First Blood: What were the first wars in history?

Premier sang : Quelles étaient les premières guerres de l'Histoire ? - Phil Team

WAR IS AS OLD AS CIVILIZATION ITSELF . In fact, experts believe that the first armed conflicts were fought more than 10,000 years ago by prehistoric city-states in present-day Syria, Jordan and Iraq. These early disputes were likely over resources, property or land.

Yet since such events predate the advent of writing by some 7,000 years, we know little about these early battles, except what archaeologists have been able to glean from the smallest fragments of information. That said, here's what we know.


Natufian ruins in Jericho. Ancient prehistoric peoples built the earliest known fortifications in history.

First defenses

The earliest evidence of prehistoric warfare comes to us from ancient Jericho.

Considered the first true "city" in history, the settlement was established around 9000 BCE by the Natufians near the present-day West Bank. In fact, its very existence suggests that early human societies were organized for defence.

Comprised of around 70 igloo-like mud-brick dwellings that housed a total of up to 1,000 people, the town itself was surrounded by a 15-foot-high stone wall nearly four feet across. thickness at its base. While some believe this barrier could have been erected to protect the community from looters, others believe it was used to protect the city from flooding.

Despite the purpose of these fortifications, Jericho was eventually abandoned following what archaeologists believe was an invasion of some sort, presumably by an army of nomads or perhaps warriors from another city somewhere beyond the horizon. .


The first relics of war in history? These examples of firing were found during an excavation of the first known battle in history - a confrontation between Uruks and the defenders of the city of Hamoukar from the 4th millennium BCE.

First known battle

The earliest physical evidence of an actual battle comes several thousand years later from ancient town of Hamoukar. Between 4000 BCE and 3500 BCE, the region surrounding the fledgling city-state, which was located in what is now northeastern Syria, was invaded and settled by the expanding kingdom of the Uruks from southern Mesopotamia.

Historians believe the Uruks migrated north along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers from what is now Iraq into Syria as part of a campaign of expansion and colonization. It is possible that the inhabitants of Hamoukar bristled at the idea of ​​becoming vassals of these strange foreigners and took up arms to defend themselves. Evidence suggests that a battle ensued.

A 2005 dig by University of Chicago archaeologists uncovered remnants of Hamoukar city walls that appear to be riddled with pockmarks of inch-wide stones, likely thrown at the defenders by Uruks armed with slingshots. 

Larger clay projectiles have also been discovered. Fragments of as many as 1,200 of these projectiles have been recovered during excavations, indicating an epic battle, at least by ancient standards. [4] Remains of collapsed buildings containing the charred remains of Hamoukar's possessions were also discovered. 

This, together with Uruk artifacts found atop the original settlement, shows that the invaders likely massacred, enslaved, or dispersed the original inhabitants, demolished the city, and built one of their own atop the ruins.

First recorded war

After the advent of writing by the Sumerian civilization (c. 3200 BCE), early scribes in Mesopotamia may have left behind the earliest preserved war accounts known to history.

The conflict was fought by the Sumerians and the people of the Elam region in the area around present-day Basra, Iraq.

According to Richard A. Gabriel and Karen Metz, authors of the 1992 book A Short History of War , Sumerian ruler Sargon the Great united a series of colonies throughout the region into a rudimentary empire using the first professional army in history. But when the Sumerians tried to subjugate the Elamites, the latter resisted. 

The resulting war occurred around 2700 BCE or 2600 BCE. According to the accounts of ancient Sumer, which were physically engraved on stone tablets, the army of the empire finally overthrew the Elamites and "carried off as booty the arms" of their enemies.

A more detailed account of another war, this time between competing Sumerian factions from the cities of Lagash and Umma, around 2525 BCE, has been immortalized in pictures on a stone tablet. It supposedly shows the slain enemies of ruler Lagash Eannatum being torn to pieces by vultures and lions.

The sculpture, known as Stele of vultures, stands as the earliest recorded likenesses of ancient soldiers - helmeted and armored lancers arranged in tight formations led by a figure in a chariot.

According to Gabriel and Metz, the illustration suggests that the Sumerians maintained a standing army of some size. Other tablets from the period indicate that the Sumerian army around this period numbered at one time between 600 and 700 men.

It was equipped, supplied and maintained by the rulers of the empire. This was something of a novel approach given that other pre-Bronze Age "armies" were only mustered in an emergency and armed with all available weapons, then dispersed at the end of the war. war.


An Egyptian depiction of Pharaoh Thutmose III, winner of the Battle of Megiddo.

First account of a battle

The first detailed account of a real clash of arms comes from the ancient Egyptians. The Battle of Megiddo , fought in present-day Israel, took place in the spring of 1457 BCE when a series of Egyptian-controlled fiefdoms in present-day Syria and Israel rose up against their masters. 

The account of the battle, which took place between the forces of the Pharaoh Thutmose III and the rebel ruler of Kadesh with his Canaanite allies includes details of the date of the battle, the size of the opposing forces, the casualties suffered, and even the weapons used.

Thanks to the ancient Egyptian historian Tjaneni who confided the details of the clash to the walls of the Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak, we know that the Egyptian army numbered between 10,000 and 20,000 men, while Kadesh and company had between 10,000 and 15,000 fighters on the ground.

We also know that the pharaoh's enemies suffered around 83 deaths and 340 of them were taken prisoner. The Egyptians won the day after outmaneuvering the divided enemy forces using a mixture of infantry and mounted archers. 

The victors would go on to besiege the city of Megiddo for seven months. The King of Kadesh would surrender the city and then later escape. The townspeople were spared.


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