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Assyrian And Babylonian Empires 900BC - 538BC

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Assyria was an ancient Kingdom of Northern Mesopotamia centered on the cities of Ashur and Nineveh. Babylon was an ancient city which ruled over southern Mesopotamia.

The Assyrians fought the Armenian Kingdoms, Hittite Kingdoms, Urartians, Babylonians, Chaldeans, Arabians, Israelites and Judeans, Egyptians, Kushites, Elamites, Medians, Scythians, Phrygians and each other in civil wars. The Babylonian Empire warred against Egypt, Judea, Lydia and Persia.

The Heavy Infantry can be used as either Guard or Heavy Assyrian Infantry depending on the shield they are using. They are the tough backbone of the mighty Assyrian army.

Heavy Archers were used in the same units as the spearmen, the archers forming the rear ranks behind them. An archer in pack ASS003 comes with the option of an officer's arm holding a mace.

Auxiliary troops are the subject people of Assyria from the Neo-Hittite states, Aramaenia and Chaldea. Again the front rank would be spearmen supported by archers in the rear rank or ranks. The archers can also be used as skirmishers. All the Chaldeans can also be used in a Babylonian army.

Our Assyrians and Babylonians were sculpted by Alan Perry.

The Assyrians and Babylonians had excellent chariotry and cavalry.

Chariot frames were covered in leather that was brightly painted, and occasionally iron or bronze scale armour.

Horses were usually black, chestnut or blue-grey. The horses had iron scale armour or felt bards often in white, but could be any light colour. Light blue looks good. 

The Assyrians intervened in Babylon and attempted to rule it directly. During this time Chaldean tribes settled in Babylonia. They were anti-Assyrian while the city dwellers tended to be pro-Assyrian. The Assyrian Empire expanded relentlessly, suffering occasional setbacks from the defiant Aramaean kingdoms such as Damascus, notably at the Battle of Karkur in 853BC. These were eventually conquered and annexed by Tiglath Pileser III.

The Empire soon expanded to include Israel, Phonecia, Hittite kingdoms and highland regions to the east and west. The rival kingdom of Urartu (Armenia) was defeated by Sargon II. The Chaldean Merodach-Baladan led a serious revolt in Babylonia and allied with Elam. Sennacherib waged a long war against Babylon and her Elamite allies, culminating in the sack of the city. He also campaigned against Judah and Egypt. Esarhaddon and Ashgurbanipal finally defeated and conquered Egypt but renewed revolts broke out in Babylon leading to further war with Elam and it's eventual defeat at the battle of the Ulai.

The Assyrian empire was now at it's furthest extent but worn out by continuous war. The revolt of the Chaldean Nabonidus, assisted by Medians and Scyths brought about the fall of the Assyrian Empire, despite Egypt joining forces with Assyria. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took over most of the former Assyrian Empire, defeated Egypt and sacked Jerusalem. The Babylonian Empire was soon to fall in it's turn to Cyrus of Persia in 539BC.

Army Organisation - Units of 50, 200, 600 and 1000 men. Royal Guard (Qurubuti), Standing Army (Kisir sharruit) and provincial auxiliaries (Sab Sharri). Five army divisions.

Best Troops - Excellent chariotry, cavalry and siege techniques.

Typical Allies and Mercenaries - Hittites, Chaldeans, Arabs, Cimerians, Scyths, Aramaeans, Urartians, Mannaians, Medians.

Terrain - Homeland: irrigated river valley of Mesopotamia. Much fighting in mountains, marshes of Iraq Judea, Syrian deserts and plains, Iran.

Hypothetical Encounters - Assyrians vs Lydians, Assyrians or Babylonians vs Greek Hoplite army. Assyrians vs Indians.



The Assyrians had a dark Arab complexion and dark hair, often black.

Linen or woollen kilts in plain white, red, blue or crimson (the red was a madder red, the crimson was bright and came from Ancient Tyre) or the kilts were heavily patterned. The plain kilt could also have a geometric border. The kilt usually had a plain or bi-coloured fringe, often of red and white. Kisir sharruti units (the regular backbone of the army) would most likely have blue or red uniforms.

Many Assyrians also wore the ubiquitous highly patterned trousers in horizontal strips or zigzags of contrasting colours.

The armour and helmets were mainly in iron with some in bronze, or iron with bronze decoration. Weapons were of iron with bronze fittings.

The shields were covered with leather with bronze rims or bosses, mainly painted plain blue or red, or painted with concentric circles of contrasting colours, some with stylised flowers within the circles in white. The shields could also be in other solid bright colours and some had concentric zigzag patterns.

The chariot frames were covered in leather that was brightly painted, and occasionally iron or bronze scale armour. Their horses were usually black, chestnut or blue-grey. The horses had iron scale armour or felt bards often in white, but could be any light colour. Light blue looks good.

The Assyrians carried standards of gilded bronze showing the God Ashur with coloured streamers in red and blue.

Text by Nigel Stillman.

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