Between 3000 BC and 0 AD, weaponry and battlefield tactics went through
many significant changes. Spearmen and foot archers made up the first
dominant armies, but they were replaced by chariot archers, who dominated
from 1700 to 1200 BC, near the end of the Bronze Age. At that time a
catastrophe befell most of the established kingdoms and palaces. Outside
of Egypt and Assyria, all were burned when barbarian infantry and light
troops reestablished battlefield dominance, making chariots obsolete in a
An ancient Dark Age lasting 500 years followed the barbarian conquests and
ushered in the Iron Age. During this chaotic period, infantry reassumed
battlefield domination, although cavalry began to appear and grow in
importance, especially in the Middle East. The Classical Age associated
with Greek culture followed the Dark Age.
The infantry phalanx of Greece was predominant on their battlefields, but
Persian armies were more integrated, adding missile troops and extensive
cavalry. The concept of the integrated army was perfected by Philip and
Alexander the Great of Macedonia in the fourth century BC. At the head of
this army, Alexander conquered the known civilized world by the age of 32.
Relative peace settled on the East in the wake of Alexander’s conquest,
but in the western Mediterranean, Roman legions began to assert
themselves. The Roman legions were integrated armies based on infantry
that dominated the rest of the ancient era.