In ancient times land was divided into many different areas, each area led by its own leader and inhabited by its own people. All of these people had different cultures, structure of government, trading system, art, religion and military system. Even though some countries are located near each other, their culture, beliefs and ways of doing certain things varied. In this essay, I am going to focus on the differences between military systems between the Hittites, Phoenicians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Persians.
Countries were at constant war. It was the time when nations were forced to develop their own military systems in order to keep peace in their own land or invade new land if necessary. They had to improve their warfare tactics and establish a well-organized and structured army. This gave rise to new advanced weaponry and cunning warfare tactics. Different nations and people came up with new inventions and ideas, which gave them a head start when going to battle with their enemies.
The Hittites are well known for their strategic thinking and using situations for their own benefit. They were people who once lived in what is now modern Turkey and the northern part of Syria. Due to their inconvenient location they were at constant war with their neighbouring countries, which required them to have a strong and well-built army. According to many sources, the Hittites were the first to use iron in spears, swords, shields and armour. This gave them a good position in battles, since they had the advantage of state-of-the-art weaponry.
Much can be said about the Hittites’ army through the artworks and scrolls that are remained. Through the survived pieces of art we can somehow imagine what the soldiers of that time looked like. The same applies also for the other people; armies and the uniforms they wore during those times can be seen through different scrolls or paintings that can still be found from various museums etc.
Unlike the Hittites, Phoenicians, however, fought their battles in water instead of land. Their competition with the Greeks about their trade and colonies led to the construction of many ships made for war. This was a significant development in sea warfare, since it was becoming a great importance during the fifth century. Their advancement put themselves into a strong position compared to the others and therefore they were known as the most skilful shipbuilders and navigators of their time.
One of the most feared army of all time was the Assyrian army. They were known as the most barbaric, brutal and remorseless people of that time. Not only were they successful in the area of weaponry, but they were also known to have special technical units. Unlike the Hittites, Assyrians used cavalry instead of chariots, which gave them a stronger position in battle. Also their usage of iron in weaponry and ability to break through brick walls made them hard to beat.
Having said, even though the Assyrians had a powerful army, the Chaldeans did manage to take control of much of the territory that the Assyrians had ruled. However, when the other people went on conquering lands and contributing new ideas to the civilization, the Chaldeans did not provide any new thoughts. Their secret in taking over part of Assyria lay in their wise ruler, Nebuchadnezzar, who had a great influence over his people, and therefore had a strong control over their motivation during wars.
The Persian army was precise and careful. It was obligatory for young men to serve as a soldier from 20 years onwards, up until they turned 50 years, when he was released from service. All enemies of Persia thought of its military as threatening, since the Persian army was largely numbered and highly motivated. They also had a clear division in troops; there was riding, archery, hand-to-hand combat and mounted combat. Their preparedness was intimidating, and since they were also highly numbered, many countries didn’t want to threaten Persia.
The Persian army was drawn from the tribes of the Persians. The army had a well-composed ranking system; it was the Persian nobility and aristocracy that commanded the army, and the poor and weak that served as soldiers. The poor, weak or non-Persians didn’t have any chances of rising to higher ranks, since they were strictly reserved for the nobles and aristocrats.
The armament that the Persians used was advanced. The weapons they used were the bow and the short sword, but sometimes they also used the spear. During battles they used elephants and scythed chariots. They had also mail armour, which was used to protect both their horses and men themselves. The cavalry wore Median dress, bronze helmets and horsehair crest. The Persian army had also an elite force, which we know as ‘the immortals’. Their armament was different compared to the normal Persian soldiers’, since they were armed heavily with bows and quivers.
Most of these armies achieved a lot during their times, conquered lands and made technical advancements in weaponry. Nevertheless, they were all different in areas such as weaponry, structure and tactics. To sum it all up, Hittites, Hebrews, Phoenicians, Assyrians, Lydians, Chaldeans and Persians all had a different military structure, and therefore contributed different things to our civilization. They all had their strongest areas, which worked for their own benefits during war and battle.