The Armies of the Teispids and Achaemenids

Manning, Sean. 2022. The armies of the Teispids and Achaemenids: The armies of an ancient world empire. Journal of Ancient Civilizations 37(2). 147-192.

An Attic red-figure kylix with a battle of Greeks and barbarians, c. 490–480 BC (possibly the same as Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, number 1980.11.21)

Although ancient warfare and the Teispid-Achaemenid empire are common topics for research, no concise and up-to-date overview of Teispid and Achaemenid armies and warfare exists. The most recent syntheses were published in the period 1986–1992 when the current understanding of the empire was only beginning to form. This article combines indigenous and Greco-Roman texts, art, and artifacts to provide a short introduction to the armies and navies of the so-called Persian Empire. It focuses on the reigns of Darius I and Xerxes (522–465 BC) from which a variety of texts and artwork survive from Persis, Babylonia, and Greece. Ten main sections cover the history of research, the seemingly contradictory evidence for a uniform army and a patchwork army under Darius I and Xerxes, how the very rapid conquests of the Teispids lead to an army very different than the Roman or imperial British armies, recruitment, organization and equipment, combat mechanics, army organization, siege warfare, naval and riverine warfare, and numbers and effectiveness. Whereas the author’s recent monograph focused on methodological problems and the origin of different theories, this article offers usable answers to many difficult questions.