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Ancient Warfare magazine Vol VIII-3 - Horsemen of the steppes

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Ancient Warfare magazine Vol VIII-3 - Horsemen of the steppes Theme: Horsemen of the steppes... mehr
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Ancient Warfare magazine Vol VIII-3 - Horsemen of the steppes

Theme: Horsemen of the steppes

Introduction: Sidney Dean, 'Historical introduction - Horsemen of the steppes'.
Illustrated by Maxime Plasse.

Cimmerians. Sarmatians. Scythians. Horsemen of the steppes. They emerged from the fog of prehistory around the eighth century BC. Semi-nomadic, they dominated the Pontic Steppes for a millennium. Over centuries, pressure from one steppe people against another kicked off great migratory patterns. The mobile, agile and ferocious horsemen became a scourge upon their more civilized neighbours to the south. Other migrations took them west into Central and Western Europe and east as far as Mongolia.

The source: Michael Taylor, 'Reading up on the horsemen of the steppes - Herodotus and the Scythians'.

In Herodotus' Histories, two foreign peoples are singled out for an extensive ethnographic excursus: the Egyptians in Book 2 and the Scythians in Book 4. Herodotus' schematic view of human geography saw these two peoples as parallels: the Egyptians live along the Nile, the great river that bisects the continent of Libya, while the Scythians live along the Ister (Danube), the great river that bisects Europe. The two peoples serve as useful foils: the Egyptians are the most civilized of peoples, while the Scythians are the most feral. Perhaps most importantly, in a work seeking to explain the great Persian wars, the Egyptians succumb to Persian invasion, while the Scythians successfully resist.

Theme: Owen Rees, 'Horse(wo)men of the steppes - The Amazons'.
Illustrated by Matthew Zikry.

The concept of a gynocratic, warrior society that excluded men has usually elicited one of three reactions from commentators: lustful imagination, misogynistic derision, or fear. As such, the Amazons have survived in the modern parlance and influenced the present archetype of the powerful women adopting 'male' qualities to succeed; either as the only way to explain their prowess, or as a way to condemn their actions as unfeminine - even unnatural.

Theme: Cam Rea, 'King of the world - Dugdammi'.
Illustrated by Angel García Pinto'.

In 660 BCE , mighty Assyria was about to be shaken. A king of the steppes, named Dugdammi (Lygdamis), united many nomadic tribes into a confederation. This mighty confederation pushed against the borders of Assyria, which frightened King Ashurbanipal, the powerful ruler of the Assyrian Empire.

Theme: Marc G. DeSantis, 'Darius the Great's Scythian expedition, 512 BC - A nomad strategy of persistence'.

There is a venerable adage among soldiers that 'no plan survives contact with the enemy.' The intent of this saying is to alert officers to the need to have a back-up plan when things inevitably go awry in the crucible of war. But what if the enemy refuses contact altogether? Does the plan still need to change?

Theme: Filippo Donvito, 'The battle for the Bosporan Kingdom, 310/309 BC - Scythians versus Sarmatians'.
Illustrated by Radu Oltean and Julia Lillo.

During the long reign of King Parysades I (344/343-310/309 BC), the Greek kingdom of the Cimmerian Bosporus (present Crimea and Taman peninsula) reached its zenith. At the king's death, however, the situation suddenly worsened. Eumelus, the second of his sons, did not recognize his elder brother Satyrus as rightful king, and took refuge among the Sarmatian tribes dwelling east of the Don River. To get rid of the pretender, Satyrus could not but ask for the help of his Scythian allies.

Theme: Matthew Beazley, 'Alexander's pummelling of the Scythians - The Battle of the Jaxartes'.
Illustrated by Milek Jakubiec.

The importance of the Battle of the Jaxartes lies not with its size or strategic value. The battle was fought on a small scale and served no greater purpose other than to teach a band of brigands a lesson. However, one can choose to teach that band of brigands a lesson in style, using ingenious tactics and flawless execution. Alexander the Great was not infallible. Indeed he made several mistakes during his career, but this battle was not one of them. To cross a river in the face of the Scythians, to fight them on terrain of their choosing and to utterly dominate in combat is a rare event in history.


The find: Konrad Stauner, 'Roman emperors, their armies and the parapompê - Pedestal for a hero'.

"In accordance with the decision of the mightiest Council, Ulpia Athenais (set up this monument for) Fl(avius) Ulpius Demokritos, the hero, son of Fl(avius) Ulpius Arrianos, who had held a priesthood, had given money to the Council and to the people, had been first archôn, censor, and curator of the Prusans and had performed a parapompê at his own expense; the most excellent (mother) for the most beloved son."

Special: Arianna Sacco, 'The war-reliefs of Seti I at Karnak - The conquering pharaoh'.

The New Kingdom (ca. 1550-1077 BC) was a period in which Egypt was, for the first time, enacting proper imperialist and expansionistic policies in the Near East. Within this period, the nineteenth Dynasty (ca. 1292-1189 BC), Egypt flourished, producing no less famous a ruler than Ramesses II (r. 1279-1213 BC), known for his battles against kingdoms of the ancient Near East and particularly for the Battle of Kadesh. His direct predecessor and father, Seti I (r.1290-1279 BC), was no less warlike and capable.

The debate: Duncan B. Campbell, 'An obscure debat over a very long spear - How long was the Macedonian sarissa?'

Nineteenth-century historians were fascinated by the Macedonian phalanx and its characteristic weapon, the sarissa. However, some were convinced that reports of the sarissa's extreme length must be incorrect, while others struggled to reconcile the testimony of different ancient writers and even resorted to altering the original texts. Looking back over a century-and-a-half of scholarship, we can see how the debate was derailed by misinformation and finally brought back on track by the discovery of an unexpected source.
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