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Senior: 11 & 12: Unit 1: Weapons and Warfare (IA3)

Introduction to Ancient Warfare

Conventional military history chooses to define warfare by a mixture of:
  • Western historical periods (‘Ancient’, ‘Medieval’, ‘Modern’),
  • geographical region (‘Eastern’)
  • and description of the style of war (‘total’ or ‘nuclear’) (Montgomery 1968)
A newer breed of military historian (especially Keegan 1993) chooses to use terms applicable universally to define types of warfare:
  • ‘primitive’ for occasional small-scale wars fought by traditional societies “determined by subsistence and demography and … not very costly in lives” (Chailand 1994,  p.7);
  • ‘Oriental’ for wars distinguished by “evasion, delay and indirectness” (Keegan 1993, p.387), often by the application of defensive strategies, and deemed to be the kind of wars fought by the complex cultures of Asia (Chaliand 1994, p.21); and finally
  • ‘Western’ for the fierce wars of annihilation in battle we inflict upon ourselves (cf. Hanson 1989; Keegan 1993).

Book Cover Image

From 'Ancient Warfare' by John Carman and Anthony Harding, The History Press, 2016.

Secondary Resources


1. WAR IN THE BRONZE AGE: chariots, Egyptian military, Megiddo 1457 BC, Qadesh 1274 BC.
2. WAR IN THE IRON AGE: cavalry, siegecraft, Assyrians, Persians.
3. WAR IN THE ARCHAIC AGE OF GREECE 800O-500 BC: Homer, Sparta, Hoplite phalanx, Mantinea 418 BC, Marathon 490 BC.
4. THE GREAT WARS OF CLASSICAL GREECE 499-362 BC: Persian War, 480-479 BC, Thermopylae 480 BC, Naval warfare with triremes and quinqueremes, Salamis 480 BC, Platea 479 BC, Peloponnesian War 431-404, Pylos 425 and light infantry, Cynosemma, Alsydos and Cyzicus 411-410, Leuctra 371.
5. MACEDONIA 359-323 BC: Alexander the Great, Granicus River 334 BC, Issus 333 BC, Gaugamela 331 BC.
6. WAR IN THE HELLENISTIC AGE 323-276 BC: Laraitakene and Gabione 317-316 BC, Ipsus 301 BC.
7. RISE OF ROME 753-264 BC: Romans and war.
8. ROMAN EMPIRE 264-146 BC: Phyrric War 280-275 BC, Carthage and 1st Punic War 264-241, 2nd Punic War 218-202 BC, Hannibal, Cannae 216, Zama 204-202, 3rd Punic War 149-146.
9. FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE 133-31 BC: Roman Revolution 133-131 BC, Rise of Julius Caesar and the First Triumvirate, Caesar in Gaul 58-50 BC, Second Civil War 49-45 BC, Pharsalus 48, Fall of Republic - Gallorum 43 BC, Actium 32-31 BC.
10. ROMAN EMPIRE 31 BC-180 AD: Augustus, Pax Romana 31 BC-180.
11. DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE 180-476: Visigoths, Adrianople 378.

Weapons and Warfare

    Ebook: Chinese Empires (Qin&Han

Choose the excellent Chapter 2: 'A State Organised for War'.

  Ebook: Red Cliffs to Chosin - the Chinese way of war

SUMMARY: Examines Chinese warfare and suggests that three and a half millennia of Chinese military history have produced a distinctive and enduring Chinese Way Of War. While the art and science of war in China have evolved considerably throughout its history, the characteristics and philosophies of its style of warfare contain some propensities that endure from antiquity to the present. They are: (1) The Chinese military orientation focuses more on the strategic and operational levels of war than the tactical. The Chinese prefer strategic maneuver warfare to attritional or other forms of warfare. (2) Chinese warfare emphasizes the importance of shaping operations, the arrangement of the conditions of the war, campaign, or battlefield in one’s favor before initiating combat. (3) Finally, deception and unorthodox warfare play a leading role in Chinese martial philosophy and conduct of war.

  Ebook: The Early Chinese Empires

SUMMARY: In 221 B.C. the First Emperor of Qin unified what would become the heart of a Chinese empire whose major features would endure for two millennia.

   Ebook: The First Emperor, Qin 

SUMMARY: War and carnage have filled the pages of Chinese history and clearly emerged as the required foundation for establishment of almost every major dynasty in Chinese history. There were hundreds of different types of cold weapons in ancient Chinese battlefields, with the most commonly used including bow, crossbow, sword , broad knife, spear, speargun, cudgel, battleaxe, battle spade, halberd, lance, whip, blunt sword, hammer, fork 


Also look for Sima Qian (Han Dynasty)


Ebsco Discovery Research Starter database: Overview of Warfare in Ancient India 

Ancient Warfare Technology: India 
From 'Ancient Warfare Technology : from Javelins to Chariots', by Mary B and Michael Woods (2011)

Mauryan Empire Project: Warfare in the Mauryan Empire

Weapons and Warfare: The Mauryan Empire Military

Khan Academy: The Mauryan And Gupta Empires - Unification and military

Ancient Battles: Ancient Indian Warfare
Scroll down to Mauryan Empire about half way down the page

World History Encyclopedia: Ancient Indian Warfare 

Worcester Polytechnic Institute: India Subcontinent - Evolution of Arms & Armour 

Quora: What weapons & tactics would be typical of an army in India under Chandragupta Maurya? Military equipment & the organisation of the army in Mauryan India 

World History Connected: The War Elephants East and West

World History Encyclopedia: Elephants in Ancient Indian Warfare 

Raksha Anirvida: What Modern India Can Learn From the Mauryan Army 

The time period is noted for the rise of the samurai class, which would eventually take power and start the feudal period of Japan. Nominally, sovereignty lay in the emperor but in fact power was wielded by the Fujiwara nobility. However, to protect their interests in the provinces, the Fujiwara and other noble families required guards, police and soldiers. The warrior class made steady gains throughout the Heian period. The entry of the warrior class into court influence was a result of the Hogen disturbance. 

Musashi in the Modern University: History of the Samurai

Monumenta Nipponica: Teeth and claws - Provincial Warriors and the Heian Court 

Cover Art eBook: Early Roman Warfare to 1st Punic War 



Julius Caesar




Cassius Dio

Livy (Titus Livius)





Conduct a Google search - eg "Julius Caesar writer Roman warfare"

Cover ArtEbook: The Spartan Supremacy 412-371 BC 

At only one period in Sparta's long history, in the late fourth and early third century BC, did the home of these grim warriors seem set to entrench itself as the dominant power in the Greek world. This period includes the latter stages of the Peloponnesian War from 412 BC to the Spartan victory in 402, and then down to the Spartan defeat by the Thebans at Leuctra in 371 BC, where it all began to unravel for the Spartan Empirern

Cover ArtEbook: Sparta - Rise of a Warrior Nation 

Philip Matyszak explores two themes: how Sparta came to be the unique society it was, and the rise of the city from a Peloponnesian village to the military superpower of Greece. But above all, his focus is on the Spartan hoplite, the archetypal Greek warrior who was respected and feared throughout Greece in his own day, and who has since become a legend.

Cover ArtEbook: Sparta - Fall of a Warrior Nation 

Universally admired in 479 BC, the Spartans were masters of the Greek world by 402 BC, only for their state to collapse in the next generation. What went wrong? Was the fall of Sparta inevitable? Philip Matyszak examines the political blunders and failures of leadership which combined with unresolved social issues to bring down the nation - even as its warriors remained invincible on the battlefield.


Alcman and Tyrtaeus







Conduct a Google search - eg 'Herodotus and Sparta'.

Cover Art   eBook: The Persians: Lost Civilizations 

Weapons included Sagaris, Spear (Persian), Bow and Arrow (Persian), Chariot Scythe




Conduct a Google search eg 'Herodotus and Persia'.

Source Analysis and Evaluation Skills


MyBib Referencing Generator

Manage your bibliography using "MyBib" - Referencing - LibGuides at  Melbourne High School

MyBib is an online referencing generator to help you with in text references and your List of References.


  • Sign up for an account so that it will store the references for your assignment. Add it to your bookmark bar to find it quickly.
  • Install the Chrome extension to make your referencing even faster.
  • Make sure everything in your Reference List has a corresponding In-Text citation in the body of your essay.

Library Catalogue - Oliver

The Oliver library catalogue is your go-to spot for searching library resources (books, eBooks, websites, DVDs). 


The ENTIRE collection of resources provided by the BBC Library can now be searched on ONE single, powerful search platform, which retrieves print books, eBooks, database articles and websites. Click HERE for assistance.

Useful Databases

Advanced Web Searching Tips

1. Use 'Ctrl F' (Control + Find) to search for particular terms easily in a long document, whether from a website or a database article.
2.  Use a Boolean command - put double inverted commas around phrases to limit and improve your results eg "energy drinks cardiovascular problems children". 
3. Use a Google domain command eg site:edu OR site:gov to limit results to a CERTAIN DOMAIN such as education or government eg biodiesel site:edu
4. Use a Google command to limit results to the MOST RECENT: After you get your results, choose the Google Menu Bar, and choose 'Tools'. Then on the far left, at the drop-down menu next to 'Any Time', you can choose 'Within the last year' (or less, if you prefer), but generally, you can choose 'Custom Range' at the bottom, as often the last 3-4 years would be sufficient for a recent search.