Horse Troops and Troops of the Bow
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Categories: Ancient

Horse Troops and Troops of the Bow

A dome of baked bricks with arches below
The architecture of holy places in the Middle East has changed a bit since the glory days of the Ebabbar, but how about this photo of a mosque in Isfahan?

A tablet from Sippar with the forgettable names BM 57222 and CT 57, 82 contains the following lines:

“(6) 1/2 mina 8 shekels silver to Šamaš-iddin (7) and the horse troops (8) who returned from the city of Egypt (9) 1 mina 50 shekels silver for mountain garments (10) and širannū for troop[s] (11) of the bow …”

Even though it is damaged, it tells us important things. The Ebabbar, the house of Šamaš at Sippar, was sending troops to Egypt in the fourth year of some king. Since the archive ends suddenly early in the second year of of Xexes, and since Cambyses had not yet conquered Egypt in his fourth year, this is probably the fourth year of Darius. It is usually thought that Darius visited Egypt a few years after his Putsch, although I don’t understand the arguments that his visit was in a specific Gregorian year. But in any case, it shows that conscripts could be sent all the way to Egypt, wearing the same clothing they were issued in other texts which do not specify what they were doing. Conscripts sometimes spent their time in service dredging out canals in Elam or improving roads near Nippur, but sometimes they went much farther.

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