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A Brutal Hunger

By Peter Heather. Add to Cart Add to Wish List. There were three early iron sword types being the leaf shaped, spoon shaped and the parallel sword each ideal for thrusting and jabbing as opposed to a striking or cutting motion. The Rajputs wielded the khanda which is a broad and straight sword with a wider point. The Gurkhas had two swords that they preferred to use the kukri, a short sword that angled towards wide tip, and the kora, their historical war sword which was around 60 centimeters with a single edge that was rather narrow near the handler and curving towards the front.

The adya katti was a single edged blade also near two feet long but with no handle and wield by the Coorg and Malabar. In Southern India, the Borobudur and the Veragal, either shaped like a hook or a wavy design, were the swords in use. A rather unique weapon used in India is the Baghnakh which are similar to a knuckle duster and were used to slit the opponent's throat or belly.

Armor in India can be found dating back to BC and Vedic literature; there are several different types: leather and fabric, scale, brigandine, lamellar, mail, plate, and a combination of mail and plate.

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The helmets consisted of a sliding nose guard with a piece of chainmail hanging from it designed to protect the neck and shoulders. Armor was not just limited to human soldiers but extended to their horses and elephants as well. The horse armor was made up of mail and plates or lamellae which covered the neck, chest, and hindquarters underneath which was some form of padding to keep it in place while a face plate protected the animal's face.

The elephants, used as a battering ram or to break and trample enemy lines, were also donned in armor for battle. The elephant's head was covered by a steel mask and covered half of the trunk while the throat and sides were protected by lamellae armor while the tusks were tipped with sharp metal. Siege warfare of the ancient Near East took place behind walls built of mud bricks, stone, wood or a combination of these materials depending on local availability.

The earliest representations of siege warfare date to the Protodynastic Period of Egypt , c. Assyrian palace reliefs of the 9th to 7th centuries BC display sieges of several Near Eastern cities. Though a simple battering ram had come into use in the previous millennium, the Assyrians improved siege warfare. The most common practise of siege warfare was, however, to lay siege and wait for the surrender of the enemies inside. Due to the problem of logistics, long lasting sieges involving anything but a minor force could seldom be maintained.

Ancient siege warfare varied from each civilization and how each city was defended differently and had to approached with different tactics. This strategy ensures that all forces are used and contributing to the battle effort and helping gain victory for them and all pulling their weight as well.

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Throughout most of its history, ancient Egypt was unified under one government. The main military concern for the nation was to keep enemies out. The arid plains and deserts surrounding Egypt were inhabited by nomadic tribes who occasionally tried to raid or settle in the fertile Nile river valley. The Egyptians built fortresses and outposts along the borders east and west of the Nile Delta, in the Eastern Desert, and in Nubia to the south.

Small garrisons could prevent minor incursions, but if a large force was detected a message was sent for the main army corps. Most Egyptian cities lacked city walls and other defenses. The first Egyptian soldiers carried a simple armament consisting of a spear with a copper spearhead and a large wooden shield covered by leather hides. A stone mace was also carried in the Archaic period, though later this weapon was probably only in ceremonial use, and was replaced with the bronze battle axe. The spearmen were supported by archers carrying a composite bow and arrows with arrowheads made of flint or copper.

No armour was used during the 3rd and early 2nd Millennium BC. As the dynasties expanded and grew upon the last that fell to gain new territory and control new people for the empire of Egypt. One of the ways the dynasties were different were the new technologies used in the later dynasties against the enemy. Both armies have cavalry units supporting their infantry and scouts to get updates on the movements. These advances differ from two groups attacking head on for control of an area and facing losses on both sides.

The major advance in weapons technology and warfare began around BC when the Egyptians fought and defeated the Hyksos people, who ruled Lower Egypt at the time. It was during this period the horse and chariot were introduced into Egypt. Other new technologies included the sickle sword , body armour and improved bronze casting. In the New Kingdom , the Egyptian military changed from levy troops into a firm organization of professional soldiers.

Conquests of foreign territories, like Nubia, required a permanent force to be garrisoned abroad. The Egyptians were mostly used to slowly defeating a much weaker enemy, town by town, until beaten into submission. The preferred tactic was to subdue a weaker city or kingdom one at a time resulting in surrender of each fraction until complete domination was achieved. The encounter with other powerful Near Eastern kingdoms like Mitanni , the Hittites , and later the Assyrians and Babylonians , made it necessary for the Egyptians to conduct campaigns far from home.


The next leap forwards came in the Late Period — BC , when mounted troops and weapons made of iron came into use. After the conquest by Alexander the Great , Egypt was heavily Hellenized and the main military force became the infantry phalanx. The ancient Egyptians were not great innovators in weapons technology, and most weapons technology innovation came from Western Asia and the Greek world. These soldiers were paid with a plot of land for the provision of their families. After fulfilment of their service, the veterans were allowed retirement to these estates. Generals could become quite influential at the court, but unlike other feudal states, the Egyptian military was completely controlled by the king.

Foreign mercenaries were also recruited; first Nubians Medjay , and later also Libyans and Sherdens in the New Kingdom. By the Persian period Greek mercenaries entered service into the armies of the rebellious pharaohs. Although, they might also have served the Egyptian Pharaohs of the 6th century BC.

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As far as had been seen from the royal propaganda of the time, the king or the crown prince personally headed the Egyptian troops into battle. The army could number tens of thousands of soldiers, so the smaller battalions consisting of men, led by an officer, may have been the key of command. The enemies could, however, try to surprise the large Egyptian force with ambushes and by blocking the road as the Egyptian campaign records informs us. Within the Nile valley itself, ships and barges were important military elements. Ships were vital for providing supplies for the troops. The Nile river had no fords so barges had to be used for river crossings.

Dominating the river often proved necessary for prosecuting sieges, like the Egyptian conquest of the Hyksos capital Avaris. Egypt had no navy to fight naval battles at sea before the Late Period. Ancient Persia first emerged as a major military power under Cyrus the Great. Its form of warfare was based on massed infantry in light armor to pin the enemy force whilst cavalry dealt the killing blow. Cavalry was used in huge numbers but it is not known whether they were heavily armored or not.

Most Greek sources claim the Persians wore no armor, but we do have an example from Herodotus which claims that an unhorsed cavalry Officer wore a gold cuirass under his red robes. Chariots were used in the early days but during the later days of the Persian Empire they were surpassed by horsemen. During the Persian Empire's height, they even possessed war elephants from North Africa and distant India. The elite of the Persian Army were the famous Persian Immortals , a 10, strong unit of professional soldiers armed with a spear, a sword and a bow.

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  6. Archers also formed a major component of the Persian Army. Persian tactics primarily had four stages involving archers, infantry and cavalry. The archers, which wielded longbows, would fire waves of arrows before the battle, attempting to cut the enemy numbers down prior battle. The cavalry would then attempt to run into the enemy and sever communications between generals and soldiers. Infantry would then proceed to attack the disoriented soldiers, subsequently weakened from the previous attacks.

    During the Vedic period fl. The earliest allusions to a specific battle are those to the Battle of the Ten Kings in Mandala 7 of the Rigveda. The two great ancient epics of India , Ramayana and Mahabharata c. Valmiki 's Ramayana describes Ayodhya 's military as defensive rather than aggressive. The city, it says, was strongly fortified and was surrounded by a deep moat. Ramayana describes Ayodhya in the following words: "The city abounded in warriors undefeated in battle, fearless and chinskilled in the use of arms, resembling lions guarding their mountain caves".

    Mahabharata describes various military techniques, including the Chakravyuha. The world's first recorded military application of war elephants is in the Mahabharatha. In the Battle of the Hydaspes River , the Indian king Porus , who ruled in Punjab , with his smaller army of war elephants, cavalry and 20, infantry, presented great difficulty for Alexander the Great's larger army of cavalry and 50, infantry, though Porus was eventually defeated.

    At this time, the Nanda Empire further east in northern and eastern India had an army of war elephants, 80, cavalry, , infantry and armed chariots. Chanakya c. Chanakya wrote the Arthashastra , which covered various topics on ancient Indian warfare in great detail, including various techniques and strategies relating to war. These included the earliest uses of espionage and assassinations.

    These techniques and strategies were employed by Chandragupta Maurya, who was a student of Chanakya, and later by Ashoka — BC. Seleucus eventually lost his territories in Southern Asia, including southern Afghanistan , to Chandragupta.

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    Seleucus exchanged territory west of the Indus for war elephants and offered his daughter to Chandragupta. In this matrimonial alliance the enmity turned into friendship, and Seleucus' dispatched an ambassador, Megasthenes , to the Mauryan court at Pataliputra. As a result of this treaty, the Maurya Empire was recognized as a great power by the Hellenistic World , and the kings of Egypt and Syria sent their own ambassadors to his court. According to Megasthenes, Chandragupta Maurya built an army consisting of 30, cavalry, war elephants, and , infantry, which was the largest army known in the ancient world.

    Ashoka went on to expand the Maurya Empire to almost all of South Asia , along with much of Afghanistan and parts of Persia. Ashoka eventually gave up on warfare after converting to Buddhism. Archaeological study of Shang sites at Anyang have revealed extensive examples of chariots and bronze weapons. In the Spring and Autumn period , warfare increased exponentially. Zuo zhuan describes the wars and battles among the feudal lords during the period.

    Warfare continued to be stylised and ceremonial even as it grew more violent and decisive. Sun Tzu created a book that still applies to today's modern armies, The Art of War. Formations of the army can be clearly seen from the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang , the first Emperor in the history of China to be successful in unification of different warring states. Light infantry acting as shock troops lead the army, followed by heavy infantry as the main body of the army. Wide usage of cavalry and chariots behind the heavy infantry also gave the Qin army an edge in battles against the other warring states.

    Warfare became more intense, ruthless and much more decisive during the Warring States period , in which great social and political change was accompanied by the end of the system of chariot warfare and the adoption of mass infantry armies. Cavalry was also introduced from the northern frontier, despite the cultural challenge it posed for robe-wearing Chinese men.

    Chinese river valley civilizations would adopt nomadic " pants " for their cavalry units and soldiers. In general, most features of the hoplite panoply of classical Greek antiquity, were already known during the Late Bronze Age by Mycenaean Greeks c. Infantry did almost all of the fighting in Greek battles. The Greeks did not have any notable cavalry tradition except the Thessalians. Light infantry psiloi peltasts , served as skirmishers.

    Despite the fact that most Greek cities were well fortified with the notable exception of Sparta and Greek siege technology was not up to the task of breaching these fortifications by force, most land battles were pitched ones fought on flat-open ground. This was because of the limited period of service Greek soldiers could offer before they needed to return to their farms; hence, a decisive battle was needed to settle matters at hand.

    To draw out a city's defenders, its fields would be threatened with destruction, threatening the defenders with starvation in the winter if they did not surrender or accept battle. This pattern of warfare was broken during the Peloponnesian War , when Athens ' command of the sea allowed the city to ignore the destruction of the Athenian crops by Sparta and her allies by shipping grain into the city from the Crimea. This led to a warfare style in which both sides were forced to engage in repeated raids over several years without reaching a settlement. It also made sea battle a vital part of warfare.

    Greek naval battles were fought between triremes — long and speedy rowing ships which engaged the enemy by ramming and boarding actions. During the time of Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great , the Macedonians were regarded as the most complete well co-ordinated military force in the known world. Although they are best known for the achievements of Alexander the Great , his father Philip II of Macedon created and designed the fighting force Alexander used in his conquests.

    Before this time and for centuries their military prowess was nowhere near that the sarissa phalanx offered. However prior to the improvements made by Philip II of Macedon armies fought in the traditional manner of the Greeks; that of the hoplite phalanx. Philip provided his Macedonian soldiers in the phalanx with sarissa , a spear which was 4—6 meters in length.

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    The sarissa, when held upright by the rear ranks of the phalanx there were usually eight ranks , helped hide maneuvers behind the phalanx from the view of the enemy. When held horizontal by the front ranks of the phalanx, enemies could be run through from far away. The hoplite type troops were not abandoned, [24] but were no longer the core of the army.


    In BC he met the Illyrians in battle with his reorganized Macedonian phalanx, and utterly defeated them. The Illyrians fled in panic, leaving the majority of their 9,strong army dead. The Macedonian army invaded Illyria and conquered the southern Illyrian tribes.