Top 10 Greatest Ancient Armies



Top 10 Greatest Ancient Armies

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
To quote Sun Tzu: “The art of war is of vital importance to the State.” For this list we'll be looking at the mightiest armies of Antiquity, up until the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Greatest Ancient Armies.

Special thanks to our user DutchSkyGamerz for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Strongest+Ancient+Armies.
Script written by Derick McDuff

Top 10 Greatest Ancient Armies

To quote Sun Tzu: “The art of war is of vital importance to the State.” Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 greatest ancient armies. For this list we’ll be looking at the mightiest armies of Antiquity, up until the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD.

#10: Neo-Assyrian Empire

For three centuries, the Neo-Assyrians ruled Mesopotamia, constituting the largest empire in the world. Its kings conquered a vast amount of territory, stretching from Egypt to the Persian Gulf. In part, its military success was due to the reforms of ruler Tiglath-Pileser III, who in the eighth century BC created Assyria’s first standing army. He increased its size by incorporating thousands of foreigners from vassal states, but the empire’s most formidable forces were its contingents of horse-drawn chariots. With their superior numbers, iron swords, and thundering chariots, the Neo-Assyrians were truly a force to be reckoned with.

#9: The Gauls

Spread out across Western Europe, the Gaul lacked a central government, but that didn’t stop them from banding together to fight in large scale military campaigns in raids and to repel invaders. They famously faced off against the Romans, who described them as fierce, passionate warriors, who fought with long swords in loose formations and sometimes charged into battle naked. Led by the chieftain Brennus, they even invaded Italy and in 387 BC sacked Rome itself - a feat that would remain unmatched until the Visigoths attacked the city 800 years later.

#8: Babylonia

Under the leadership of Hammurabi, sixth king of the First Babylonian Dynasty, this humble-city-state became an empire that conquered almost all of Mesopotamia. The king is best remembered for the eponymous “Code of Hammurabi”, preserved on a stone stele, which established the laws of the land. But he was also a conqueror, who led a well-disciplined army, and defeated many of the surrounding city-states before marching against other major powers in the region, including the Old Assyrian Empire. One of his favorite stratagems was to damn up local water supplies, forcing his enemies to capitulate.

#7: The Huns

These nomads from the Eurasian Steppes smashed through forces in Central Asia and Western Europe, and under the leadership of the infamous Attila, fought and pillaged their way deep into the Western Roman Empire. Devious tacticians, and master horsemen, they fought with bows and long swords and javelins from horseback, overwhelming their enemies with rapid charges, while keeping forces in reserve for reinforcement. Sweeping through Europe, they seemed unstoppable, and only after Attila’s death, weakened by internal struggles, was the tide of war gradually turned against them.

#6: Carthage

While the Huns became Rome’s sworn enemies in the Empire’s later years, Carthage owned the role first, battling them in the Punic Wars from 264 BC to 146 BC. The Carthaginian Empire is best remembered for its genius commander Hannibal, whose brilliant and influential military tactics are still studied today, over two thousand years later. His execution of the pincer movement to surround and defeat a much larger Roman force at the Battle of Cannae is considered one of the greatest maneuvers in military history. But Hannibal’s crowning achievement might be leading his army, war elephants and all, right through the Alps and into Italy.

#5: Egypt

Ancient Egypt didn’t survive for three thousand years without developing an incredibly robust military. One of the first major civilizations in history, unified in around 3100 BC, it had to defend its considerable borders against numerous foreign powers. It also learnt from its enemies. From Hyksos invaders, who took control of Egypt between the Middle and New Kingdoms, Egypt took the composite bow and horse-drawn chariot, and also adopted the brutal, sickle-shaped khopesh. These technologies, and the creation of a professional, standing army, helped the Egyptians revolutionize their military, and set about conquering many of their old enemies.

#4: Kingdom of Macedonia

For much of Classical Antiquity, the Kingdom of Macedonia was seen as backwards by its rivals. That all changed when Philip II came to the throne. His innovative military tactics and state of the art armor and weapons turned a small, part-time fighting force into one of the most advanced, well-disciplined standing armies the world had ever seen - crushing all who stood against him with phalanxes of pike-wielding infantrymen. In a remarkably short time Philip had conquered Hellenistic Greece, but it was his son, Alexander the Great, who led the army to achieve the unthinkable - defeating Persia, Asia Minor, and Egypt, all without losing a battle.

#3: Han Dynasty

Ancient China had some impressive armies, but that of the Han dynasty stands out. In the late third century BC, the collapse of the Qin Dynasty plunged China into chaos, until rebel leader Liu Bang of Han reunified the empire. Under Han rule, male commoners were conscripted into two years of military service, swelling the military’s ranks, while a professional standing army was used to guard the vulnerable northern frontier. Popular weapons included the crossbow and the jian, a straight, double-edged sword. With these forces, the Han dynasty was able to expand its borders, and endure for four centuries before conflicts and internal corruption brought about its collapse.

#2: Roman Empire

Ancient Rome’s place in history as one of the most powerful and influential civilizations in the world is in so small part thanks to its military might. The Republic’s incredibly well-trained, well-disciplined, and well-equipped army conquered a massive swath of territory, from England to Egypt - crushing many of our prior entries in the process. It became even more powerful when the Republic became an Empire, during which time it transitioned from a system of short-term conscription to the formation of a permanent standing army. Thanks to their organization, training, and superior arms, Rome’s iconic legionaries were among the most formidable soldiers in history.

Before we reveal our top pick here are a few honorable mentions:

Sasanian Empire

Kingdom of Judah

#1: Achaemenid Empire

Also known as the Persian Empire, the Achaemenid Empire was the largest the world had ever seen, and boasted the first army to ever number half a million soldiers. Such a massive army wouldn’t be seen again in the Western world until the time of Napoleon, 2,300 years later. This incredible military force was made up of armies from all over the world, but it wasn’t just sheer numbers that made it so intimidating. It included elite, specialized troops such as the Immortals, a heavily armed infantry remembered today as one of the most legendary fighting forces of all time.

i read all of it
I was surprised to not see the Spartans on this list.
Back then, the Han dynasty had about 700,000 troops!
Hahahaha,this list is incomplete by leaving the great xerxes out of the picture.the Persian army was so great that,it was said,just a faction of his army can spread across the great sea and overwhelm it. How can you not mention the medo-persian
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