I cut their throats like lambs. I cut off their precious lives [as one cuts] a string. Like the many waters of a storm, I made [the contents of] their gullets and entrails run down upon the wide earth.
— Sennacherib, King of Assyria

The Assyrians were a warlike people of Mesopotamia who began settlement in their original capital, Ashur, sometime in the 26th century BCE. Over the next two millennia, the fortunes of Assyria would steadily grow until they became the world's first true empire, controlling nearly all of the known Middle East and Egyptian North Africa at their greatest extent in the mid 7th century BCE. Their army was the source of their power, which in the late period had become a full standing army no longer tied to the imperatives of harvest cycles which constrained the armies of rival powers. It was an army built to campaign year-round in all terrain and weather. The invention of the leather military boot allowed the infantry to march longer over rough terrain, and specially-trained engineering units learned to build bridges to cross the marshy waters of Southern Mesopotamia. As their empire expanded and brought them into conflict with mountain peoples like the Urartians, Assyria gradually abandoned the chariot in favor of their new innovation, cavalry, signaling a decisive shift that was to shape warfare for the next two and a half millennia. But perhaps the greatest forte of the Assyrian army was its skill in siege warfare. For most of ancient history, sieges had been slow affairs of starvation, as armies did not yet possess the proper tools to breach reinforced city walls. However, the Assyrians, with their sappers who were trained to tunnel under walls and siege towers equipped with battering rams, almost invariably preferred a dramatic storming to the sit and wait game. Of course, this was for rebellious cities, as the primary purpose of any campaign was to collect tribute from vassal states. Those who refused to pay, however, were treated with the utmost cruelty, and the Assyrian official records often made little attempt to hide this fact.

Over a 2000-year time span, Assyria witnessed numerous revolutions in military affairs. From early Sumerian/Akkadian phalanx tactics through the introduction of the chariot, the bow, the composite bow, and iron technology. From about 1200 BCE onward, to the empire's demise at the end of the 7th century BCE, Assyria possessed the most highly trained and effective fighting force in all of Mesopotamia. By the late period, they fielded a well-balanced force of footmen, cavalry, and archers, equipped with composite bows, iron spears, swords, maces, and slings. For protection, they wore iron lamellar armor, which was so effective that in modern tests it was proven capable of resisting shot from muskets used in Napoleon's army. They also had shields ranging in size from small dueling shields to man-sized shields for archers. Cavalry were armed primarily with composite bows, though various reliefs to attest to the employment of lancers as well. This army was so effective that at Assyria's height, none could stand against the ferocity of their army. Among the major political powers that became its victims were the Mittani Empire , the Kushite 25th Dynasty of Egypt, Urartu , the Elamite Empire of Southwestern Persia, Babylon.

In the ideology of the Assyrian state, warfare was the a process of ordering the universe. War did not necessarily mean battle, as the inferior power could bow to the divine Assyrian order by paying tribute, but it was seen as natural and unavoidable so long as people resisted. In this line of reasoning, Assyrian warfare was represented as a self-defense against a "cosmic rebellion." In this respect, there is no evidence of any forcible attempt to convert subject peoples to Ashurism or destroy their idols. Instead, Assyrian kings often depicted themselves paying respect to foreign deities, because these deities can be said to ordain and justify Assyrian invasion as divine punishment for their sinful people. Sometimes gods were even "godnapped" into the service of Assyria.

As the pioneers of most of the military technologies that came to dominate battlefields for the next 2000 years, the Assyrians were the world's first true masters of war and foremost among all Iron Age powers. But their legacy is not merely recorded in their military exploits, for they left us crucial advances of of engineering and culture, such as the world's first aqueduct system, the first paved roads, the first postal service, and the first library. Their last great king, Ashurbanipal, was among the first kings in the world to not only be literate, but uniquely literate in multiple languages, including the archaic forms of Sumerian and Akkadian. The Royal Library at Nineveh was the greatest collection of Cuneiform tablets in the ancient world.

Battle vs. Shang Warrior (by Yetimonster)

After a long time, all I got were a vote for each side. I'll go with instinct on this.

Somewhere in a feild in China, a Shang Warrior prepares arrows for a Composite Bow, beneath a tree. Nearby, the warrior's chariot and driver wait. Suddenly, a chariot carrying two Assyrians approaches. The Shang Warrior imeadiately spots them, and fires an arrow at the attackers. The arrow whizzes by the Assyrians, who are entirely unphased. The Shang Warrior fires a second arrow, with snaps after hitting the chariot. The Shang Warrior gets in his own chariot, and orders his driver to charge. The two chariots eventually pass by eachother, only to turn around once they reach the end of the feild. Once the two chariots pass eachother again, the Shang Warrior slashes the Assyrian driver's neck with his Ge dagger axe. The second Assyrian is forced to take control of the chariot to avoid crashing. The Assyrian then pulls his own Bow and Arrow, and fires twoards the Shang Warrior. The arrow kills the chariot driver while the chariot is still in motion, forcing the Shang Warrior to leap out before the horses drag the chariot into the nearby woods. The Shang Warrior arms himself with his Ji Haleberd, as opposed to the Assyrian's spear. The two battle for several seconds until, the Assyrian, stabs the Shang Warrior in the leg, and knocks the Ji away. The Shang Warrior, manages to flee into the forest, before the Assyrian can reach any of his weapons. The Assyian is then reduced to his Sapara and Sling. The Assyrian chases his foe into the forest, where he sees the Shang Warrior, armed with a Mao, standind up high on a cliff. The Shang Warrior, spins the spear wildly, and charges the Assyrian. The Assyrian hurls a rock at him with his sling, but the attack fails. The Assyiran (know using his Sapara) and Shang Warrior continue their battle, blocking eachother's strikes. The battle takes the two twoards the cliff, where the Shang Warrior knocks the Sapara away, and stabs the Assyrian through the chest. The Shang Warrior then tosses the body off the cliff to the ground below.

Expert's Opinion

Please consider a contribution by writing an expert's opinion as to why the Shang Warrior won.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

Battle vs. Celtic Warrior (by Urbancommando77)

No battle written


Expert's Opinion

Due to a lack of votes, the author was unable to decide between the two warriors and therefore ended it in a tie.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

Battle vs. Spartan Hoplites (by Killermoves)

In a small flat grassy field in the Peloponnese, two colossal armies came to face each other. One was the might Assyrian army, a highly versatile war machine comprised of the best infantry, archery and chariotry in all the Fertile Crescent. On one the side were the brutal Spartans of Greece, who marched along in tight formation with their well-trained heavy infantry, archer auxiliaries and small cavalry. The two sides met face to face, none of whom dared to attack first without the orders of their general. These men were no barbarians; they were two of the most highly-disciplined and powerful soldiers the ancient world has ever seen.

As customary to battles at that time, the generals and negotiators came to meet each other first, to discuss any alternatives to spare their men from certain death. The Assyrian commander came in a golden lavish chariot pulled by 4-horses and flanked by spear men and archers. The Spartan general came to the meeting being more simplistic, riding out to meet his foes on a horse together with a few bodyguards. The Assyrian was the first to open a parley:

"It's a good morning, isn't it?" The Assyrian commander said.

"Indeed," The Spartan general replied. "Vultures are already circling us. I bet they can't wait to finally feast on something."

"I can see that my dear fellow. Do you not wish to save your men from being eaten by those scavengers?"

"We trekked quite a lot of miles to get here just to hand over our asses that easily."

"General, I think you should see the better option. You cannot possibly win this. Our empire has stretched from almost all the known world, your little city state only being saved by a sea. We promised you complete protection for your people, the retainment of your lands and politics, and even the chance to fight alongside us as allies, if you choose wisdom over stubborness and surrender to us."

"You offering us to become your vassals? Bah! We Spartans love a lot of things. But we cherish our independence the most."

"Don't be a hypocrite dear fellow. You grovel about freedom while you keep and abuse your helot slaves on your hellish farms."

"You are mistaken friend. There are a lot of lies thrown against us, but yes, we do cherish freedom and independence. But we also believe that it is something that only the worthy and the strong can rightfully earn."

"For a supposed Spartan, you talk a lot from your average hoplite."

"Dire times need dire words. Now Assyrian, are we going to conclude this morning with further talk, or are we going to fight like warriors now?"

"So be it then. May your gods have mercy on your souls."

The two leaders then went back to their respective armies. The Assyrian general opened up by telling all his chariots to charge straight into the Spartan infantry and scatter them. As the battle horns blasted, and the screams of the horses, the chariots charged in formation towards the poor infantrymen. He then ordered his Assyrian heavy foot soldiers to follow the chariots and mop everything up the moment the chariots do their work. But the Spartan general was not going to be intimidated by such beasts. He ordered his men to stand their ground and await for his signal.

As the chariots got closer, he still kept his hoplite in their tight phalanx formation. The Spartans remained calm and reserved even as the jaws of death approaches.

When the two sides finally clashed, the Spartan general's gamble paid off as their spears forced the horses to stop in fear. Many of the chariots even topple themselves from the sudden halting. With his signal, the hoplite then temporarily break way from formation and stabbed the fallen charioteers with their spears. Some of the chariot who were still intact and was trying to get away, was promptly chased down and struck by spears and javelins by the Spartans. One chariot did manage to break through before crashing unto the Spartans. The heavy vehicle tumbling down on those infantry, creating great damage and almost eradicating one platoon, but the Spartans held on. So far, the Greek army held triumphant in the opening battle but now they were up against the Assyrian infantry.

Enraged by the defeat of their chariot brothers, the Assyrian foot soldiers slammed themselves shield first unto the thick phalanx of the Spartans. They tried to push their way through but the Spartans held them in place. Soon, the Spartans started to counter them with well placed spear thrusts to their unarmored body parts like the face and the groin. As they were getting beaten up again, the Assyrians grabbed their longswords and started chopping the Spartans spears before charging yet again into the shield formation. But the Spartans manage to get their xiphos, and due to its low profile, worked wonders stabbing and cutting the Assyrians in that tight and crowded battle.

Fearing that it won't be long before his infantryman finally rout, the Assyrian general made his archers move forward in a desperate attempt to give support. But as the archers slowly march forward with their shield bearers, they were suddenly ambushed by the elite skiritai archers in the employ of the Spartans. The skirmishers unleashed a volley of arrows which surprised and decimated the unsuspecting Assyrian archers. The Assyrians manage to regroup though and used their pavise shields to protect from further arrow barrage. They then tried to fire back but the skiritai fell back, before appearing again this time at the Assyrians other side, surprising them again and slowly chopping away at their numbers.

It was now the Assyrian archer's time to fall back, and as the skiritai continued to fire, they were slowly massacred as they proved to be too slow to escape. The Assyrian infantrymen also started to fall back as the defenses of the Spartans proved to be too much. And as they did so, they were promptly chased and cut down by the Spartans mercilessly. Seeing that his army was defeated the Assyrian commander told his driver to turn his chariot away from the battle. But as they were leaving, a detachment of Spartan cavalry came out of nowhere and chased them. The slow moving chariot could not escape the cavalry as the Spartans were getting closer, and while the Assyrian general and his archers manage to take some of the cavalrymen out with their powerful composite bows, one of the horseman manage to get close and stab the fat Assyrian in his belly. The body of the Assyrian general then fell on one of the chariot's wheel, making the large and grandiose chariot flip and turn over, killing everyone inside.

The remaining Assyrians were massacred on the spot, being too slow to run away nor too soft to take on the Spartans head on in a last stand. Only an eighth of their number managed to flee, with almost zero chariots left. They would soon die on their way back to Assyria, being harassed by other Greek city states before finally being killed by the desert in the North. Nonetheless, in that small open plain, the Spartans emerged victorious and together with their general, they cheered loudly and sang to their gods.

Expert's Opinion

The experts believed that the Spartans won because they had the better units overall. For example, while both of their infantrymen were armored, the Spartans proved to be the one who still remained mobile. Their archers too proved to be more balanced in speed and in defenses compared to the slower moving heavy archers of the Assyrians. When it came to their mounts, cavalry prove to be more maneuverable than the heavy chariots. Even in their tactics, the Spartans proved to be more intelligence overall.

While they also believed that the Assyrians were more versatile than the rigid Spartan army, and while they do have the numbers advantage, they were still not enough to turn the tide in their favor. The Spartans were deemed to be the deadliest ancient warrior yet again.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

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