Ancient/Classical History/Horses in battle


This is maybe not your field but I was wondering. My understanding of horses being widely introduced to the world was during the second millennium BC. But in the legend of Gilgamesh, he refuses advances from Ishtar, and describes how she treated the mighty steed of battle. We're horses in use in Sumerian at that time or was he talking about some other animal?


as far as we know, horses in warfare were in use in Sumerian in the Bronze Age when there were two primary uses for horses:the first was simply as a status symbol, the second and more practical use for a horse was as part of a chariot team, just as we see in the Epic of Gilgamesh which dates back to the early Bronze Age(ca. 2600 BC).

In the Tablet VI of the Epic of Gilgamesh we read, in fact, that  Ishtar says  to Gilgamesh:”your steed at the chariot will be bristling to gallop”  where the word “steed” stands for “horse”, of course.

Moreover further down on the same Tablet VI Gilgamesh says to Ishtar:”You loved the stallion, famed in battle,yet you ordained for him the whip, the goad, and the lash,ordained for him to gallop for seven and seven hours, ordained for him drinking from muddled waters" where the stallion is a horse, of course.

So, it is clear that  horses were in use at that time in Mesopotamia, as showed by the Solar Disk with Chariot and Horse, one of the most famous Bronze Age artifacts you can see at:

Later, the Iron Age in Mesopotamia saw the rise of mounted cavalry as a tool of war, as evidenced by the notable successes of mounted archer tactics, as we see  from then on.

Hope this can be helpful to you.
Best regards,

Ancient/Classical History

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My field of expertise is Ancient Greek and Roman History.


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I received my Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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