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Historical Warfare: Numidian cavalry

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Numidian cavalry was a type of light cavalry developed by the Numidians. they were described by the Roman historian Livy as "by far the best horsemen in Africa."

The Numidian cavalry horses, were small compared to other horses of the era, and as a result, were well adapted for faster movement over long distances. Numidian horsemen rode without saddles or bridles, controlling their mounts with a simple rope around their horse's neck. However, they had no form of bodily protection except for a round leather shield, and their main weapon were javelins in addition to a short sword.

Due to their horsemanship and agility, The Numidian Cavalry were most suitable for harassing tactics, charging in loose formation and throwing their javelins before wheeling off to escape the enemy's counterattack. This harassing tactic, while rarely decisive, could be extremely frustrating to a less mobile enemy.

As a result of their mobile nature, they were extremely useful for reconnaissance missions. Being able to move swiftly, and avoid detection. As a result they were used extensively by a number of different empires, most noticeably Carthage, where the Numidian Cavalry saw their greatest achievements under the Carthaginian General, Hannibal Barca.


Cartwright, M. and Cartwright, M. (2018). Carthaginian Army. [online] Ancient History Encyclopedia. Available at: https://www.ancient.eu/Carthaginian_Army/ [Accessed 27 Aug. 2018].

Cartwright, M. and Cartwright, M. (2018). Carthaginian Warfare. [online] Ancient History Encyclopedia. Available at: https://www.ancient.eu/Carthaginian_Warfare/ [Accessed 27 Aug. 2018].

Encyclopedia Britannica. (2018). Numidia | ancient region, Africa. [online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/place/Numidia [Accessed 1 Sep. 2018].

Mark, J. and Mark, J. (2018). Punic Wars. [online] Ancient History Encyclopedia. Available at: https://www.ancient.eu/Punic_Wars/ [Accessed 27 Aug. 2018].


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