Why Couldn’t Ancient Rome Invent Stirrups?

Ancient Technology: WARFARE – History Documentary – YouTube


I used to do Medieval Warfare games, my main concern when playing in fantasy war games was concentrated mainly on tactical warfare situations.  Shaping events on a battlefield is greatly amusing.  A lifelong love of sword fighting and playing war games causes me to think about war systems and how civilizations rise and fall due to sudden technological changes on the battlefield.  Many things have been invented, 99% of the time, by fighting males.  Today, I want to discuss why even ancient Rome couldn’t figure out something as simple as the stirrup.


Alexander the Great who spent nearly his entire life on the back of a horse, couldn’t figure out how to make a stirrup.  All the greatest minds which had access to one of the greatest library systems, set up by Alexander’s buddies, couldn’t figure out one of the simplest technological tools of ancient warfare.


The ancient Romans figured out how to make huge siege engines, gigantic tools for tearing down walls, some of the most sophisticated water and irrigation systems which still stand to this day, two thousand years later…and they couldn’t fathom how to ride a horse with saddle and stirrups!


This is a key question to ask because what destroyed Rome was…the stirrup.
Mongolia’s Horse Race Evokes Genghis Khan – YouTube

The children in this race video ride bareback without stirrups.  This trains children in the art of moving in harmony with their horses.  Then, when adults, they are trained to ride with stirrups.  Why is this?


Well, jumping over bodies of fallen victims of the Steppe people and being able to shoot bow and arrow, use spears and then in close combat, using swords is more stable and one has greater power behind one’s blows if one is firmly afixed upon the horse via saddle and stirrups.


In retrospect, the concept of stirrups is blindingly obvious yet it didn’t appear for several thousand years after humans first decided to use horses as transportation animals.  The chariot, first appearing around 5,000 years ago, is a very complex machine.


The evolution of the chariot required in the beginning, multiple horses or donkeys to pull the machine, the wheel had to be invented and the axle had to be designed, it is extremely complex and it showed up at the same time as the earliest empires!


The ancient Romans used chariots all over the place and had many designs of chariots yet they could not figure out how to make a simple stirrup.


This is one of the simplest technologies!  And deadly!  True, first saddles had to evolve.  This was quite a bit trickier.  I used to train horses.  One trick horses universally learn when quite young and I assure everyone, all horses do this immediately: hold their breath when the saddle is mounted and the trainer tightens the cinch.


It is funny and when teaching a young horse, always would cause me to laugh.  The trick is, when the horse deliberately holds its breath, one has to ‘burp’ the horse by using the knee in the groin of the horse.  Usually, the horse snorts and gives you a dirty look when you do this.


So, why did the plains people of central Asia figure out the saddle and the stirrup while ancient Romans who were extremely inventive in so many ways, yet this eluded them totally and entirely and when the first mounted raiders attacked the Rumanian provinces of Rome which were rich pickings indeed, the mounted raiders swept away the Roman fighting forces with ease!


All the barbarians pouring over the Roman Empire, destroying it systematically, were using the stirrup.  The puzzled Romans tried to save themselves via hiring these aliens to fight for them which they did do…only to still attack in between jobs, the Roman people were utterly helpless by this point and couldn’t fight off any of the mounted attackers.


And thus, Rome collapsed in the West and was tremendously reduced in size and power in the Eastern half and the rulers there were all former barbarians.  Out of this stirrup holocaust arose a New Europe: the Medieval Knights who were not only mounted with stirrups but could fight on horseback in full metal armor.


Oddly enough, the stirrup arose in ancient China, a crude stirrup used to hoist government officials onto transportation for going into the mountains, not the plains.  Chariots can’t climb around the Himalayan Mountains, after all.


To this day, people move around those mighty mountains on the back of hardy small ponies.  I have had ponies and unlike large horses, they can climb up and down like mountain goats, and what better way to go around in the mountains than on a horse with stirrups?


The evolution of the clunky, large stirrup for transportation to the tool of the most violent warfare as done on the great open plains of Asia.  When the stirrup was spotted by tribes that rode bareback style, they played around with the technology until they created the finely tuned, very light tool we know so well today.


Once this happened, it took barely a generation to figure out how to fight while riding with stirrup and very light saddles.  Ancient Chinese saddles were huge and clunky, the new plains people saddles were very light and using stirrups, one could rise up high to shoot arrows, turn backwards and shoot and of great importance: JUMP.


Suddenly, obstacles to movement vanished as horses were trained to jump up to five feet or even more, climbing up steep banks thrown up to stop armies suddenly became useless as horses would charge up steep inclines.


We see this clearly at the famous battle in England when the Norman knights attacked the British forces behind a shieldwall on a hillside.


During the Middle Ages, castles became horse depots where the fighting tools were kept secure.  The siege tactics of the Middle Ages were Roman tactics.  That didn’t change at all.  The other innovation to come from China was gun powder.


That changed warfare again, totally and destroyed the need for horses.  It is of great interest to me to see the Chinese very cleverly invented a number of incredible things that changed history only the Chinese never really figured out how to use the invention of gun power and the stirrup, it was always the clever barbarians who figured out nasty uses for Chinese inventions.


And then used these to enslave the Chinese people!  Even things like ship building: the Chinese at the dawn of the Age of Exploration when Europeans suddenly began sailing very far from home with constantly improved technology, their original goal was…to go to China and take over there!!!


And the Chinese invented novel shipping methods only to suddenly drop it all and hunker down and try to prevent the invading foriegn ships from attacking China, uselessly and hopelessly and finally being totally conquered.


So we have, in a nutshell, a dual problem here: why couldn’t other people invent simple stirrups and why did China, the inventor of gun power and stirrups and a host of other things, always fall flat on the face and their own inventions turned against them and being conquered by their imitators using these tools?


Seriously, this is a very important question and we can see in events unfolding on this planet why we must figure out why great civilizations can’t think straight or do very obvious things to prevent disaster.  Why empires fall to barbarians is a very, very big topic as we watch Europe plunge off the cliff, openly inviting invaders into Europe and allowing them to utterly destroy civilization there.


And why are we trying to do this, too?  Half of our voting public seems to want this Roman-style End of Times.  Baffling to me, utterly baffling.





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16 responses to “Why Couldn’t Ancient Rome Invent Stirrups?

  1. Melponeme_k

    The answer is mainly due to religion and how it developed the cultures.

    It was found that the concept of communism was attractive to the Asian and even EURO-Asian (Russia, Eastern Europe) mindset because their religion was more communal based. It didn’t emphasize individuality. It emphasized the family as a whole with only the male father figure in full personhood. This figure bowed down to the state. It is already in the religion (Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism). So the leap from their religion to Communism wasn’t large at all.

    This was the stumbling block in introducing Communism to Western Judeo-Christian based culture. These religions stress Logos based beliefs that are revealed individually to each parishioner. So individuality is built into the religion. That was the flaw that the elites failed to take out of it when molding their control systems.

    They began to FIX this flaw by introducing Eastern Based religions in the 1800s. Blavatsky’s Theosophy was a spook molded system (Blavatsky worked with a man who was in intelligence, Henry Steele Olcott) designed to DE-PERSON the populace through religious warfare. This picked up to lightening hot status in the 1960s when the CIA pushed Hare Krishnas, New Age religions and crazy Christianity sects with Eastern influence.

    Well it worked didn’t it? We are now in the midst of a Communist revolution. Forged on purpose by the Bilderberg Elite.

    And the destruction of Rome was planned. The Bilderbergs have been around since Phoenicia and they have been created and destroying culture to their liking from the get go. They call themselves Jewish, but I highly doubt that fact. But via their trade routes, they were already marrying into powerful “Barbarian” tribes then egged them on to war. The viking invasions may have gotten out of hand, but not for long.

    In regards to inventions, since Asian culture is a kind of mono-culture, there is no incentive to be the nail head that sticks out. In Western culture everyone sticks out. Competition is needed to evolve new ideas, without it, things would stagnate. Asian culture stagnated in many ways. Hence Europe was able to steamroll over them.

  2. Jim R

    Nah, Rome died of the usual causes of imperial decline.

    Their aristocracy were inbred, stupid, and genetically defective.

    Different parts of the empire were in conflict with each other.

    Their food and water supplies became polluted with lead and other toxins.

    … And they had mowed down all their forests, to build things and for firewood.

    More than anything, I think it was ‘peak wood’.

  3. Melponeme_k

    No, Jim, TRADE rules the world and always has ruled it. This was how the elite made it.

    They give the answer away in their own mass media! Game of Thrones is quite useful because it is about THEIR view of history. How does a disparate group of “barbarians” suddenly decide to attack civilized nations? Hmmm? The answer is given right in that silly show. Royalty fighting other Royalty.

    That happened in reality, PLENTY.

    The elite have divided and united the countries on the map for as long as they had trade in their pockets. WE DON’T GET REAL HISTORY. REAL history is hidden in their own private libraries. The jewels in their crowns. Why do you think huge palatial libraries are a constant motif in their fictions? Because they are real! Because they hold works we will NEVER see and know. They use REAL history to work against us. Cut the head off their hydra culture, and a new one grows in place.

    That is why we have to destroy their life blood…Centralized Banking.

  4. ziff

    another example ,why does it take so long to solve the simple plastic waste problem ?

  5. Petruchio

    I have to agree with Jim R here. Rome declined for the reasons Jim cites in his post. Also, Rome began to lean very heavily on Mercenaries. The Ruling Class no longer wanted to fight wars; they became soft and weak. And Rome turned into an Oligarchy. People were given Power because of WHO they were instead of any actual competence. When Rome was Powerful, the leadership, especially the Military ones, were accountable. If they proved incompetent or were failures, methods were in place to take corrective action. When the Merit based system ended, so did Rome’s power.

  6. Lou

    Why empires fall to barbarians is a very, very big topic as we watch Europe plunge off the cliff, openly inviting invaders into Europe and allowing them to utterly destroy civilization there……The jews are to blame. Celler, Javits, Barbara Specter, etc.


    HAHAHA. They were the horse people who figured out the stirrup! And who were the Emperors in the Eastern Rome? Again: horse riders. Who ruled Europe after Rome?

    The horse masters who also used ships and carried their horses on ships, terrorizing everyone and stealing everything.

    Look, people missed my story entirely, it wasn’t about the decline and fall of a nation, it was all about who took over and ruled for 2,000 years afterwards!

    I am a horse person, by the way.

  8. Melponeme_k

    “They were the horse people who figured out the stirrup!”

    They were horse people used as mercenaries by sea faring trading companies ruled by trading princes. If some groups wished to make their play for a monopoly, they went looking for pawns. The horse people were available and lured in by easy pickings. The old cities and families were destroyed and new ones arose in their places.

    It’s fairly simple to understand. THEY TELL US what they did in their awful sci-fi and fantasy fiction. Asimov told you to your face what they did! They tell us repeatedly and they tell us what they are planning to do. I don’t wonder anymore why they laugh at us.

    The invitation of Muslims as cat’s paws has been done before, repeatedly. We should all get a clue by now.

  9. Dennis Roe

    Thanks for the historical insight, very cool.

  10. Zeke

    Thought provoking article and question, Elaine.
    A gladiatorial combat reenactor says the European Union is the Holy Roman Empire in a different form. http://spartacus-educational.com/spartacus-
    Many similarities but many differences too.

  11. Timothy cheng

    hi Elaine

    what war game do you recommend

    I’m sick of freemium shite, where they throw you right into online play, where immediately get your was kicked and will have to pay to stay alive

  12. HAHAHA, Timothy…that is the scam! They are mercenaries out to make money via mugging people in a video game. I remember the very very first video games because I worked for Texas Instruments at a satellite business that created early electronics and I watched as guys created ‘PONG’ the silly early game we all thought was very funny to play.

    Ping pong on a computer, we didn’t even has color screens way back in 1972. The screens were greenish. Typing words on the screen, white letters on the green screen, was a new thing back then, we could send messages to each other via computer…this was a government thing contracted to the company…

    Today, we have the open internet which the rulers want to shut down thus the open censorship and demands of despots like in China.

    The days of fun and game is now over. This is now a serious fight for control. And the winner will kill the internet.

  13. Case

    Why did we land on the moon before putting wheels on a suitcase?

    The Chinese never used their inventions since they had no need. China was unified and hegemonic. The inventions could only for novelty and curiosity. Europe was fragmented into little states all competing ruthlessly with each other, so every “edge” needed to be found and exploited to win.

    Perhaps the same case with Rome. Already so powerful and dominant, they needed no small edges in order to win so they don’t look for one. The underdog on the other hand, needs every small edge they can get.

  14. Why weren’t stirrups invented when people first mounted horses!!!???

    See? You missed my point somewhat. Rome ‘lost the edge’ before the Huns invaded. They were totally taken by surprise by the arrival of horse people using stirrups who couldn’t be unseated from a horse no matter how hard you push them.

    I rode horses most of my long life and trained horses. Even if you are knocked off of a horse, if it has a barbarian style saddle and stirrups, you can mount again EVEN WHEN HURT.

    My husband had to do that, once. Hurt his back, was able to pull himself onto the saddle. I have had to remount after something bad happened and the stirrup is great for remounting.

    Even more important: the size of the horses changed due to the stirrup! I should have talked about that, too: ponies were the only horses one can ride bareback easily, but war horses are much taller and the Normans bred these excellent fighting horses in Normandy.

    Ponies have a different gait than the large war horses. Ponies ‘trip along on tiny hooves’ while war horses smash everything in their paths when galloping along with another barbarian invention the Romans never figured out; HORSE SHOES!

    Made out of iron, this literally ‘kicked ass’ too. This made war horses the supreme War Machine in Europe for 1,000 years.

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