The main theme of this issue of Ancient History magazine is the Assyrian Empire, one of the great powers of the Ancient Near East, and a civilisation that lasted for 1,400 years before its dramatic fall. The main focus here is on the Neo-Assyrian Empire of c.911-609 BC, the period in which the Assyrians were at their most aggressive and effective, with early siege weapons added to their arsenal .
The article on shield bearers and archer pairs is interesting both for its subject matter and as a demonstration of how difficult it can be to study this early period. We are dependent on the art contained within Assyrian palaces for just about all of our evidence of the exact way in which the Assyrians fought, and that evidence is fragmentary and sometimes rather contradictory, as well as being limited by the artistic conventions of each period (the wider outline of events is increasingly well documented as more cuneiform documents are translated). Late in the period the written Asyrrian record is joined by Biblical accounts of events, especially for the siege of Lachish of 701 BC and the problematic siege of Jerusalem that followed. Here we have a rare chance for this early period to compare sources from both sides of a conflict. Overall we have an interesting selection of articles on the Assyrians that give a good idea of the scale of the subject.
Away from the main theme there is a look at a silver helmet, once believed to be Roman but now known to be a 19th or 20th century fake, an attempt to verify some of Herodotus's account of the battle of Marathon using experimental archaeology and reconstruction and a look at the possible military reforms of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
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The Source: Settling a boundary dispute
Shield-Bearer and Archer Pairs: Assyrian Infantry Tactics
Breaking the Defences: Assyrian Siege Machinery
Like a Bird in a Cage: Propaganda and the siege of Jerusalem
Taming the Judean Rebels: The siege of Lachish, 701 BC
Empire Forged of Blood: Battle tactics of the Neo-Assyrian Army
The Find: The Ring of Truth
Testing Herodotus: Using re-creation to understand the Battle of Marathon
The Debate: Did Diocletian reform the Roman army?
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