Population estimate for the kingdoms at this time is virtually impossible, although the typical estimation for Egypt is around 3.5-5 million. The Shang had around 6 million. But Bei Jing Zhong Guan Cun estimates that by the end of Shang there might have been as much as 10 million. The Chinese lead in population is again, probably because that the main food crop is millet, while for Egypt it was wheat and barley. But Egypt is more centralized in absolute terms. But taking population estimate aside. The size of the Egyptian army and that of Shang is comparable(which probably mean that their population isn’t too much different), both capable of fielding up to several ten thousand strong. Which is far larger than the typical Hittie and Mitanni armies (the two other great power of the period). Weni, a commander in the army of the sixth dynasty recorded his army tens of thousand strong. Pharaoh Thutmosis III was able to move more than 20,000 men 300 miles at Megiddo. In the battle of Kadesh in 1275 b.c., Pharaoh Rameses II fielded between 25,000-30,000 men. But this was not the maximum that Egypt can field. It can probably triple that amount in time of national emergency. The typical Egyptian field army however, composed of five Pedjets of around 6,500 men. Similarily, the oracle bones mention Shang armies of mostly 3,000-5,000, but occasionally up to 40,000. Zhou Xin’s campaign against the Dong Hu around 1077 had at least 10,000 men. Classical account mentions that Wu Wang deployed 300 chariots and 45,000 men against Zhou Xin's 170,000 army!(Shi Ji even bloat the number to 700,000) Of course, that number is probably exaggerated, but nevertheless, in time of national emergency, Shang can probably also field up to 100,000 by the time of emperor Wu Ding.
The organization of the two armies is also comparable in complexity and maneuver. In fact they all seem to be somewhat based off of divisions of five. Egyptian infantry was organized into 50 man platoons commanded by a "leader of fifty". 5 platoons make up a Sa, or company plus a commander, quartermaster, and scribe, and was identified as being comprised of recruits, tarined men, or elite shock. The next unit in the chain of command was the regiment commanded by a "standard bearer" although the size is not known. Above that is the Pedjets of 1,000 men each, commanded by a "captain of the troop". A typical Egyptian field division was organized into 5 Pedjets of 3 heavy infantry brigades, and 2 archer brigades. Each Pedjets is also accompanied by a chariot task force of around 500 chariots, making a total field army about 6,500 in size. The heavy infantry had axemen, archers, clubmen, and spearmen in the army. The latter carried shields and six foot long spears. They are used to protect against and disrupt hostile charges aimed at chariot units. The most disciplined of the infantry were the Nakhtu-aa, armed with bull hide shield and short spears as well as the cast bronze penetration axe as well as dagger. The heavy infantries, like almost anywhere in the world, is the decisive arm and faught in phalanxes of 5 men deep and 10 men front in a 50 men platoon. While the archers are called Megau, carrying 1.3 meter composite bows. Egyptians used the oxcart as a logistical transport.
By the new kingdom, the army got rid of the old kingdom style of local militia, reorganized its structures and became a national force based on conscription. Like the Shang dynasty, Egyptian army had a core of professional military caste. Military families were given grants of land to hold for as long as they provided a son for the officer corps.(although Shang's top military belong to the noble, the rest were peasants.)
The very structure of the Shang society is based on war, with the basic social unit known as the Zu. The clan consisted of about a hundred families that lived in a small walled town and fielded a military unit consisting of 1 man from each family. Shang society was composed primarily of numerous peasant communities, dominated by a strong noble class and headed by a well-organized monarchy. The royal capital was more complex version of the clan town and was protected by rammed earth walls and a standing army supplemented by some of th esoldier citizens of Zu. In time of war, the rest of the clan fighting men of the capital. Shang logistics are unkown but it is probably complex because of its ability to deploy large armies into far away lands. The regular army was the Lu with titles such as “garrison commandant,” “frontier commandant,” “archer commandant” “horse commandant” and “dog attendant”. The basic unit of the Shang, like that of Zhou, is in squads of five called the Wu, they make up a 100 man infantry company called Zu, each Zu is accompanied by a chariot squad(wu) of 5 making up a chariot combat force called chariot Zu, five of that makes up a Lu, and in a typical field army, it was divided into three parts(hence the name San Jun for the entire field army probably dates back to Shang), right, center and left.(known as upper, center and lower.)
In battle, the basic 100-man Zu formed a 10x10 phalanx, The front row probably carries the Ge. The second and third row behind him carries a 4-5 feet spear poking over his shoulder, forming a solid hedge-row of spear-points. The rows behind them carried swords, maces, and axes, ready for close-in fighting once the enemy line has been broken, and also included rows of archers, who laid down showers of arrows overhead on the enemy. These soldiers also carried a bronze dagger. The chariots are deployed in rows behind the phalanx, serving cavalry-like roles, exploiting break-throughs, protecting the flanks of the phalanx, or attacking enemy flanks. Each chariot is drawn by 2 horses and carry three riders, the driver in the middle, the archer to the left, and the spearman or halberdier to the right.
Comparitively, the armament and organization of the two armies are similar, both used spears, daggers, battle axe and composite bows.
However, unlike the Shang, Egyptians usually deployed chariot units to act as screen for infantry and to cover their maneuver during a movement to contact. The chariots with composite bows start firing enemy at a distance by closing in with them and deploying them ahead of the infantry(used much like the light horse skirmishers in the Liao army of later times). Once the enemy was close, the chariots and archer retire into the main infantry ranks or to the flanks and continue to fire into the enemy. If the enemy gave ground, the chariot exploits the vulnerable points of the enemy. The Shang chariot’s role in tactic is very vague. But given its size, it might have performed a tactic similar to the Hitties in Kadesh. The chariot might have been the primary arm. The chariot was to close in rapidly with the infantry, delivering maximum shock to their formation in open terrain using the sheer weight of the vehicle to shatter them. That’s perhaps the reason why Shang chariots are significantly heavier than Egyptian ones. It was capable of carrying a passenger of 3 where the Egyptian can only carry two. Egyptian chariots however, might have been faster due to their lighter design. But Shang chariots is perhaps in general superior in combat(at least compared to the Hitties, whose chariots were more or less the same standard as the Egyptians in different terrain). The excavated Shang chariot in AnYang measured 135 cm by 85 cm, with a wheen exceeding 135 cm the Egyptian chariot found in the tomb of Tutankhamun only carried two passengers and measured 100 cm by 50 cm with a wheel measuring 95 cm. Shang chariots had the most advanced wheels in any army of the day. It had dishing, or a plate shaped wheel with the rim protruding outward rather than a flat cone typical of other civilizations. Such wheels give extra strength against sideway thrusts occasioned by uneven or rutted terrains, as well as a greater flexibility in turning. On occasion, these “cake wheels” were strengthened by a pair of struts running from the rim to rim on each side of the hub, giving even greater strength to the wheels. Furthermore, Shang wheels had 18 spokes while most Middle Eastern and Egyptian chariots had at most 6. Shang chariot also had a different tactic, unlike the Middle Eastern shock chariots; Shang chariots used a seven-foot shaft Ge instead of the spear. The Ge has a better coverage in battle than the spear and could knock out the opposing charioteer in a showdown. The abundance of Ge might have been due to the sophisticated Shang Bronze technology.
In conclusion, Egypt is probably stronger during the early phase of the New Kingdom, especially during the powerful 18th dynasty under the reign of the warrior pharaoh Thutmosis III. He conquered all the way up to Syria. But by the time of Thutmosis IV. Shang entered a new era of power under Tai Jia in the end of the 15th century b.c. The two power are probably comparable. But by the reign of WuDing towards the end of the 13th century b.c., Shang is probably in the lead because Egypt has just suffered invasion from the Sea people, and its internal politics are also instable. It has lost whatever possession it had of Palestine and Syria. Its also at this time, that Shang chariot warfare reached its height, and extended to its maximum territory.
Edited by warhead, 24 February 2006 - 04:13 PM.