Ancient Battle History: Warriors and Weapons.
Ancient battle has made an enormous impact on the world today, in fact entire nations today would have been a lot different if it wasn’t for some Ancient battles. But it is impossible for these to have all happened by chance, it was guided by the sovereignty of God. God cared about every single soldier that ever stepped foot in a battle, He knew each moment from when the warrior placed on his helmet and took up his weapons and armor, to when he was charging on the battlefield. The Lord Jesus Christ was watching this the whole time, and He has put this all together for his amazing plan. Now we are going to take a look in detail at the warriors themselves and the weapons they wielded.
The Ancient Greeks.
In Ancient Greece all the places were separated into their own city state, or polis. So each one had its own rules, government and laws. Though there were hundreds of these, some of the most famous ones were Athens, Sparta, and Corinth. Athens was mainly a democracy, and very politically based. Sparta was very warlike and fierce. And Corinth was mainly neutral and would sometimes ally with either one.
Athens and Sparta would constantly fight with each other. Mainly because the two places were polar opposites. Though sometimes they would join forces and help each other, most of the time they disagreed with one another.
Athens main strength was in its Navy, whereas with the Spartans it was their disciplined Army. Most, if not all, city states had their very own army. In Athens their warriors would mainly join around the age of seventeen and serve for a couple of years, (later on, the Romans also did this.) In Sparta, every soldier would go through brutal military training, started at the age of seven or eight.
The warriors were called Hoplites, which comes from the Greek word Hoplon. Hoplites were heavily armed Infantry fighters, and were some of the best warriors in the Ancient world. They were held in the same respect that a Knight of the middle ages might be held. Similarly, sometimes kings would hire mercenary Hoplites to fight for them. Like king Darius did, for example, when he faced Alexander the Great.
The Hoplites had good and effective arms and weapons. They wore a bronze helmet that protected their entire head, with just a few small openings for their eyes and mouth. One of the most famous types of these helmets was the Corinthian helmet. Made from a single piece of bronze hammered into a unique shape, it was sometimes dome shaped at the top, which would glance blows as well as block them straight on, sometimes the helmet was plumed on the top with feathers or horsehair.
The Hoplites also wore a bronze cuirass, which protected all of their upper body, and their legs were protected by knee-high bronze greaves.
As for their arms and weapons, they carried an 8 to 10 foot long spear called a Dory. On one end of the spear, there was a sharp, broad, iron point, this was the main fighting end that they would thrust with. At the other, there was a smaller, pointy, bronze spike, with this they could thrust the spear into the ground, or use it as a secondary weapon if the primary end was lost, or if the shaft broke.
The Hoplites sidearm was a short sword called a Xiphos. The single-handed grip was usually made of bronze, but the blade could be made of iron, or roughly forged steel. The Xiphos had a broad, rather heavy, leaf-shaped blade that could be used for both thrusting and hacking. While in most places the Xiphos was around 2 feet, the Spartans preferred theirs shorter, about 20 inches. Certainly the reason it was shortened was so it would fit their fighting formation and style. The word Xiphos in Greek means something like “penetrating light.”
In the Hoplites other hand, he held a huge, heavy shield made of wood and leather, and often coated in a thin sheet of bronze. It was up to 3 and half, to 4 feet in diameter, and up to 24 pounds in weight. Being the Hoplites main defensive weapon, it could block pretty much any weapon of its day. But the shield could also be used as a very effective offensive weapon, being wide and heavy enough. The shield was called an Aspis by the Greeks, but it is also referred to as the Hoplon shield.
The Hoplites fought in a densely packed formation called a Phalanx. Each Hoplite would stand shoulder to shoulder, and shield to shield, with their spears in their other hand, each protecting the other. The entire front of the Phalanx was like a bronze wall, bristled with spears. Often the Phalanx might be about 8 men deep and 8 men wide (64 men overall,) though it would always vary. The Phalanx was ideal for both offense and defense, some of the best examples of this was when the massive Persian army invaded Greece in 480 BC.
The Spartan Xiphos sword. Image from imperialweapons.