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Author Topic: Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?  (Read 1759 times)

Offline Wellington

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Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?
« on: May 23, 2023, 08:54:41 PM »
Starting finally with my Persian army and learning that some of my books are missing I'm a little bit clueless about the shields.

In the late Archaemenid packs from Foundry are sparabara and figure-of-eight shields included

https://www.wargamesfoundry.com/collections/persians-older-range/products/per005-later-immortals-2

Are these shield forms still used in the late army? Or should I go for round shields? It seems most other miniature ranges use round shields.

Master Jeff Jonas your opinion?
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Offline Tim Haslam

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Re: Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2023, 10:20:23 PM »
Agreed Jeff is your man!

For what it’s worth, I’d say use either figure of eight shields or Hoplite types.
It depends on the regiment, I think?
I suspect Immortals may still use the traditional shields.
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Online Pattus Magnus

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Re: Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2023, 10:48:41 PM »
My take on the changes in Persian shield use is that it was linked with who the Persians viewed as their main threat.

Prior to Xerxes’ invasion of mainland Greece the Persians mainly fought armies that had a large proportion of archers (on foot, such as Assyrians/Babylonians, or on horseback, such as Skythians and central Asian nomads). Against those opponents the large Spara shields give an advantage.

Then they ran into Greek hoplites deployed in large numbers and the Sparas weren’t much use. So, the Persians spent a while struggling to find a new doctrine and equipment that could answer the Greek threat, and found hiring Greeks was tactically effective but strategically questionable. The next step was to arm at least some of their troops in a similar way to Greeks, and the round hoplite style shields become widespread - especially in the western regions. Elsewhere, facing archer-heavy forces, the Persians may not have abandoned the Spara, but that doesn’t show up in the Greek sources that historians tend to rely on.

Sadly (for the Persians) by the time Persians were fielding hoplite-style heavy infantry of their own, Philip and Alexander had overturned the dominance in Greek warfare of the hoplite. And the Persians ended up using outmoded heavy infantry against “Greeks” when the Macedonians invaded.

So, for the late Persians I would go with circular shields for units from the western parts of the empire, and maybe use some Sparas in levy units or in later battles to represent units redeployed from the eastern satrapies where archers were still the main opponents.

Offline jcspqr

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Re: Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2023, 10:51:07 PM »
I would think no.  The sparabara infantry was replaced largely by Kardakes by the later period.  These would have a hoplon-esque round shield.

There might still be some auxiliaries running around with the earlier shield types, but they would not be in the preponderance. 

Foundry used to have some of the kardakes with round shields in their casting room later persian range, but most of that range has be lost, or just forgotten as they haven't updated their casting room Persian listings in over a decade (which is too bad as they were quite nice).  I think  I may have given my Foundry Kardakes to Jeff!  Maybe.

Offline AdamPHayes

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Re: Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2023, 10:56:37 PM »
Looking at Persians shown on Greek vases, where they have shields at all there seem to be a majority of peltae.

Offline Easy E

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Re: Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2023, 02:02:29 PM »
Yeah, late Persians probably no longer used the Sparabara. 

However, their "main enemy" were probably Central Asians (Sogdians, Scythians, etc) more than Greeks. 

Greeks were too easy to pit against each other and buy-off! Until they weren't!   lol
« Last Edit: May 25, 2023, 05:11:54 PM by Easy E »
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Offline Panzer21

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Re: Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2023, 06:59:11 PM »
Depends what you mean by "late"  :D
Monuments and paintings from the Alexandrian period and later show the crescent shield or round shield up to hoplon size.
Xenophon at Cunaxa c400 BC reports infantry with "wicker shields" which have been interpreted as traditional sparabara.
Duncan Head is of the view that the sparabara were phased out and replaced by Kardakes and Takabara as shown on the few physical depictions with crescent or round shields.
Neil

Offline Psychlic Bob

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Re: Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2023, 09:02:11 PM »
Depends what you mean by "late"  :D
Monuments and paintings from the Alexandrian period and later show the crescent shield or round shield up to hoplon size.
Xenophon at Cunaxa c400 BC reports infantry with "wicker shields" which have been interpreted as traditional sparabara.
Duncan Head is of the view that the sparabara were phased out and replaced by Kardakes and Takabara as shown on the few physical depictions with crescent or round shields.
Neil

There is also a debate about what the Kardakes were. It may have been an economic/social definition not a troop-type. In the invasion of Egypt there are some thousands of Kardakes slingers

Offline Easy E

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Re: Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2023, 10:44:58 PM »
Kardake as a social class makes sense, as the Sparabara was also a "social class" as well. IIRC.

Offline Panzer21

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Re: Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2023, 12:04:22 AM »
Kardake as a social class makes sense, as the Sparabara was also a "social class" as well. IIRC.

I'm not sure they were as such; I think the literal translation is "spara" bearers, just as takabara = "taka" bearer being a greek transliteration of the Persian. The spara has been identified as the large wicker shield barrier / pavaisse and the taka as the crescent shaped pelta style shield.
The figure 8 shield is the "gerron" or "gheron" IIRC seen in Persian art esp at Persopolis.

The Greeks seem to have described various troops by the shield carried.

The Kardakes or Cardaces appear in Xenophon's Life of Cyrus where he attributes all sorts of anachronistic inventions to the Great King; they are described as a sort of Persian youth movement formed from the sons of noble families who are trained in martial skills.
They later appear at the battle of Issus against Alexander.
Duncan Head has theorised they acted as both pseudo- hoplites and peltasts and may have had training in various weapons. Another such "Kardaces" appear in the Seleucid army at Raphia.
There is also the possibility it referred to the ethnic group, what would now be Kurds.
Neil

Offline Khusru2

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Re: Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2023, 01:43:15 PM »
It has been questionable as long as I've been a wargamer, since '79. The Persians fought the Lydians who wore hoplite types armour and argive shields. And the Ionian Greeks, the same.
It is generally accepted that after the battle of Plataea the gherron and sparabara were replaced in the west by hoplon type shields. Whichever you use it will avail you little as I've found it almost impossible to win with the late Achaemenids!
It is a shame that any wars fought against any Indian kingdoms are none existent.

Offline SJWi

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Re: Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2023, 06:35:00 PM »
Khusru, I share your pain. My Foundry Late Achaemenid army has yet to win a game despite trying against later Hoplite Greek, Thracians and Scythians. I doubt they could even win a civil war! Maybe they know that I bought them half-price and have low self-esteem!     

Offline Wellington

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Re: Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2023, 10:33:21 AM »
I doubt they could even win a civil war! Maybe they know that I bought them half-price and have low self-esteem!   

 lol

yes I'm aware of this problem, but I'm drawn to such armies. Anybody of you remembering the desasterous HYW camgagne at one of these Warhammer Historical Weekends, a desaster for the english. My general Talbot shot by an cannonball was the only near historical event at this Weekend.

Ithink persian army list, even Sassanid, are still suffering from an anti-persian bias in our mediterranen sources.

Thank for all the answer! I have to work through it during the Weekend.

Offline Khusru2

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Re: Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2023, 01:48:32 AM »
My Sassanids are good.
But, even with a solid wall of troops from edge to edge they seem meek. Too many light troops, even if you hide some behind the Cardaces and hoplites. Hordes of terrified light horse who have difficulty beating drunk Classical Indian medium cavalry whom they outnumber 3 to 1! Hordes of light medium/auxiliary infantry who would rather be home by the fire. No dogs if war in this army! My Sassanid levy do better!

Offline Easy E

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Re: Shields for Late Archaemenid Persians?
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2023, 03:47:37 PM »
I think some of the "weakness" of late Persian armies is due to the different styles of fighting.  What makes an army powerful in the Near East is not what makes an army powerful in the Med basin.  There is a much greater focus on speed, maneuver and firepower in the Near East while in the Med Basin it was about shock combat. 

When armies from these two different traditions meet..... well historically they were uneven battles.  For Alexander at Gaugamela, we also have Crassus at Carrhae.  We see various armies struggling when they try to move between the Near East and the Med Basin, whether it is West to East or East to West.   

It is hard to model this on the tabletop as our Med Basin sources tend to lionize the shock combat of heavy infantry, and from the other perspective our sources are often archeology and oral traditions rather than documents.  We simply "know" more about the Western style and our glimpses at the other style of warfare come from our Western sources too.

Finally, it is challenging to balance these two different fighting styles in the same rules as one is not like the other.  What could make you successful and "historical" in one style, will be not powered correctly for the other style.  It is a difficult balance and bridge the two, and some games CHOOSE to emphasize one style over the other.  Others accidentally do so. 

Thanks for joining my TEDTalk today!   lol     

 

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