Early Achaemenid cavalry

A place to talk about MESHWESH army lists
User avatar
David Kuijt
Grand Master WGC
Posts: 540
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:44 pm
Location: MD suburbs of Washington DC

Re: Early Achaemenid cavalry

Postby David Kuijt » Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:51 pm

Andreas Johansson wrote:
David Kuijt wrote:
I thought that was a Sassanian saying?

It's in Herodotus (I:136).

Whether it was still current in Sassanid times I do not know.


Ah, cool.

Fault of my memory. If it was still current, the meaning might have been completely different, since the early Ach.Persian army was an army of massed foot bowmen with a few horsemen and the Sassanian Persian army was an army of massed horse bowmen with a few foot.
DK

User avatar
David Kuijt
Grand Master WGC
Posts: 540
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:44 pm
Location: MD suburbs of Washington DC

Re: Early Achaemenid cavalry

Postby David Kuijt » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:24 pm

Andreas Johansson wrote:Getting away a bit from the Achaemenids, Duncan does describe Skythian/Saka cavalry as routinely using shields during Achaemenid times. Concretely, he mentions a gold comb from the Solokha kurgan (early 4th century acc'd WP - but no citation given) with a rider with a slung shield as a possible parallel to the Yeniceköy relief, and archaeologically found shields from Gladkovshchina and Pazyryk (5th century BC for the latter). This certainly leaves Persian use of cavalry shields, if there was any, looking less surprising.


Found some good images of the Solokha comb in my Hermitage touristy books. It's definitely a Skythian on horse with a shield, but his shield is slung on his back, not in use on his arm, even though he is in close combat with two footmen at knife range. So while it does support Skythians having shields slung on their backs, it isn't strong support for their using them as protection when in melee against foot (because the dude isn't!). What else could they use them for? Protection against enemy horse archers, I suppose, or when dismounted fighting as foot (for which you cited some earlier cases with regard to Persian cavalry), or maybe just as a convenient way to have your corpse carried home...
DK

Andreas Johansson
Squire
Posts: 120
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:40 pm

Re: Early Achaemenid cavalry

Postby Andreas Johansson » Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:11 pm

The Achaemenid shield from Yeniceköy is slung on the rider's back too, if it's a shield.

User avatar
David Kuijt
Grand Master WGC
Posts: 540
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:44 pm
Location: MD suburbs of Washington DC

Re: Early Achaemenid cavalry

Postby David Kuijt » Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:33 pm

Here's a link to the shield side of the Solokha comb:

Image

The other side doesn't show us much more, except that the rear-side footman's shield is also manipulated by a center grip, and that the rider is using a spear.
DK

Andreas Johansson
Squire
Posts: 120
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:40 pm

Re: Early Achaemenid cavalry

Postby Andreas Johansson » Sat May 05, 2018 3:39 pm

If the necromancy be excused, Anthony Clipsom made me aware of this article on Achaemenid cavalry: All the King's Horse

Some observations of relevance for this thread:

Regarding bow use, Tuplin observes that bows are depicted in the hands of Persian horsemen (more commonly hunters than cavalrymen, apparently) on seals etc, but much less often than spears, and mostly in Xerxes I's reign or earlier.

Regarding shields, assyriologists have apparently reinterpreted Gadal-Iama's two shields as a quiver and a scabbard (and redated the document to 421 BC). This leaves the man with somewhere to put his 120 arrows - but no explicitly mentioned bow!

In another inscription, Darius is more explicit about shooting from horseback:
I am skilled both in hands and in feet. As a horseman, I am a good horseman. As a bowman, I am a good bowman, both on foot and on horseback. As a spearman, I am a good spearman, both on foot and on horseback.

(whole inscription reproduced, transcribed, and translated here.

Acc'd Tuplin's summary of Greek accounts - such Persian and Babylonian battle accounts as exist have no tactical detail at all - Achaemenid horsemen are most commonly described as fighting hand to hand with spears or swords; less commonly as throwing spears, and less commonly still as shooting with bows. He finds little reason to assume that there existed different classes of cavalry specialized in different weapons or tactics, but acknowledges as plausible that Saka et sim. contingents may have been especially proficient in horse archery. This presumably rules out Horse Bow for the bulk of Achaemenid cavalry.

He's skeptical there was much practical difference between the cavalry of Darius I and Darius III.


Return to “Army List Discussions”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest