Battle-hardened from frequent warfare, these professional soldiers are an elite fighting squad well-versed in military strategy.
A great many sources from the Early Dynastic period (2900–2340 BCE) describe recurring conflicts between the Sumerian cities, which sometimes formed military alliances. This nearly constant state of war, simultaneous with the cities’ rapid growth of these cities, led to the creation of the first standing armies and the refinement of military strategies. The emergence of regiments made up of professional soldiers (aga-ush) is recorded in written sources through the invention of titles for specific military ranks, and the appearance of the first military supply lists. Iconographic sources depict, as early as 2500 BCE, troops uniformly armed with pikes and shields, moving in compact phalanx formations of several rows. These soldiers lived in royal garrisons built for several thousand people, and were the elite troops of Sumerian armies, which also enlisted civilians in wartime. The wars of this period were waged for political, economic, and strategic reasons. For example, the century-long conflict between Lagash and Umma may have been fought to gain control over territory on which they both depended for water.