Ancient Mesopotamia Military/Army

Mesopotamians used full armour. Soldiers were also trained to swim, horseback ride and be able to farm in case of emergencies. The Mesopotamians used swords of metal and javelins and the head and the butt were also made of metal. The soldiers’ helmets were made of bronze. The ancient soldiers used shields that were not made of metal but a strong type of woven material, and this kind of material was even stronger than the normal metal.

In the earliest wars, the weapons and tactics remained fairly primitive, with the use of Stone Age weapons such as clubs, or simple missile weapons like slings. The “armies” of the Sumerian cities actually were local militia, with little organization.

As war grew in importance, the military leader increasingly came to take pride of place and the office was made permanent. Disposing of a considerable share of the spoils of war and commanding both the temple guard and the levy of citizens, the lugal[military leader] concentrated ever greater power in his hands and increasingly pushed such traditional institutions as the council of elders and other offices to second rank.

In 16th century, Ottoman Turks and Safavid Persians started battling over Mesopotamia. The Ottomans got control over Mesopotamia. Then the first archaeological excavations started. The eastern and largest parts of Mesopotamia became part of Iraq with its independence. Syria becomes independent, with a territory that covers the western parts of Mesopotamia.

After having solidified his rule in Macedonia and Greece, in the early spring of 334 BC Alexander at last set out from Pella at the head of his expeditionary force and marched for the Dardanelles. Alexander had achieved an overwhelming victory at the Battle of Granicus and thereupon, the whole of Western Asia Minor lay open before him. The evolution of armies shows that the later Sumerians and the later Mesopotamians, technology became increasing complex and heavy resources were devoted to warfare and defense.

The period of interest for the student of military history is that from 3000 to 2316 B.C., the date that Sargon the Great united all of Sumer into a single state. This period was marked by almost constant wars among the major city-states and against foreign enemies. Among the more common foreign enemies of the southern city-states were the Elamites, the peoples of northern Iran.

The conflict between Sumerians and Elamites probably extended back to Neolithic times, but the first recorded instance of war between them appeared in 2700 B.C., when Mebaragesi, the first king on the Sumerian King List, undertook a war against the Elamites, and “carried away as spoil the weapons of Elam.” This first “Iran-Iraq war” was fought in the same area around Basra and the salt marshes that have witnessed the modern conflict of the last decade between the same two states.

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Ancient Mesopotamian Military and Soldiers