It's my understanding that battles between civilizations in ancient and medieval times (i.e. the time before gunpowder weaponry became widespread) were often pitched affairs in which soldiers fought in big formations, like the battles portrayed in the Total War games. But that leaves me scratching my head as to how civilizations located in jungle regions (e.g. the Maya, Khmers, or some of the Central African kingdoms) would have fought battles like that. I imagine it would be hard to keep your soldiers together in formation, let alone maneuver them around, if there are lots of trees and bushes getting in the way. Would these cultures have done all their fighting in open clearings rather than within the forest, or did they simply not do big pitched battles at all?

  • how would ancient landlocked civilizations fight naval battles? how would ancient civilizations without castles fight sieges? how would ancient tiny-island civilizations fight in the trenches? Jul 8, 2017 at 17:32
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    Contrary to what the current Yucatan landscape suggests, the Mayans weren't a jungle civilization. They were farmers (and fishermen, and traders) who basically chopped down large chunks (all?) of the Yucatan forest to make room for corn fields and burn wood for fuel and building roads called sacbe. No idea about the Kmers and Central African kingdoms, but I wouldn't be surprised if deforestation happened there too. Jul 8, 2017 at 17:56
  • Maybe the written and video documentation of intertribal warfare on Papua New Guinea, which still takes place on various scales, would give some insights to earlier practises.
    – bgwiehle
    Jul 8, 2017 at 22:11
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    @bgwiehle - I thought most of the New Guinea civilization was up in the highlands. There is jungle between them and the coast, but most of them don't live there.
    – T.E.D.
    Jul 9, 2017 at 1:49
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    Pitched battles means lots of soldiers. Lots of soldiers means a big population. A big population means agriculture and civilization. Agriculture means clearing of fields, civilization means transport routes. If they were literally "living in the jungle" there would be no big kingdoms and no pitched battles.
    – SJuan76
    Jul 9, 2017 at 11:37


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