Today, the rations are lentils and garlic, with some Syrian bread - popular in the army since they discovered it while on service there years ago.

As Egypt is currently at peace, there is little fighting to do. So after lunch, his company of 200 men is deployed to work on a government project.

Today, they are digging an irrigation canal on farmland belonging to one of the big temples. It's hot work and Mdjai can feel the sweat trickling down his back. Still, it could be worse - his friends in another company have been told to carry stones up a mountain for the pharaoh's tomb.


After a short break in the late afternoon, the company marches back to its barracks to clean their kit and get some supper. The sun is now beginning to go down but the day is far from over for Mdjai. Instead, it's ending as it begun: on sentry duty at the palace, guarding the pharaoh.

Where to Next:
A Day in the Life of a Pharaoh, Nobleman, Craftsman, Priest, Farmer or Woman

A Day in the Life - Introduction
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Egypt's Golden Empire A Day in the Life