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Old February 25th, 2010, 09:57 AM   #11
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Re: Ancient Persian economy


The Achaemenid army was organised using a decimal system. The basic infantry blocks were fronted by a spearman (a sparabara) and behind him there were 9 archers. These men were to shower the enemy with arrows and in the Lydian and Babylonian and Assyrian wars this had proven to be incredibly effective; against the Greeks this did not work as they could absorb the arrows. Click the image to open in full size.
The Achaeminds also used a large variety of cavalry. This was in general, a lot more variable than the infantry. These could be composed of Scythians, Sogdians, Bactrians, Medes or Persians. I have to say I don't know a huge amount about this, but suffice to say there were heavier cavalry and lighter cavalry. Most men would be equipped with spears, javelins and an akenakes short sword.

There were also more forces from the satrapies. From Eastern Iran and the outlying empire this was generally in the form of cavalry, although India did contribute some fearsome infantry equipped with large swords about a metre long and 10cm across. Most of the heavier infantry was contributed by the western satrapies. The Lydians were similiarly equipped to their Greek opponents being heavily influenced by them and Assyrians were also used as heavy infantry, although not as heavy as the Lydians. The Carians (from Asia Minor like the Lydians) were also heavier infantry armed with sickle swords (drepanas) and daggers. Finally, troops from Egypt were armed either with bows or with large wooden shields and spears, these spearmen were more effective than the sparabara as their heavier shields gave them more staying power.

The general Achaemenid tactics were to shower the enemy with missiles to disrupt the formation before charging in with cavalry. This then broke the enemy and they retreated, to be cut down by the pursuing cavalry. In the wars with the Greeks, and later the Macedonians, this didn't work however. The missiles were absorbed by the heavily armoured phalanxes and the Achaemenid infantry was then broken by either a hoplite charge (Greeks) or by the combined use of heavy cavarly and pikemen (Macedonians). This lead to the use of heavily armed indigneous infantry called the Karadakes, who although managed to hold the phalanxes they were eventually broken. The last battle of the Achaemenids at Gaugamela was an entirely cavalry battle however, and although they nearly one, they were eventually broken.
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Old February 25th, 2010, 12:51 PM   #12
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Re: Ancient Persian economy


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The Achaemenid army was organised using a decimal system. The basic infantry blocks were fronted by a spearman (a sparabara) and behind him there were 9 archers. These men were to shower the enemy with arrows and in the Lydian and Babylonian and Assyrian wars this had proven to be incredibly effective; against the Greeks this did not work as they could absorb the arrows. Click the image to open in full size.
The Achaeminds also used a large variety of cavalry. This was in general, a lot more variable than the infantry. These could be composed of Scythians, Sogdians, Bactrians, Medes or Persians. I have to say I don't know a huge amount about this, but suffice to say there were heavier cavalry and lighter cavalry. Most men would be equipped with spears, javelins and an akenakes short sword.

There were also more forces from the satrapies. From Eastern Iran and the outlying empire this was generally in the form of cavalry, although India did contribute some fearsome infantry equipped with large swords about a metre long and 10cm across. Most of the heavier infantry was contributed by the western satrapies. The Lydians were similiarly equipped to their Greek opponents being heavily influenced by them and Assyrians were also used as heavy infantry, although not as heavy as the Lydians. The Carians (from Asia Minor like the Lydians) were also heavier infantry armed with sickle swords (drepanas) and daggers. Finally, troops from Egypt were armed either with bows or with large wooden shields and spears, these spearmen were more effective than the sparabara as their heavier shields gave them more staying power.

The general Achaemenid tactics were to shower the enemy with missiles to disrupt the formation before charging in with cavalry. This then broke the enemy and they retreated, to be cut down by the pursuing cavalry. In the wars with the Greeks, and later the Macedonians, this didn't work however. The missiles were absorbed by the heavily armoured phalanxes and the Achaemenid infantry was then broken by either a hoplite charge (Greeks) or by the combined use of heavy cavarly and pikemen (Macedonians). This lead to the use of heavily armed indigneous infantry called the Karadakes, who although managed to hold the phalanxes they were eventually broken. The last battle of the Achaemenids at Gaugamela was an entirely cavalry battle however, and although they nearly one, they were eventually broken.
Thanks for helping me out! this really helped alot!
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Old February 26th, 2010, 11:40 AM   #13
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Re: Ancient Persian economy


Sure thing, if you don't mind would you be able to send me your work when you're done? I can PM you my email if so.

Anything else needed?
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Old February 26th, 2010, 06:19 PM   #14

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Re: Ancient Persian economy


The Achaemenid army described above is more representative of the Early Achaemenid armies than of the Later Achaemenid period. By the time of Darius III, the sparbara troops mentioned above had for the most part ceased to exist. The Kardaka were an auxiliary type of troop, neither heavy nor light. They were the Persian answer to the Hypastpist and were armed either with javelins or long spear, depending on what their use for the day would be.

The Persian army also had very good close order fighting men, even in the earlier period. Until Marathon, the Greek hoplite had never defeated the Persian counterpart in close combat. By the time of Darius III, the "Immortals" ceased to exist and only a small bodyguard of a few thousand men comprised "the guard".

In addition, the Persians utilized Greek mercenary hoplites extensively, with up to 20,000 in a given army. By the time of Guagamela, Darius III had re-armed at least some of his cavalry with the lance, no doubt as an intended counter to the Macedonian Xyston, carried by the Companions.

To call Guagamela primarily a cavalry battle is incorrect, to say the least. Darius III employed some 200 scythed chariots, had 15 elephants, massive amounts of infantry, and a superb mounted arm. Alexander won because he was Alexander; a military genius with a character and boldness not seen but perhaps once in a thousand years.

At Guagamela Alexander advanced "en echelon". In this case, he advanced with his right foremost with each successive Taxis and supporting formation to the left and rear of the unit to its right. On his far right were the Companions, led by Alexander. Next came the Hypastpists, and then the Taxis of phalangites and other supporting troops.

As he knew he would be surrounded Alexander formed a second line behind the first to deal with the Persians, should in fact they flank him as he thought they would.

The Persian right (Mazaeus in command of the Persian right, IIRC) put great pressure on the Macedonian left, commanded by Alexander's right arm Parmenion. On the right, Alexander manouvered with his Companions and allegedly found a weak link in the Persian line and attacked at that point with one goal in mind --------- Kill Darius!

Greek historians tell us that Darius, once he saw Alexander and his Companions riding up on him that he quit the field and fled and with his army seeing that, they broke and started running. Personally, I seriously doubt this claim as it seems quite out of character for a man like Darius and his earlier history.

The Persian army and indeed their culture was magnificent! All before Alexander that tried to conquer her failed, and even Alexander, once he had conquered Persia, was in fact absorbed by Persian culture.

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Old February 26th, 2010, 06:44 PM   #15

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Re: Ancient Persian economy


If you are really wishing to find out more about the Persians, then as a general source, obtain the book, "History of the Persian Empire" by A.T Olmstead. I also recommend reading Herodotus, Xenophon, "The Campaigns of Alexander" by Flavius Arrianus, and "The History of Alexander" by Quintus Curtius Rufus.

Each offer their own unique perspective of the Persian Empire, the Greeks, and Alexander.

Many years ago I began a small project that required me to research Alexander. What followed was what is still a facination with these two cultures.

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Old February 26th, 2010, 07:06 PM   #16

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Re: Ancient Persian economy


In answer to your questions about the Persian economy I refer you to Olmstead, mentioned above.

In his book he tells:

Cyrus adopted the principle of organisation of the Assyrians. Cyrus formed 20 satrapies, each ruled by a governor with a full staff of subordinates. The ruler of the satrapy was called a Satrap, which meant "protector of the kingdom".

Each Satrap had his own court, carried out civil administration, and was commander of the armed forces in his satrapy. Records of the empire were kept on tablets, and thousands of these have been recovered over the years. They give a very good picture of the social and economic history of the region. The records even show loans being made with rates of interest on the loan!

These records show loans of seed, food, silver, ordinary contracts of merchants, sales of property, leases and receipts for rent, sales of slaves, apprentice agreements, and judicial decisions.

There is much, much more!
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Old February 27th, 2010, 01:03 AM   #17
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Re: Ancient Persian economy


Hmmm appears I was wrong about Gaugamela, but I took it that the majority of the fighting occured between the rival armies cavalry until the gap appeared in the Persian line, at which point the Persian infantry were engaged and the battle appears to quickly end in a Persian defeat.

I would argue though that the Kardaka were heavy troops, like a form of native hoplites, although it appears they were not Persian. Arrian himself describes them as "these were also hoplites" at the battle of Issus, after mentioning the Greek mercenaries.

As for the first defeat of the Persians by hoplites being Marathon I don't see what you are trying to say. The Achemenids never actually fought a sizeable hoplite army until Marathon, the closest probably being the Ionian cities but I do not think these raised sizeable forces at all and at the battle of Ephesus the Greeks were already tired and worn out so it was hardly a fair contest; although as you say, this was technically a defeat of the hoplites, I'm not sure engaged the hoplites were against the Achaemenid cavalry in close combat.

It is interesting as you say though, how although Alexander defeated the Achaemenids, he adopted their style of dress, kept a Persian court and tried to enforce Persian 'rituals' (is that the right word?) such as proskynesis on Macedonians. Still the majority of this ended after his death with the Seleucid kings taking a more occupying view to their rule of Iran, rather than an assmilating one, although there were hardly enough Greek settlers to form one homogenous culture.
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Old February 27th, 2010, 01:40 AM   #18
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Re: Ancient Persian economy


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Sure thing, if you don't mind would you be able to send me your work when you're done? I can PM you my email if so.

Anything else needed?
I Will send it to you, but fitst i most translate it, because it is in dutch.
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Old February 27th, 2010, 04:01 AM   #19
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Re: Ancient Persian economy


Ah right, so you're Dutch? Hadn't noticed your English was so good.
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Old February 27th, 2010, 04:25 AM   #20
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Ah right, so you're Dutch? Hadn't noticed your English was so good.
yes I am dutch and thank you
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