The Sumer and Akkad are the most ancient civilizations which actually were the ones to create the army institution and first weapons. The need of military institutions and weapon inventions appeared because the Sumerian city-states fought for lands with one another and later with other invaders. The Greeks called this area Mesopotamia which translates as the “land between the two rivers” (Tigris and Euphrates). The cities of Sumer were already developed an urban level of life to 4000 B.C., there should be mentioned cities like: Ur, Nipur, Lagash, Umma, Eridu and Urak.
The two civilizations were among the oldest urban civilizations. They were first to record the battles and create military dictionary. Especially the Sumer civilization had no analogues by application of military weaponry in the Bronze Age. The rest part of the Middle East needed about 2000 years more to advance to the level of Sumer and Akkad.
One of the first evidences from which we can learn about Sumerian weapons is a stele. It is called the Stele of Vultures and was made after the battle held between the states of Lagash and Umma in 2525 B.C. The Stele of Vultures represents the king of Lagash leading an armored infantry. Helmets and spears are basic military inventory. The king himself is handling a socket axe riding a chariot. Eannatum is represented holding a sickle-sword in his hand.
The earliest Sumerian helmets date back to 2500 B.C. They were made of copper and were leaned with leather for comfort. The existence of helmet in military inventory pointed to the fact that a higher level was reached in military achievements. The helmet symbolized protection against the most feared offensive weapon – the mace! During that period the mace was considered the main weapon in the battlefield fights. The helmet protection was so successful that in the long run the mace was drove from the battlefield.
After helmet proved success the Sumerians proceeded to elaborate protection for the rest body. Thus, there were invented a peculiar type of armor – armored cloak. The cloak was leather or resistant fabric confection which was covered with metal disks provided with spines. It was fixed around the neck and covered the most important parts of the body assuring a good protection. Later, Sumerians elaborated plated armor.
An important military innovation of Sumer was the socket axe. The weapon was made of bronze and was the mile stone attribute of Sumerian army which conferred significant military advantage. It appeared in response to the development of plated type of body armor aiming to penetrate it. For this the blade of the axe needed to be large and heavy enough to apply a strong blow. But Sumerians had to face another problem – assure proper linkage between the shaft and the blade itself so that the first withstand heavy strokes.
The solution was the use of the cast bronze socket, which was secured with rivets over the head of the shaft. By 2500 B.C. Sumerian axes were redesigned and adopted to the battle needs. Thus, one of the axe variants was equipped with a narrowing blade in order to reduce the impact area and bring the blade closer to the target and deeper into flesh. This innovation put the basis for generation of penetrating axes. These ones were able to pierce through bronze plate armor.
Another military achievement of the Sumerians was the use of wheel for creation of Chariot. The Sumerian chariot featured a construction with four or two wheels. Initially, it was conceived as a civil vehicle for higher social classes. The chariot couldn’t be offensive because of its small size, light weight, and lack of stability due to unbalanced construction. Later it became a dangerous weapon adopted by other military cultures, like: Hittites, Canaanites, Egyptians, and Assyrians. A chariot could carry at least one driver, two archers, and a spearman. These warriors became the elite of fighting corps and were an irreplaceable part of any ancient world army.
The sickle-sword is also considered to be a weapon invented by Sumerians around 2500 B.C. Its predestination was to serve as the primary infantry weapon.
This one is considered one of the major innovations of Sumerians and Akkadians. It dates back to 2254-2218 B.C. The composite bow had a pull of 2-3 times of the simple bow. It could penetrate leather armor and some of early bronze armors at the distance of 50-100 yards. This innovation was very efficient and determined the use of composite bow during the next fifteen hundred years.
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