The 7 issues of Ancient Warfare everyone should have

If you have subscribed to Ancient Warfare, you should have received issue VIII.1 by now or should receive it soon. If you haven’t subscribed yet, then what are you waiting for? Head over to the webshop and pick the subscription of your choice.

If you are relatively new to the magazine, you probably won’t have all of the back issues yet. In this economy, I can’t blame you if you don’t immediately return to the webshop and buy all of the issues that you are still missing. But suppose you have a little money to spend on some back issues of the magazine, which ones out of the more than seven volumes that have appeared so far should you go for?

What follows is a list of seven issues that I think would be worthwhile to pick up for anyone interested in ancient military history. The order, despite the numbering, is more or less random. Taken together, these issues probably give a good idea of the scope of warfare in the ancient world, as well as demonstrate what Ancient Warfare is all about. Let’s get cracking!

7. Issue III.3: Classical heroes

A fun introduction to Ancient Warfare is issue III.3. The theme for this issue was the concept of the hero, especially as more or less exemplified by the heroes from Homeric epic. The historical introduction, as always, sets the stage for the remainder of the theme-related articles in this issue, and I had the honour of writing the “source” article on Homer’s Iliad. There is a good treatment of Homeric fighting style, the relationship between Homer and Philip II and Alexander, a brief article on the Shield of Achilles, a more lengthy treatment on the Seven against Thebes, an article on beserkers and “wolf warriors”, and heroes of the Roman army.

6. Issue VI.3: Cavalry in the ancient world

Each volume of Ancient Warfare typically includes one issue that deals with a particular aspect of ancient warfare rather than a specific war, battle or person.Issue VI.3 is a perfect of example with its focus on cavalry. This issue’s “source” article deals with Xenophon’s texts on ancient horsemanship. Other articles discuss Celtic cavalry, Greek thureophoroi, the Ostrogoths, Classical Greek cavalry, and so-called “parade” helmets. Non-theme articles discuss the Battle of Alalia and the experience of battle.

5. Issue V.3: Rome and the Sassanid Empire

Many issues have appeared that focus on ancient Rome, but issue V.3 seems to me to offer a little of something to everyone. It has a detailed introduction that sets the stage for the rest of the issue, a “source” discussion on an archaeological site (Dura Europos), a treatment of Sassanid society and its military forces, a Sassanid reenactor, discussion of Shapur II, an article on the Battle of Callinicum (AD 531), a discussion on cataphracts and siegecraft, and a small article on the Roman shield-wall. It also features a non-theme article on Demetrius, the besieger of Rhodes, and a debate article on Archimedes’ supposedly secret weapons. If you like this issue, you will like all of Ancient Warfare.

4. Issue IV.6: Hellenistic kingdoms at war

When it comes to later Greek warfare, many people fixate on Alexander the Great. We have published a number of articles dealing with Alexander, but haven’t (yet) devoted an entire theme to him. Instead, our emphasis has been largely on themes set in the Hellenistic world that was created after the Macedonian conqueror died in Babylon in 323 BC. Issue IV.6 is a great introduction to warfare in the Hellenistic age, featuring articles on military dress, Greek armies in Bactria and India, the Battle of Raphia (217 BC), and more. It also features an interesting “debate” article on women in Roman forts.

3. Issue VII.1: Warriors of the Nile

I have been editor of Ancient Warfare since issue VI.5 and am currently in the process of polishing off issue VIII.2. It’s difficult to pick a favourite from among the issues that I have done so far, but I were to pick one it would be issue VII.1. It deals with Middle and New Kingdom Egypt and features articles on the Hyksos, the Battle of Kadesh, the arms and armour of Tutankhamun, and more.Ancient Warfare usually focuses mostly on the Classical age (ca. 500 BC to AD 500) and Greece and Rome in particular, so it was great fun to focus on the Bronze Age and Egypt instead. Also has a remarkable non-theme article on a clash between Greek and Chinese troops at Alexandria Eschate. (This issue is also part of the Biblical world collection.)

2. Special issue 2011: The Battle of Marathon

The 2011 Ancient Warfare special, like the 2009 special, focused on a battle, namely the Battle of Marathon (490 BC). This was the battle in which Athens defeated the Persian army, effectively ending the punitative expedition of Darius the Great. It features articles on the battlefield itself, the sources for the battle (mainly Herodotus), the Ionian Revolts, the Persian army, and more. This special issue is one of the best modern treatments of the Battle of Marathon and a great introduction to ancient military history and the magazine. (By the way, this issue is also part of the ancient Greek warfare collection.)

1. Issue I.1: Agricola’s campaigns

What better way to get hooked on Ancient Warfare than to start at the very beginning? Issue I.1 deals with the campaigns of Agricola. It is interesting to see how the magazine has developed since this first issue over the course of time. Not only has the magazine increased in size (60 pages now instead of 52), but some of the contents has also been moved around, and certain types of articles have since been phased out. Some things have stayed the same, though, such as the overall structure (general introduction, a “source” article, various articles related to the theme in addition to non-theme articles).

If you have read a lot of issues of Ancient Warfare magazine, feel free to list your recommendations in a comment, below!

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