AMME Seminar on 'Forays into Ancient Warfare' (31.10.22)

Please note that the next Ancient and Medieval Middle East (AMME) seminar will be organised as a hybrid event on an unusual date: Monday 31 October (16:15-18:00 EET/Helsinki/UTC+2h).

The seminar will consist of two papers – presented by Fabrice de Backer and Hugh Kennedy – and a shared question round and discussion on the session specific theme of ‘forays into ancient warfare’. The topics of the talks are:

‘The Defence of the Acqueducts during the Neo-Assyrian Period’ (Dr. Fabrice de Backer)

While Nineveh has been the topic of several studies, the riverine fortifications that defended it during the 7th century BCE are poorly investigated. The author will submit a working hypothesis on the identification of those infrastructures set by the builders of the city to protect the population hidden inside it. Hopefully, these lines will restart the discussion and ignite new studies on this fascinating subject

‘The Cavalry Revolution in Early Islamic Warfare’ (Prof. Dr. Hugh Kennedy)

This paper examines fighting techniques used by Muslim armies in the early Islamic period (600-1000 CE). The argument is that the armies of the early Muslim conquest mostly fought on foot. Horses and camels were used to transport soldiers to the battlefield but in close confrontation with the enemy, they dismounted. Armies were large (perhaps 20,000 men).

In the eighth and early ninth two there were two innovations. The first was the introduction of stirrups which can be dated with some certainty to c. 700. The second was the introduction of mounted archery as a key military technique, in the first decades of the ninth century. This seems to be closely connected with the recruitment of Turkish nomads in the caliphal armies.

These two events radically changed the face of battle, but they also had wider societal implications. Armies became more professional and elite troops were recruited from specific groups. This led to the separation between the military and the civilian population which is characteristic of medieval Islamic society.

All are welcome, so please join us in person or online!

Time: Monday (!) 31 October at 16:15-18:00 EET (UTC+2h).

Live venue: Faculty hall (Faculty of Theology, Fabianinkatu 24, 5th floor). Virtual venue: Zoom (Meeting ID: 678 8979 2118 /

Wonder what else is on the menu? Check out the fall program at: /en/news/language-culture/amme-program-fall-2022.