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"Armies of Sumer" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2020 3:23 p.m. PST

"The almost constant warfare among the Sumerian city-states for 2,000 years spurred the development of military technology and technique far beyond any similar development found elsewhere in the Near East at that time. The first Sumerian war for which there is detailed evidence occurred between the states of Lagash and Umma in 2525 b. c. e. In this conflict Eannatum of Lagash defeated the king of Umma. The importance of this war to the military historian lies in a commemorative stele that Eannatum erected to celebrate his victory. This stele is called the "Stele of Vultures" for its portrayal of birds of prey and lions tearing at the flesh of the corpses as they lay on the desert plain. The stele represents the first important pictorial portrayal of war in the Sumerian period and portrays the king of Lagash leading an infantry phalanx of armored, helmeted warriors, armed with spears as they trample their enemies.

It is now clear that Sumerian cultural and political colonisation of the Near East in late prehistory was considerable, extending to Anatolia, Egypt, the Gulf, Syria, the Persian highlands and the Transcaucasus. However, by the start of our period most of the colonies had been abandoned and inter-city warfare was endemic. Some Sumerian armies were alliances of several city-states, hence the ally generals. Archaic proto-cuneiform texts of the late 4th millenium seem to list large bodies of archers under military officers, possibly the first regular army. By 2800 BC, the bulk of a Sumerian army was close order foot with long spears held in both hands. Initially these lacked shields, relying instead on a leather or thick felt cape, studded with copper discs and probably dyed red or green if leather, left buff or off-white if felt. Spearmen equipped thus are above. From about 2500 BC, large body shields were carried by separate shieldbearers armed only with a light axe, leaving the spearmen's hands free. Such shields were in use until the end of the Third Dynasty of Ur, when they were replaced by lighter, more manageable Amorite shields. In the "Vulture Stela" six rows of spearheads project in front of the shieldwall. In battle the spearmen were preceded by skirmishers with bows, slings and javelins. The long dominant northern state of Kish used heavier broader-headed axes. Umma and Apishal used substantial numbers of Martu mercenaries after 2500 BC. Four-wheeled battle cars, drawn by four onager-donkey crosses, came into use around 2800 BC, and were probably intended for shock effect, while the lighter platform-cars and straddle-cars may have been used as command and courier vehicles and for scouting. Recent research indicates that riding was more common in this early period than previously thought, though we assume that draught animals for battle-cars would have priority, with only a limited provision for mounted scouts. Riding techniques were primitive and asses, even expensive sterile onager-donkey crosses, are vastly inferior mounts to horses. Battle-car crews can always dismount. Nomadic levies are temporarily resident and subject semi-nomadic pastoralists from the western steppe fringes, such as the Amorite Martu, or Lullubi, Guti or Hurrian highlanders from the eastern and northeastern Zagros mountains. The "Great Revolt" against Akkad immediately entered into Near Eastern mythology following Naram-Suen's astounding victory after 9 epic battles in a single year…"



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Maxshadow18 Jan 2020 6:13 p.m. PST

Thanks Tango.
There are a number of Sumerian articles on the site and they're all interesting. I am just finishing up painting one Sumerian army and have another half done so find this a boon of information.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2020 8:56 p.m. PST

So happy for that my friend!.(smile)

Hope to see them soon!.


Maxshadow18 Jan 2020 10:08 p.m. PST

I'm waiting to finish the first army and build a Ziggurat before starting my blog on the campaign. :)

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