The Lydian Lancers, or the Cavalry of the Maiandros Valley, are experienced citizen horsemen from the interior of southwestern Asia Minor. They have a strong charge and good speed, but like most horsemen will suffer against prepared spearmen, heavy missile volleys, or elite, armored cavalry.
These cavalry are the flower of the citizenry of the scores of cities of southwest Mikra Asia. Most of the cities can trace public monuments and walls (if they were not torn down) to the days of the Lydian supremacy under Kroisos, who founded several of them, although many of the cities now bear names of Diadochoi, dynastai, or their wives. Many of these cities enjoy various concessions and privileges, and their younger, wealthier citizens have trained for service in defense of their state, or for personal glory in the service of the kingdoms. The wide valleys of the Maiandros and its associated rivers offer ample space for cities and horses. These riders are respected lancers, with a furious charge suited to scattering Pisidian or Galatian raiders.
The Maiandros valley runs from southern Phrygia, on the borders with Lykaonia, through Apamea Kelainai, along the northern parts of Pisidia and Lykia, near the southeastern origin of the Hermos valley, and gathering further west the northern ends of the Karian valleys before opening into the river's mouth near Magnesia, Miletus, and Mykale. The whole region was once part of greater Lydia, but in the Hellenistic period was home to Karians, Ionians, Lydians, Phrygians, Pisidians, and others. While these all retained some sense of local identity and inter-regional competition, their customs shared many things, even before Hellenization began its process of smoothing regional wrinkles. One thing many of these regions shared was a strong cavalry tradition. Whereas many cavalrymen in Mysia, Hellespontine Phrygia, and Bithynia fought with shields, many in the south preferred lancers, although both panoplies could be found throughout the region. The lancer cavalry tradition in the south, in and around the Maiandros valley, was likely fueled by the citizen cultures that developed in those areas during the Hellenistic period. While some cities in the region were host to Successor garrisons or even settlers, those imposed institutions generally did little to disrupt internal autonomy or the development (or retention) of strong local military traditions. From Kibyra in the Kabalia to Synnada near Galatia to Tralleis and Magnesia upon the Maiandros, the Hellenizing populations of southern Asia Minor built strong, often aristocratic, citizenries, and horsemanship accompanied those developments. Funerary stelai in many places attest the service, both to state and to the Hellenistic kingdoms, of citizen cavalrymen from these many cities.
The Lydian Lancers are a capable offensive element, best used for frontal shock on loose-order infantry, even formidable Galatians, for flanking attacks against engaged infantry, or to drive less capable cavalry from the field. A wise general might also use them to screen movements, cover withdrawing contingents, or follow up a routing foe.