Human conflict is a significant area of study in history, archeology and anthropology as shown by the volumes of researches and overviews of case studies. The subject of war is not only of great importance on its own right, but touches on a number of other issues that border on topics such as the biases and history of archeology, nature of archeological evidence and the evolutionary psychology of archeology and anthropology. Research on origins are always attractive, explorative and interesting, and the history and origin of war is no exception. Providing a complete theory of the origins of war, this discussion explores the aesthetics in the discussion of the origin of war.
Origin of War
The domestication of animals and invention agriculture are acknowledged as developments that resulted in emergence of urban societies. The urban societies appeared about the year 4000 BC in both Mesopotamia and Egypt. The societies used stone tools, but within 500 years, the stone tools gave way to bronze, after which emerged the evolution of warfare. These early ages saw the development of many weapons; armor, composite bow, penetrating axe, helmet, the wheel and chariot. With the weapons came the numbers of tactic innovation; increased mobility, emergence of rank structure and staff, pursuit and phalanx formation. The invention of bronze increased the warfare in the early ages and period of human history. In brief, the Bronze Age brought about the military revolution from the perspective of weaponry and technology. The birth of warfare was made possible by the emergence of new societies that had social structures which gave legitimacy, social behaviors and roles. In addition, the scale of urban societies in the forth millennium paved way for efficient large production of agricultural products, which gave way to new populations and expansions.
Early societies gave initial examples of institutions of governance, basically as chiefdoms and later, as monarchs. Such new forms of governance gave permanence and stability to centralized management of resources. Chiefdoms supported and organized small scale armies that forged the societal orders. At the same time, the central government demanded creation of central administration that was capable of directing society to set visions and objectives. With such administration structures coupled with record keeping and writing, dikes, pyramids and the irrigation systems were constructed in Egypt by 3100 BC, and also in the state of Mesopotamia. Concisely, the administrative structures and the development of social structure gave birth to military structure to protect these developments.
The military castle stabilized former loose warrior caste that developed in the fifth millennium in the tribal societies. By 2700 BC, there were fully organized military structures, organized along modern lines. The standing army became a permanent structure of society that was endowed with love and legitimacy. Since 2700 BC, the wars have continued to develop. The changes of large number of people into complex societies required pledging allegiance to the state, and not tribe, clan or community as it was before. The early age social and psychological changes were integrated into social orders and linked religious worships to social, military and political objectives that were within the scopes of defined boundaries. Consequently, the ancient leaders such as the Pharaohs of Egypt became so divine that the people perceived their achievements as divine and godly inspired. In this manner, the power of religion was placed under the service of armies and the state.
Years later, some of the early approaches to war changed. To survive the predatory behavior of others, the conduct of military and war became legitimate with institutionalized structures in a show of cultural development. The later periods saw emergence of political, psychological, social and military technologies which made the act of war normal and part of social existence. In less than two millenniums, the world went from a period of relatively rare war to an age in which destruction and death were attained in massive proportions. It was in Sumer and Egypt that the word first witnessed the emergence of the world’s first armies.
The World’s First Organized Armies
The Middle East produced the world’s first armies; the areas of Sumer, Egypt and Akkad (the present day Iraq) produced the first and most sophisticated militaries of the Bronze Age. In 2300 BC, Sargon the Great started a military campaign that united all Mesopotamia to conquer and rule the area of Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea to the mountains of Taurus in Turkey. In these early settings, Taurus developed the first world dictatorship. The Sumerian civilization was believed to be the first to emerge on the planet. It is in this area that the first writing of military battles emerged on clay tablets. Apparently, there was no society of this age that was more advanced in application and design of military technique and weaponry than the ancient Samarians. The ancient Samaria retained the military prowess for over two thousand years before leaving it to the rest of the Middle East.
The greatest period of war was witnessed between 3000 and 2316 BC. The period was characterized by constant wars between major cities and their perceived enemies. It is in this period that the war between the Sumerians and the Elamites was first recorded. This first recorded war in the area paved way for the modern war of the last years between the two states. The volatility of the area and the constant war against the city-states created the development of military techniques and technology that was far and beyond any other during the same period. Detailed evidence of the early wars were also recorded between the Lagash and Ummah states in 2525 BC. The evidence of the battle lies in the commemorative statue that was put in place by the Eannatum to celebrate their victory. It portrays the lions and birds of prey feeding on the corpses of the defeated soldiers in the desert plains, later named the Stele of Vultures. The implication and information in this stele is priceless. The stele provides the evidence of the fighters wearing helmets and Eannnatum riding a chariot, showing evidence of defensive response to a lethal offensive weapon and transport logistics at that time. It is proven by cuneiform records that in the 50-year rule of the Sargon the Great, the ruler fought more than 34 wars, with the suggestion that in one account his military had over 5400 men, the largest army at the time.
Wars in the Age of the Horse
These wars in the age of the horse occurred in the periods of between 1066 and 1346. Over this period, battle fields acted purely for defensive roles. There were uses of tight formations such as “Great Wall” tactic to protect the horses, while it formed for a charge. Effectiveness of cavalry was great and easily felt because the knights who were the users of cavalry, and most of the time, they had plenty of time for training because they were always supported by others. They were well fed on better diet that made them larger and stronger than the men who formed the infantry (the men in infantry were commoners). Their capability was magnified by their investment in arms, horses, and armor. They knights were rarely vulnerable in the battle field, their padded gambeson and mail armor protected them from injuries. The mobility of horses enabled the knights to pursue the defeated enemies effectively and efficiently, and helped them to escape from the slower moving infantry to avoid unwanted battles. The combination of speed and armor made the use of horses in the armies effective as foragers, and gave them a core role in extended siege, which would otherwise been broken by lack of supplies than an enemy action.
The horse as equipment was extremely expensive; one horse would cost an equivalent of about $42, which was an equivalent of a salary of a foot solder for a year. The cost of horse limited the number of knights in the battle field of the medieval armies. However, because of its agricultural wealth and huge population, France was able to afford a larger number of the knights despite their cost. Furthermore, French knights were regarded as the finest in the world at that time. France’s royal army dominated in the feudal military in Europe and North Africa.
The Field Armies
In the thirteenth century, most battles were fought by the infantry, which did not win major wars. In the beginning of the fourteenth century, however, there was a revolution that overtook European by storm. One the armies that was extremely organized and advanced was the French and the German armies. The French army was led by Napoleon, who was known to be the king of battle tactics. In his career as a general, Napoleon fought over fifty battles, and in all of this, he lost only seven. The Napoleon army was organized in divisions of 20,000 to 40,000 men commanded by his marshals. Each division was like a miniature army, possessing its own infantry, artillery, cavalry, communication and administration. Divisions would match a day in between one another to avoid confusion. Maneuvering was much easier using this system as the chain of command was made shorter which eased communications and increased speed of deployment. Napoleon used the corps system, especially when he was fighting two armies; he did this on several occasions. The other tactic he used while fighting two armies was to destruct one army as he destroyed the other, the corps system made it easier to perform this maneuver. Furthermore, the tactic of spacing armies gave them greater mobility by forgoing supply lines.
It is not the numbers, nor the organization prowess that gave Napoleon victory, but his deployment tactics gave him an edge over his enemies. In the same era, line war was the standard deployment of infantry; soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder and fired towards their enemies. Columns were set deeper than wide, which made them look like a huge block advancing towards the enemy. The column tactic brought with it the advantage of more effective bayonet charge and more rapid mobility on the battle field. The deployment tactic was also meant to instill fear and panic into the enemy ranks. Napolion applied this system to German forces at Austerlitz and it worked.
Strategic Military Technology
The study of military strategic technology started in the early seventeenth century, but it is in the nineteenth century that saw the technological change that greatly altered the scope of strategy and tactics. The alteration was first seen in the US civil war. The steamships and rail roads increased mobility and conscription while the growth in accuracy and range of gun power created new strategic and tactical dilemma. Because of its improved range, artillery was placed further behind lines, and line tactic and mass charge became ineffective. Troops began to shoot from trenches and landmines and grenades were used. The communications were eased by the use of telegraph which connected several military bases, this made a wide scale tactic and strategy possible. The machine gun development later in the nineteenth century had most disastrous and elaborate effect in World War I.
World war begun with rapid and immense offensive maneuvers and national mobilization, but after the battle of Marne the trench war fare emerged and traveled wide across the battle front. There were two key technological developments that fashioned the tactical and strategic of early nineteenth century. Armored vehicles such as tank and army personnel carriers also came into being courtesy of World War I. The Germans were the first to use the technology of air power in a tactical combination of tank and air power in the battle of blitzkriegs, with this they concurred much of Europe in World War II.
A number of varieties of tactics were used in World War II, but the show of advancement in technology came inform of amphibian warfare. Modern battle ships were built to support the land and sky power of the nations involved. However, the main significance of the World War II the application of global strategies supported by several coalitions of nations dedicated to the offensive. The introduction of nuclear science and tactics continued even after the world war. These nuclear weapons are very destructive, but their use and tactical application may be preferred after the World War II.
The Sea Power
The second half of the nineteenth century saw serious thinking because land power was dominated by upcoming technologies; railroads, rifled weapons and telegraphic communications, technologies that immensely increased the ability of armies to cause casualties on each other within minutes. Mass armies of conscripts replaced the small well-trained armies. Their rapid response and mobilization were strategically decisive. Furthermore, if fully utilized and equipped with modern weapons, could ambush an opponent and swift victory would be almost assured. The technology that made war more fatal and deadly also made the speed of advancement faster and more fragile in the advanced societies because of rising importance of industrial workers who might force a revolution. Furthermore, their dependence on international raw materials made it tougher to obtain goods during the times of war.
The same world powers started thinking along the lines of the navy, who had been ignored and their activities had no interest in military tactics and theories. In the earlier age of sailing, the naval war fare was considered problematic than the armies war on land; building and maintaining warships was extremely labor and capital intensive than sizeable army. As a result, the powers preferred army to navy. However, at the end of the nineteenth century, more analysis were done on the navy. After serious analysis, the economists found that it was more economical moving large goods on sea than on land. This fact defined the creation and use of navy in war which was defending a nation on sea and disrupting the trade of perceived enemy on sea.
The naval war became the strategic show of economic competition between states using any other means to achieve their goals. The early economists brought in a new version and concepts about understanding the relationship between the state economic interest and war. They found that no country can wage industrial war for long if cut from overseas markets and supplies and the nation that controlled the sea could do whatever it wished militarily while continuously provide the material goods to its the citizens. Therefore the new naval ships were built by the Americans and the Europeans. The new steel ships had long range guns mounted on them; furthermore, the transformation of navy transformed them into great powerful machines with poor vision suited only to fight each other at sea.
The Air Power
After the investigation on the sea power, the interest drifted to war in the air; the most powerful military innovation of the twentieth century. Air power is the secret of winning wars through destruction of enemy’s assets and instilling fear. The bombardment of enemy’s cities, factories, infrastructure, and communication lines can break the enemy’s will to force surrender. The invention of airpower brought with it new hopes that this new lethal weapon could do what army and navy had never done before. The war pundits of the earlier twentieth century argued that the air power could succeed in blockage and defeat the enemy armed forces in the fields and bases and if well managed, the bomber crafts could prove to a true revolutionary weapon. However, the air power did not succeed in the World War II, when it was introduced by Germany. The Germans had expected the British to surrender after continuous bombardments or at least destroy the British defenses against inversion. The Germans campaign left over forty three thousand Britons dead, but it unified Britain more than destroys it. The second failure of air power was when the British used air power on Germany, in this case, their precision was poor and the bombers failed in several occasions to bomb even the open targets like rail yards and air fields. It seems bombing failed to produce victory to either Britons or the Germans, the most casualty it claimed were the bombers themselves, the British lost over fifty six thousand men while the Germans lost almost the same number.
It has been only over four hundred years since the era of gun powder armies, the massive destruction of lives and properties are immense, regardless of improvement of weaponry, the wounded soldier still endures pain and bleeds the same way it deed in hundreds of years ago. Regardless of advancement in weaponry and military technology, men still remain fragile both in heart and bone. Peace is the only true path to civilization.