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Thread: Arabian Peninsula Weapons/Armor/Etc.

  1. #1
    master of the wierd people Member Ibrahim's Avatar
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    Default Arabian Peninsula Weapons/Armor/Etc.

    out of curiosity, is anyone in the EB team an expert on ancient arab warfare? if so, do they know about Arab warfare for the period 300-600AD. I'd like to mainly confirm these points:
    1-arab swords were straight
    2-armor was mail, padded cloth or leather or none. the scale and silk is innacurate.
    I want to know about the validity of these statements (most of which are from arab accounts/what I found on internet and books), and any extra information is welcome (shield patterns, tacics, etc)-most importantly, were they as devastating as Saba' (archer spear-wise)?
    and thanks in advance

    @cmaq: I know you knw about the post in IBFD, I want to further confirm these facts (
    Last edited by Ibrahim; 04-07-2008 at 04:06.
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  2. #2
    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: arabs

    Quote Originally Posted by Ibrahim
    1-arab swords were straight
    Of course they were. Curved sabres weren't even invented before whatwasitnow, 7th century or so, under Avar auspices in the Pontic steppe. The old Arabic word for a sabre even was, roughly, "Turkish sword", which also conveniently tells who exactly popularised that type of blade to the Middle East region and when.
    "Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. --- Proof of the existence of the FSM, if needed, can be found in the recent uptick of global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Apparently His Pastaness is to be worshipped in full pirate regalia. The decline in worldwide pirate population over the past 200 years directly corresponds with the increase in global temperature. Here is a graph to illustrate the point."

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    Member Member brymht's Avatar
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    Default Re: arabs

    Arab war tactics were a constant evolution from what I've read. The closer you get to Muhammed, the more records we have about them, due to their increasing relevance.

    In pre Muhammed times, there were 2 Arab puppet states in the Middle East; one propped up by the Byzantines, the other by the Sassanids. I even wrote a mod for BI with an extended map to be able to play as one, but I never finished it.

    Their tactics were more Roman than Arab, though; and often would fight as a wing of the Byzantine or Sassanid armies. Often these were levied light infantry, with some small amount of armor. Mainly there to lengthen the line so the more highly paid professional mercenaries to create breaches to exploit.

    Out on the arabian penninsula, it was really all about class. The Urban areas (Yemen) had a lot more infantry and armor because they could afford it; In the tribal areas, much of warfare was based on hit and run cavalry raids.

    To say there was ONE 'Arab Style of Warfare' is a bit misleading. Perhaps during the conquests of Muhammed and just post Muhammed, this may have been the case. However, as they conquered more civilized lands, they became more well armed and armoredand learned from the people they converted as they went.


    Indeed, tactics verses the Sassanid elephants and the Byzantines showed a great amount of resiliency and ability to adapt.

  4. #4
    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: arabs

    ...although, as horses were kind of limited in number especially down south the peninsula, they were kinda heavy on infantry fighting. Well, the shieldwall approach is pretty universally workable.

    I understand infantry archery was also very important.
    "Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. --- Proof of the existence of the FSM, if needed, can be found in the recent uptick of global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Apparently His Pastaness is to be worshipped in full pirate regalia. The decline in worldwide pirate population over the past 200 years directly corresponds with the increase in global temperature. Here is a graph to illustrate the point."

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    Member Member brymht's Avatar
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    Default Re: arabs

    I had thought that was only really the norm between the Arab city-states along the Red Sea and modern Yemen? I could be wrong. Will check sources.

  6. #6
    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: arabs

    Well, the northern guys were of course more readily influenced by their Roman and Sassanian neighbours. But it's not like horses are animals native to or well adapted for hot arid climates, nevermind now desert and semi-desert ecologies (which those parts have no shortage of), so there was a bit of what you might call a structural limiter on the importance cavalry could have.
    "Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. --- Proof of the existence of the FSM, if needed, can be found in the recent uptick of global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Apparently His Pastaness is to be worshipped in full pirate regalia. The decline in worldwide pirate population over the past 200 years directly corresponds with the increase in global temperature. Here is a graph to illustrate the point."

    -Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

  7. #7
    Member Member brymht's Avatar
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    Default Re: arabs

    I've heard many climate theories that, along with much of the northern Sahara, the Arabian Penninsula had quite a bit more grassland 2000 - 1500 years ago, which could therefore support greater levels of cavalry.

    Also, many of the tribes of the penninsula subsisted as shepherds. If the environment was able to support sheep, would it not be able to support a certain amount of horses?

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    Member Member MeinPanzer's Avatar
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    Default Re: arabs

    Quote Originally Posted by Watchman
    Of course they were. Curved sabres weren't even invented before whatwasitnow, 7th century or so, under Avar auspices in the Pontic steppe. The old Arabic word for a sabre even was, roughly, "Turkish sword", which also conveniently tells who exactly popularised that type of blade to the Middle East region and when.
    Some Arabian peoples did use curved swords, but they were curved differently than later sabres, of course.

  9. #9
    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: arabs

    Quote Originally Posted by brymht
    I've heard many climate theories that, along with much of the northern Sahara, the Arabian Penninsula had quite a bit more grassland 2000 - 1500 years ago, which could therefore support greater levels of cavalry.

    Also, many of the tribes of the penninsula subsisted as shepherds. If the environment was able to support sheep, would it not be able to support a certain amount of horses?
    Sheep aren't horses. Duhh. The two grazers have a bit different subsistence patterns and ecological preferences. Although, as it happens, they eat a lot of the same stuff and the sheep are economically rather more important, making allocation of limited available pastures for horse-raising that much more economically demanding and said animals then that much more expensive and rarer...

    It's not like they didn't have cavalry, it just wasn't too numerous or, as a result, tactically central.

    The Eurasian steppe had the horse, an animal primarily of temperate or cool grasslands, already quite without any human interference. The "hot deserts" of Araby and thereabouts had the dromedary, an animal very thoroughly indeed adapted for desert ecology, but, as it happens, not much in the way of horses...
    Do the math.

    Quote Originally Posted by MeinPanzer
    Some Arabian peoples did use curved swords, but they were curved differently than later sabres, of course.
    Well, as we know already from the kopis, machaira and falcata it's not like curved blades and cutting edges were unknown. Making a straight blade that flares to possess a curved cutting edge is AFAIK fairly easy, even - Medieval falchions were AFAIK cheaper than the usual two-edged long swords - but by what I've read of it the Arabs by an large preferred to stick to the tried, true and quite serviceable straight types. Although they added the "bent" "proto-sabre" hilt the Sassanids came up with to many of the later types AFAIK.

    But I was assuming the OP was asking specifically about sabre/scimitar type convex-curved swords, which the commonplace erroneously tends to regard as a somehow universally "eastern" rather than "steppe nomad" thing.
    "Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. --- Proof of the existence of the FSM, if needed, can be found in the recent uptick of global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Apparently His Pastaness is to be worshipped in full pirate regalia. The decline in worldwide pirate population over the past 200 years directly corresponds with the increase in global temperature. Here is a graph to illustrate the point."

    -Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

  10. #10
    Member Member MeinPanzer's Avatar
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    Default Re: arabs

    Quote Originally Posted by Watchman
    Well, as we know already from the kopis, machaira and falcata it's not like curved blades and cutting edges were unknown. Making a straight blade that flares to possess a curved cutting edge is AFAIK fairly easy, even - Medieval falchions were AFAIK cheaper than the usual two-edged long swords - but by what I've read of it the Arabs by an large preferred to stick to the tried, true and quite serviceable straight types. Although they added the "bent" "proto-sabre" hilt the Sassanids came up with to many of the later types AFAIK.
    The actual examples from the centuries BC and early centuries AD (which are not numerous) all seem to be of the general straight type, but the majority of iconographic sources from this time period illustrate curved and other irregular types of swords, so the actual relationship between the two is a mystery.

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