Donkeys in the military art of antiquity

Author(s):  A.K. Nefedkin, Dr., Parabellum novum: Military history magazine, Petersburg, Russia,

Issue:  Volume 46, № 2

Rubric:  Topical issues of world history

Annotation:  The donkey became the first pack and riding animal that appeared in humans. The time and place of domestication of this animal is debatable. In the 3rd millennium BC, the donkey was an usual riding, packed and draft animals. Later, at the beginning of 2nd millennium BC the faster horse replaced the donkey as an animal of the chariot, and in the beginning of 1st millennium BC the horse replaced the donkey as a mount. In the wagon train, a stronger and more resistant mule pressed, though not completely displaced, the donkey. The donkey was less expensive and more unpretentious than the horse; it was used as a mount up to new times. Donkeys were typical pack animals in the train of the Egyptian army in the New Kingdom and in the Hittite army. Assyrians have already used mules as baggage animals. In the eyes of professional military Xenophon, the donkey was a typical animal in the train of the Hellenic army. However, the horse remained a real war animal, because the horse was superior to the donkey by its fighting qualities.

Keywords:  donkeys, warfare, ancient Orient.

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