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Old February 21st, 2012, 04:52 AM   #1

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Mesopotamian Military Timeline


MESOPOTAMIA

The importance of the Mesopotamian valley as a prize for military activity lay not only in the relatively rich local agriculture and craft production, but also in its pre-eminence as the centre of the most significant trade routes in the ancient world between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. The early military history of the region is composed of two interrelated processes. The first is the internal cycle created by the efforts of cities in the valley to gain supremacy over the entire region and its trade routes, versus the counteracting efforts of the other cities to retain their independence. The other process was the continual external pressure exerted by “barbarian” tribes from the south-eastern deserts and the eastern and northern mountains to seize part or all of the fertile valley or occupy strategic points on the trade routes. In fact, most of the military activity was the result of efforts by the inhabitants to keep strategic trade centres out of the hands of interlopers. Strategic success by one state frequently was the result of seizing one end of a trade route rather than direct attack on the enemy. Military power gave a state the capability to control the commerce in critical strategic minerals and other resource, while control of this commerce contributed to military superiority. Gradually the process expanded in scope as the contending parties became larger political entities with greater available military resources. The constant ebb and flow gave the region a much more dynamic and changing character than that of Egypt, which lay virtually unchanged for centuries behind its natural barriers. Finally, these processes culminated in the conquest of the entire region and its immediate environs by one superpower: Persia.
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Old February 21st, 2012, 04:52 AM   #2

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SUMER, AKKAD AND BABYLONIA, 3500 BC – 1200 BC

c. 3500 BC Emergence of Sumer – A people of undetermined racial origin migrated southward through Asia Minor, or through the Caucasus Mountains, and settled in southern Mesopotamia. Although these Sumerians developed a civilization contemporaneously with the Egyptians, they never created a stable, unified kingdom. Sumer was divided among a number of independent, constantly warring city-states.

c. 2400 BC Reign of Lugalzaggisi of Erech – He created a temporary Sumerian Empire, and may have controlled all of Mesopotamia and part of Syria and Asia Minor, his realm reaching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, though there is some doubt that his armies ever reached the Mediterranean.

2371 BC – 2316 BC – Reign of Sargon of Akkad – He led a Semitic people to conquer Sumer. Sargon extended his empire north-westward into Asia Minor and the Mediterranean coast. This empire lasted nearly 200 years.

c. 2200 BC – Turmoil in Mesopotamia – Akkad collapsed under pressure from a new wave of migrations. During the confusion, the Sumerians reasserted their supremacy in southern Mesopotamia for approximately two centuries.

2006 BC – Fall of Sumer – Elamites, invading from the eastern mountains, destroyed the Sumerian Empire.

c. 2000 BC – Establishment of the First (Old) Babylonian Empire – A new Semetic people, the Amorites, probably from Syria, became dominant in Mesopotamia, with Babylon their capital.

1792 BC – 1750 BC – Reign of Hammurabi – This able warrior and enlightened king of Babylonia, ancient history's first famous law-giver, extended his rule over all Mesopotamia.

c. 1700 BC – 1300 BC – Decline of the Old Babylonian Empire – In the confusion of the destructive Hittite raids, the Kassites, an obscure barbarian mountain people from east of Babylonia, overran southern Mesopotamia, adopted the civil justice of the conquered area, and established a kingdom that lasted over 4 centuries.
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Old February 21st, 2012, 05:02 AM   #3

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HITTITE KINGDOM, 2000 BC – 1200 BC

c. 2000 BC – Rise of the Hittites – An Indo-European people who apparently originated north-east of the Caucasus, the Hittites became dominant in northern and central Asia Minor. They maintained steady pressure against neighbours to the east and south. Hittite pressure probably pushed the Hyksos into Egypt.

c. 1590 BC – Reign of Murshilish I – He raided extensively in Mesopotamia, overrunning the Old Babylonian Empire, bringing it to the verge of collapse. He also captured Aleppo, expanding his kingdom's southern boundaries deep into Syria. For the next two centuries the Hittites were occupied with internal disorders, as well as almost constant warfare with the Mitanni of north-western Mesopotamia.

c. 1460 BC - Defeat by Thutmosis II of Egypt - The Egyptian conqueror drove the Hittites out of most of Syria, and the weakened Hittite kingdom paid tribute to Egypt.

1375 BC -1335 BC – Reign of Shubbiluliu – The Hittites revived to re-establish control over most of Anatolia and to conquer the Mitani. For the next century the Hittites and Egyptians struggled for control of Syria and Palestine.

1281 BC – 1260 BC – Reign of Hattushilish III – He made a treaty of peace and alliance with Ramses II, accepting Egyptian sovereignty over Palestine in return for recognition of Hittite control of Syria. In his era the Hittites introduced weapons made of iron. In subsequent years the Hittite kingdom, shaken by internal disorders, declined rapidly. The great Aegean migrations of the “People of the Sea” also began to threaten Hittite control of western Anatolia, while a powerful new Mesopotamian kingdom was pushing from the east.

c. 1200 BC – Disintegration of the Hittite Kingdom
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Old February 21st, 2012, 06:42 AM   #4

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Who was the dominant power in Mesopotamia from 1200-850 BCE, until the rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire?
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Old March 1st, 2012, 02:00 AM   #5

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ASSYRIA, 3000 BC – 612 BC

c. 3000 BC – Emergence of Assyria – The Assyrian people appeared in the upland plains of north-eastern Mesopotamia, along the upper reaches of the Tigris River. Flat Assyria, with no natural frontiers, was constantly threatened by neighbours on all sides, particularly the Hittites to the north-west and the Sumerian-Babylonians to the south-east.

c. 2000 BC – 1200 BC – Military Development – The Assyrians, engaged in a never-ending struggle to maintain freedom, became the most warlike people of the Middle East (c.1400 BC). Initially they relied upon an informal militia system, though constant campaigning gave exceptional military proficiency to those part-time soldiers. But the Assyrian economy was severely strained by the long absence of militiamen from fields and workshops. After growing in size, wealth, and power, Assyria temporarily declined (1230 BC – 1116 BC).

1116 BC – 1093 BC – Reign of Tiglath-Pileser I – Assyria became the leading power of the Middle East, a position she was to maintain almost continuously for five centuries. He expanded Assyrian power into the heart of Anatolia and across northern Syria to the Mediterranean.

c. 1050 BC – Period of Retrenchment – Another wave of migrations – this time Aramean nomads – swept across Mesopotamia. The hard-pressed Assyrians finally repelled, or absorbed, the migrating tribes, and re-established control over all the main routes of the Middle East.

883 BC – 824 BC – Reigns of Ashunasipal II and Shalmaneser III – They carried fire and sword across Mesopotamia, into the Kurdish mountains, and deep into Syria. Then came a brief lull in Assyrian expansion, as weak successors were unable to retain the northern conquests against vengeful foes. The Aramean tribes in Mesopotamia also became restive and unruly.

747 BC – 727 BC – Reign of Tiglath-Pileser III – He firmly re-established internal order throughout Mesopotamia, then undertook a systematic series of military expeditions around the periphery of Assyria's borders, re-establishing Assyria's frontiers on the Armenian highlands north of Lake Van and Mount Ararat, then conquering Syria, Palestine, and the lands east of the Jordan. In later years he campaigned repeatedly along the new borders he had established, maintaining order by inspiring fear. His last important operation was to invade Babylonia, reasserting vigorously the hitherto nominal Assyrian sovereignty.
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Old March 1st, 2012, 04:57 AM   #6

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More great work from you Cara - love all these military timelines - they should all be stickied!
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Old March 1st, 2012, 05:17 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by markdienekes View Post
More great work from you Cara - love all these military timelines - they should all be stickied!
Seconded. Any timeline that features Assyrians gets me unreasonably excited.
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Old March 11th, 2012, 05:50 AM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caracalla View Post
SUMER, AKKAD AND BABYLONIA, 3500 BC – 1200 BC

c. 3500 BC Emergence of Sumer – A people of undetermined racial origin migrated southward through Asia Minor, or through the Caucasus Mountains, and settled in southern Mesopotamia. Although these Sumerians developed a civilization contemporaneously with the Egyptians, they never created a stable, unified kingdom. Sumer was divided among a number of independent, constantly warring city-states.
I've read that the Sumerians possibly came from Bahrain or Arabia (along the Persian Gulf coast), or, if a connection with the Indus Valley Civilization is considered plausible, then along the coast of the Iranian side of the Persian Gulf. Other speculations are that the Sumerians were in fact native to Southern Mesopotamia from Paleolithic times, and the Semites were those who immigrated to Mesopotamia from Asia Minor or possibly Zagros Mountains, or perhaps North Africa.
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Old March 16th, 2012, 03:44 AM   #9

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ASSYRIAN MILITARY ORGANISATION C. 700 BC

Tiglath-Pileser III established the most efficient military, financial, and administrative system the world had yet seen. The army was its heart. He abolished the militia organisation and built the state around a standing regular army. The principal business of the nation became war; its wealth and prosperity were sustained by booty and by supervision of trade and finance. A semi-military bureaucracy carried out the functions of government at home and in the conquered regions, setting the first pattern of centralised imperial control over far-flung provincial territories.

This was the first truly military society of history. No effort was spared that would contribute to the efficiency of the army or assure continued Assyrian supremacy over all possible foes. The Assyrians were the first to recognise fully the advantage of iron over bronze. As early as 1100 BC their militia armies had been completely equipped with weapons, chariots, and armour made of iron. Tiglath-Pileser I saw to it that this technical superiority was maintained by constant and systematic improvement of weapons, and by the careful training of the soldiers in the use if their arms.

The bulk of the army was comprised of large masses of spearmen, slow-moving and cumbersome, but relatively more manoeuvrable than similar infantry formations of other peoples of the time. Their irresistible advance was the culminating phase of a typical Assyrian battle plan.

In the Assyrian Army the archers were more highly organised than their counterparts elsewhere and evidently had stronger bows, from which they fired iron-tipped arrows with deadly accuracy. They created confusion in the enemy ranks in preparation for a closely coordinated chariot and cavalry charge.

The main striking force of the Assyrian Army was the corps of horse-drawn, two-wheeled chariots. Their mission, after a preliminary attack by Assyrian infantry, was to smash their way through the ranks of the shaken enemy infantry. Like contemporaries, the Assyrians used chariots in simple, brute force, but employed them in larger numbers, with more determination, and in closer coordination with archers, spearmen, and cavalry.

The cavalry was the smallest element of the army, but probably the best trained and equipped. The horsemen – some noblemen, but most Scythian mercenaries – fought with a combination of discipline, skill, and ingenuity not possible in the other elements of the army. Only the cavalry could be employed in the occasional manoeuvres attempted in battle. By the time of the Assyrian revival under Sargon II, the cavalry had increased in proportional strength and had largely replaced the chariots.

The art of fortification had been well developed in the Middle East before 1000 BC. The great walls of the large cities were almost invulnerable to the means of attack available within the limited technology of the times. The Assyrians greatly improved the techniques of siege-craft and attack of fortifications. Accompanying their armies were siege trains and various forms of specialised equipment, including materials for building large moveable wooden towers (protected from the flaming arrows of defenders by dampened leather hides) and heavy battering rams. From the tops of the wooden towers, skilled archers would sweep the walls of the defenders, to prevent interference with the work of demolition, while nearby other archers, sheltered by the shield of spearmen, would fire arrows – some of them flaming – in a high trajectory over the walls, to harass the defenders and to terrify the population. The methods used by the Assyrians did not originate with them but were apparently borrowed from the Sumerians. Yet it was the skill and organisation of employment which brought success to Assyrian siege-craft.

The high degree of organisation of the Assyrian army is clearly evidenced by its ability to fight successfully over all kinds of terrain. The organisation details have not been preserved in the fragmentary records available to us, but their field armies may occasionally have approached a strength of 100,000 men. Forces of such size would have required large supply trains for desert or mountain operations, and could have functioned only with smoothly operating staff and logistical systems.

Terror was another factor contributing greatly to Assyrian success. Their exceptional cruelty and ferocity were possibly reflections of callousness developed over centuries of defence of their homeland against savage enemies. But theirs was also a calculated policy of terror – possibly the earliest example of organised psychological warfare. It was not unusual for them to kill every man, woman, and child in captured cities. Sometimes they would carry away entire populations into captivity.

The policies and procedures of Tiglath-Pileser III were employed with vigour and ferocity by his successors and proved invaluable in maintaining security.
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Old March 19th, 2012, 03:28 AM   #10

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772 BC – 705 BC – Reign of Argon II – He was faced by a powerful alliance of the northern provinces, combined with the neighbouring tribes and nations of Armenia, the Caucasus, and Media. In series of campaigns he reconquered the rebellious provinces and extended his rule further north, as well as into central and southern Anatolia. He then returned to Mesopotamia to suppress brutally another Babylonian uprising.

705 BC – 681 BC – Reign of Sennacherib – He was faced with complete insurrections in Palestine, Syria, and Babylonia; among these major set-backs was his repulse at Jerusalem (see 2 Kings XIX). This repulse was probably the result of a pestilence that ravaged his army. However, he regained the lost provinces, and his success culminated in the capture and destruction of Babylon.

681 BC – 668 BC – Reign of Essarhaddon – He was able to maintain better internal order than his immediate predecessors. After repelling incursions of the Cimmerians, an Indo-European people inhabiting south Russian and the Caucasus, Essarhaddon conquered Egypt in 671 BC. Three years later he died while suppressing a revolt in that country.

688 BC – 625 BC – Reign of Ashurbanipal – He put down Egyptian revolts as well as undertaking a number of successful campaigns along the northern frontier. Babylonia rebelled once more under the leadership of his half-brother, Shamash-Shum-ukinin 652 BC. In a bitter four-year struggle Ashurbanipal put down the revolt with typical Assyrian barbarity. Meanwhile, Egypt had risen again and driven out the Assyrian garrisons, while Arabs and Elamites took advantage of Assyria's troubles to attack from the north, west, and east. Ashurbanipal subdued the Arabs, then turned east to crush and practically exterminate the Elamites. Despite his success, the desperate struggles had exhausted the country, almost wiping out the sturdy Assyrian peasantry, the backbone of the army. Assyria, having reached the zenith of her power and magnificence, was forced now to rely largely on mercenaries, mostly from the wild Scythian tribes who had replaced the Cimmerians along the northern frontier. Upon the death of Ashurbanipal their hordes poured across the eastern frontiers, roaming almost at will across the disintegrating empire.

626 BC – Babylonian Revolt – The rebel leader, the satrap, Nabopolassar, formed an alliance with Cyaxares of Media, also rebelling against Assyria.

616 BC – 612 BC – Fall of Assyria – The Median and Babylonian allies (their armies including many Scythians) invaded Assyria. Nineveh was captured and destroyed; the fall of the capital was the end of Assyria, although some resistance persisted in the north-west.
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