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Ancient Armies


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Angel Salinas Saldaña 22-11-2014
Ancient Armies

Well, in the ancient times people defended and fought for their territory by making a huge army of strong people who gave their life for their city. I’m going to talk about 3 of the best armies that have existed.
The army of the Kingdom of Macedonia was among the greatest military forces of the ancient world. It was created and made formidable by King Philip II of Macedon; previously the army of Macedon had been of little account in the politics of the Greek world, and Macedonia had been regarded as a second-rate power.
Tactical improvements included the latest developments in the deployment of the traditional Greek phalanx made by men such as Epaminondas of Thebes and Iphicrates of Athens. Philip II improved on these military innovators by using both Epaminondas' deeper phalanx and Iphicrates' combination of a longer spear and smaller and lighter shield. However, the Macedonian king also innovated; he introduced the use of a much longer spear, the two-handed pike. The Macedonian pike, the sarissa, gave its wielder many advantages both offensively and defensively. For the first time in Greek warfare, cavalry became a decisive arm in battle. The Macedonian army perfected the co-ordination of different troop types, an early example of combined arms tactics — the heavy infantry phalanx, skirmish infantry, archers, light and heavy cavalry, and siege engines were all deployed in battle; each troop type being used to its own particular advantage and creating a synergy of mutual support.
Unfortunately, most of the primary historical sources for this period have been lost. As a consequence, scholarship is largely reliant on the writings of Diodorus Siculus and Arrian, both of whom lived centuries later than the events they describe.
The Spartan City State (Sparta) produced what is probably the most iconic military in ancient history. The ancient Spartan warriors are known for their bravery, professionalism and skill, a reputation well deserved. At their zenith they proved themselves to be the best of the Greek hoplite warriors, the premier fighting force of their time. Spartan political power peaked from the 6th to 4th century BC; however Spartan military power had its roots much earlier.
The evolution of the Spartan army began during the heroic Mycenaean age (1600 BCE to 1100 BCE), a time in Greek history when tactics were simple and warriors sought individual glory (and fought out of formation). Invading warlike Indo-Europeans attacked from the North in one part of histories most massive invasions, spanning the ancient near east from Egypt to India. Waves of invaders vied for land with the local populations.
The ancient Greeks found protection in natural citadels, or poleis, where they could defend themselves from raiding neighbors and pirates. Soon leaders of the each polis organized efforts to defend their crops and pastures and formed the political bases of the Greek city states.
The training of Spartan warriors started when they were boys. They were sent to a military boarding school, or agoge, at age seven where they formed a class with other boys their age. Their education emphasized physical, mental and spiritual toughness and could be quite brutal. They were taught to endure hardship and pitted against each other in fights by their instructors.
Their primary weapon was a spear around 7-9 feet (2.7 meters) in length called a doru. The doru had a leaf shaped spearhead on the business end and a spike on the other. Spartan warriors also carried a short sword, the xiphos, to be used as a secondary weapon and in the crush of battle when only a short weapon could be used effectively.

Aztec society was rigid, stratified class system in which each class (or caste) had a roll designed to support the Aztec warriors. Warfare was thus the main driving force of both the Aztec economy and religion. The Aztec Empire was organized with a strong central government headed by the emperor. The priests and a warriors castes came next, they were made up of nobles who enjoyed a high status in Aztec society. These warriors formed a professional core in Aztec armies and were ranked according to their achievements on the battlefield. The bulk of Aztec armies were made up of levies, commoners required to serve time in compulsory military service. Every Aztec male was a warrior and received basic military training from a young age, whether trader, craftsman or farmer. In fact, military achievement, particularly the taking of prisoners, was the only vehicle for upward social movement available for commoners. The Aztec and Mesoamerican militaries evolved on a very different, and incredibly interesting, trajectory than those of the old world resulting in many unique, effective and gruesome weapons and tactics.

The Aztec warriors wore Ichcahuipilli, a quilted cotton armor. These vests were one or two fingers thick, and the material was resistant to obsidian swords, arrows and atlatl darts. The light armor worked well in the hot climate of central Mexico. They also employed small round shields, called Chimalli, made of wood and twisted fibers. These shields featured painted designs and could be decorated with feathers hanging from them. Other shields were made of very thick cotton and could be rolled up while on the march. If a warrior captured six prisoners they could be awarded a carved hardwood helmet. These helmets could have different animals carved into them.

The Macuahuitl, a word meaning "hungry-wood", was the standard armament of the elite cadres. It was essentially a wooden sword with sharp obsidian blades embedded into its sides. The razor sharp obsidian blades were placed in groves that ran the length of the blade and held in place by a form of plant resin adhesive. The Macuahuitl could deliver a horrific gash. It certainly could have decapitated a man and was reported to have even decapitated a conquistadors horse. They were made to be either one-handed or two-handed weapons. The two-handed macuahuitl has been described “as tall as a man”. They came in rectangular, ovoid, or pointed forms. The macuahuitl had some serious drawbacks however. The obsidian blades were fragile and could shatter after a single strike. The weapons were also cumbersome and required a lot of space to swing which tended to make it hard for users to stay in formation. The macuahuitl is also known in Spanish by the Taino word "macana".
Another ancient weapon commonly used by front lines was the Tepoztopilli. The tepoztopilli was a pole-arm, roughly the height of a man, with a broad spear shaped, wooden head about 6”-8” wide, edged with obsidian blades which were deeply set in grooves like the blades of a macuahuitl. The weapon could be used for slashing or stabbing, it also offered some protection due its superior reach. Aztec warriors also employed clubs with round wooden balls at the ends, clubs with inlaid obsidian blades and hatchets.

For long range weapons the Aztecs employed bows and slings.
Its amazing how people have become more civilized and now we don´t have to fight every time to get a new city. I really enjoy investigating about this warriors and I hope I could learn more.

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