Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Mesopotamia Image Dump 8: Battle Donkey Wagons of the Space Gods

Sumerian Imdugug (Anzu in Arcadian), a great bird that also is seen grasping lightning. On gates, tablets, stelae etc. Some interesting bird characters that older scholars confused lots. Ostriches were demon birds or walking birsd and there are lots of images of a hero battling a demon bird and grabbing ts neck heroically with a sword in other hand (i wouldn't try this). They ran out demon birds by later eras. Imduggug/Anzu the demon bird who stole the tablet of destiny and could uncreated things and knew trunames of everything. In other times he looks like the Dire corby in fiend folio a sort of bird man, in Sumeria he is the Imdugug bird a lion headed eagle that caries lightning and battles Ninurta (or Ningirsu or whatever your city called him but he is also Saturn) and has 50 magic weapon greedy sod - all described with powers in tablets - the first random magic item table blog. He is associated with this beast he defeated - it was the coat of arms for him and city of Lagash

A theme of my Mesopotamian game is spread of urbanization and desertificaton. These complexes and cities were complex machines that helped shape society. I could run a game from bronze age Crete to Hittites to Egypt to Akkad to Indus to China happily. Sorta like Gore Vidal's novel Creation but with more fighting monsters and much earlier 2200BC or something. Planning Irrigation and calculating and recording temple tithes and having good leaders in a crisis helped civilization suceed. Building walls and cities is one of their great arts with hundreds of large cities, built on mounds of their own even more distant past. Archeology text books and atlases = dungeon plans. I used ruins of previous epochs appear on haunted nights for temporary dungeons. Perhaps a tip of a ziggerutt is exposed by the wind. I had players hear of a brick mine worker get hurt. Brick mine you ask - yes you could dig up bricks from a city a thousand years earlier. Kings kept museums, shrines kept fossils and ancient cult items. Greek island temple had a bronze from several thousand years earlier from Mesopotamian cult.

Sumerian military into studded capes, helmets, sheild-spear phalanxes and slngs and
javelins. Ox carts and Donkey Wagons not true chariots. Still like a SUV, makes leader
stand out and gives him a privileged view and a chance to escape. Chariots great to chase
irregular and broken ranks and retreating shattered units. Scholars debate if onagers
(wild ass) or donkeys but were working in ancient Sumer to pull wagons circa 2600 BC,
and then chariots on the Standard of Ur, circa 2000 BC.

Sickle swords dominant infantry weapon. An assyrian king had a meteoric steel inscribed
one. Pre 2500 Axe is for cutting post 2500 axe is a penetrating axe as helmets and bronze
plate armour improves. Wall building made cities almost untouchable for millenia. Uruk
had miles of walls.

About 2300 BC, Sargon of Akkad attacked and conquered 34 Sumerian cities,
beginning the Akkadian Empire. Akkadians sometimes considered the first empire
builders who established theirs as international trade and measurements and calenders
for over a thousand years. We still use 360 degrees and basic calender. Mass composite
bow archery was their gift to the world. Donkey wagons get better by late bronze age
horses in use, better material and they were the tanks of their day employing hundreds
to build and maintain.

While the simple bow could kill at ranges from 50-100 yards, it would not penetrate
even simple armor at these ranges. The composite bow, with a pull of 2-3 times that
of the simple bow, would easily have penetrated leather armor, and perhaps even the
early prototypes of bronze armor that were emerging at this time. Even in the hands
of untrained conscript archers, the composite bow could bring the enemy under a hail
of arrows from twice the distance as the simple bow. So important was this new weapon
that it became a basic implement of war in all armies of the region for the next fifteen
hundred years.

The armies of Sumer and Akkad represented the pinnacle of military development in
the Bronze Age. No army of the same period could match the Sumerians in military
effectiveness and weaponry. The Sumerian civilization produced no fewer than six
major new weapons and defensive systems, all of which set the standard for other
armies of the Bronze Age and Iron Ages. Few armies in history have been so

The armies of Egypt, on the other hand, although already a thousand years old by the
time of Sargon, were technologically inferior to the Sumerians and would remain so
until, in a remarkable example of technological transfer, the Egyptians themselves
obtained the weapons of the Sumerians and used them to forge the world's next great
military empire.

The Assyrians were Semitic speakers who occupied Babylon for a brief period in the
thirteenth century B.C. Invasions of iron-producing peoples into the Near East and into
the Aegean region in approximately 1200 B.C. disrupted the indigenous empires of
Mesopotamia, but eventually the Assyrians were able to capitalize on the new
alignments of power in the region. Because of what has been called "the barbarous
and unspeakable cruelty of the Assyrians," the names of such Assyrian kings as
Ashurnasirpal (883-859 B.C.), Tiglath-Pileser III (745- 727 B.C.), Sennacherib
(704-681 B.C.), and Ashurbanipal (669-626 B.C.) continue to evoke images of
powerful, militarily brilliant, but brutally savage conquerors.

Assyrians much later used war dogs for terror too - huge freaking mastiffs on chains
trained to be bad and terrorize people). Fully Iron age and inventors of siege engines
that smashed age old cities. Very engineering oriented like Romans. Build road up to
your door and pour troops from across the empire. Chariots lose their edge as cavalry
and horse nomads get better, like Medes and Scythians and chaldeans.

Among the more important military developments of the Iron Age were changes in (1)
the size of armies, (2) logistics and transport, (3) strategic and tactical mobility, (4)
siegecraft and artillery, (5) staff organization, and (6) military training. In almost every
one of these military capabilities the armies of the Iron Age reached a level of
development that was not surpassed until the Age of Napoleon. In still others, it required
the invention of mechanical weapons and powerful machines of the present age to surpass
the level of operational ability demonstrated by the ancients.

Kings and things - sounds great and all to be king but later era had more say.
Early days would get daily tabu from holy staff like dont wear blue. All kinds of
omen readers, sooth sayers, exorcists, astrologers, healers on standby. When not
killing lions for ritual necessity and fun, they have weighty decisions and fantastic
pleasures beyond common folks dreams. When kings die it can cause chaos even
years of civil war if sons fight. Many may have rivals killed in intrigues.

To rule over such a large area, Hammurabi devised an elaborate administrative
structure. His greatest achievement, however, was the issuance of a law code
designed "to cause justice to prevail in the country, to destroy the wicked and
the evil, that the strong may not oppress the weak. The function of a king was to
protect the weak from the strong according to one ideal of justice.

A king in his chariot with parasol (every rich adventurer needs one) and a priestess
pouring out libations. I have priests using libations of holy water, wine, blood and
other stuff.
A rod is a basic measure and symbol of law and authority. It is a symbol of force and
middle managers. A lawmaker might have a truncheon, a fancy manager might get a
more ceremonial scepter. A mace even counts. Can be used not to kill or to kill.
Swords are final, they are for beheading criminals and enemy troops captured so the
heads can be stacked in criminals. The lucky ones get to work in mines and worst slave
jobs. 2500 ceremonial priestly role of kings was in decline as kings more directly control
state administration and military.

This one is supposed to be Eridu but found lots of wildly mis named things and kings. Religious persons wanting pictures so they just mis name another one. UFO loonies too.


This is some kinda pokey game or something but is quite nice as using decorative themes. Fountain a bit more fanciful but more accurate than most pre 19c ever could be.

Nice palace scene in colour and B&W


More city building splendour. These have fantastically tall buildings and a bit stylized but very nice. Run down buildings good for haunted places, stuff like this good for when characters are taken to the celestial city in the sky, where bureaucrat godlings administer the cosmos. Chinese had stuff like this idea too.

Ur treasure for the man with the golden goatI think this is Indus but a similar urban society n some ways. Good street scene for a seedy neighborhood.

Happy looting! Just remember there have been families on off involved in grave robbing or commercial amatuer "archeology" or guerilla antiquing in near east for at least 5000 years.

So remember no chariots for space gods anymore

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic images! And a good and brief explanation of the military advances of Mesopotamian cultures.