Mesopotamian Military external image sj_019.pngexternal image Woa06.jpg

---by David B. & Andrea Fei


The word "Mesopotamia" is from the Greek meaning of "between two rivers". It was surrounded by Tigris and Euprates rivers. The people there, called Mesopotamians, depended on farming and developed one of the earliest civilizations. Some of them were villages of Kish, Nippur, Umma, Lagash, and Uruk, and they attack sometimes.
Ancient Mesopotamia was marked with tremendous wars, and the city was opened to attack. They developed their weapons and invented things that were useful in battles. Ancient Mesopotamian artists drew the battles that were related to history on the wall, the goal to record these memorial wars.
Mesopotamia had the earliest civilization, which started around 5000BC. During the history, there were four countries in Mesopotamia. They were Persia(Iraq now), Assyria, Babylon, and Sumeria. All of them used military power to defeat each other.


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.

1. Javelin: a light spear, usually thorn by hands.
2.Bronze: any of various alloys consisting essentially of copper and tin, the tin content not exceeding 11 percent.
Mesopotamia Helmet
Mesopotamia Helmet


The Mesopotamians had a surprisingly adept grasp of tactics. In the next few sections, we are going to inform you mesopotamia's tactics.

The Mesopotamian army really knew how to use formations. They developed the Roman famous formation"testudo" and invented some other formations as well. There was another formation called "the spearman", which was a powerful formation. The Sumerian people also invented a rectangular formation called "the phalanx formation", this formation is a military formation. Soldiers were armed with hard javelins, heavy armors and sharp spears. If one was too weak or unable to lift their shield high enough, it would effect the whole formation in a negative way so all needed to be strong.

1. Formations: a particular disposition of troops, as in columns, squares, etc.

In the army there was about 1,040,000 fully trained foot soldiers armed with spears,swords and shields. In a higher rank than the foot soldiers were the infantry. In the time of King Xerxes there were 70,000 well trusted and well trained infantry that were armed with stronger shields which were made of metal or bronze. A strong troop had to have good disipline and fully-trained soldiers so they could defeat all the other armies.

1. Infantry: soldiers or military units that fight on foot, in modern times typically with rifles, machine guns, grenades, mortars, etc., as weapons. In the text, It means soldiers who use their bare feet and fight.

Soldier leading chariot horses into battle

The mesopotamian calvalry had all sorts of horse included transportations. One of them was the horse drawn chariots. The chariots back then were made of wood with two horses pulling. The chariot shape was squared with the end sequred with handles also made with a strong wood. The amount of people riding these chariots were two; one handling the horses up front and the other throwing javelins or shooting arrows. The other transportation was riding on the horse. The saddle was a mere blanket that had no stirrup of any kind. The bridle on the other hand was very fashionable. The bit was very polished with ornaments on the crownpiece.

1. Cavalry: the part of a military force composed of troops that serve on horseback.
2. Crownpiece: the strap of a bridle that fits across the head of a horse.


Military Arts

Assyria was the only power force which produced an empire. They occupied the entire Mesopotamia and divided it into provinces. When other influences began to attack Assyria, Assyria would counterattack them. It said that Assyrians has the strongest troops around 3200BC. No matter how the battle would end, the artists who belonged to another power force would be requested to record those events on the tablets. For example, once the Babylonians ended battle with failure, but there were still some artists who decorated victory wars on their city walls.


In ancient Mesopotamia, spear and axe were two popular weapons for their army. They were made of metal and stone, if you got the chance to touch it, you'd feel that these weapons are as hard as a rock, and they were really uneasy to break. The Greek writer Herodotus had described Mesopotamia's weapons before. He quoted, "The Assyrians went to war with helmets upon their heads made of brass, and plated in a strange fashion which is not easy to describe . They carried shields, lances, and
daggers a lot like the Egyptians; but in addition they had wooden clubs knotted with iron, and linen corselets."

About Assyria

We have mention that Assyrian was the strongest army in Mesopotamia in the previous text. The Assyrian army had included 150,000-200,000 men and use this powerful troop to defeat each other. Assyrian warriors were all valiant, a field with 50000 men in combat could be equal to 5 modern American heavy divisions. The reason of why Assyria could be made an empire was because they had a well equiped and armed force. Soldiers had good food to feed them. Each soldier would need 3,402 calories a day and 70 grams of protein to sustain him. They also need 9 quarts of water to add to the meal.


Schomp,Virgina.Ancient Mesopotamia. New York:Franklin Watts Publishing,2004**
Reece,Katherine.The mesopotamians:conquerors of the middle east. 2005 Rourke Publishing LLC.