The Battle of Thermopylae what really happened?

Jul 2016
8,718
USA
#11
I'm quite sure Delbruck puts the Persian forces as only 15,000 to 25,000 men maximum interestingly. He is a noted logistical analyst and highly criticizes ancient sources about exaggerations in personnel numbers.
Because he was a military theorists who manipulated history to use as evidence to support his theories, no difference at all than Marx.

At some point I hope this clicks for you.
 
Likes: macon

macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,811
Slovenia
#12
I've read that archeologists found water cisterns in Thrace along a way of Persian army and that they were in regular intervals. Volumes were to support around 100.000 men but that was total number with camp followers. Number of fighters was around 60-70k of these.

Assyrians have pulled 100k army numbers 200-150 years before Persians I think.

I think that total Greek force was around 8000 and it was not a small force for Greeks, if you add a terrain defensive factor then Persians for sure fielded more than 20.000-25.000 because 8.000 Greeks would have stopped 20-25k in a narrow gorge. Just check your Marathon numbers and Persians were having more maneuvering space there.
 
Jul 2016
8,718
USA
#15
Archaeological evidence that can be directly linked to Xerxes's campaign?
Yeah. I found the paper years ago. If I remember correctly, it was an early 20th century dig on various sites on the Greek side of the Hellespont that found evidence for numerous supply dumps, conferring what Herodotus wrote. I'll dig for it.

Needless to say, even without archaeological remnants of the sites, Herodotus' description is good enough to understand how the invasion force was supplied. Maybe not to the super high amount from Herodotus and other ancient sources, but still much higher than many modern naysayers would ever admit (largely because they're more interesting in criticizing sources as they are trying to actually understand logistical possibilities).
 
Mar 2018
669
UK
#16
100,000 soldiers in one place. Even in 2,000 AD that would already be a not so unformidable logistical challenge. Let alone in 480 BC.

Even today not many countries would easily cough up a 100,000 strong army. Let alone 480 BC, when populations everywhere would hv been, what, easily 10,000 times smaller.

And what & how would a 100,000 man army in one place hv been eating, in 480 BC? Unless they had all been trained to live on leaves, grass and perhaps tree bark.

Are you saying that the world population in 480BC was 700,000? Because that's a ridiculously low number. A quick google puts the population of eurasia + africa at that time at around 85 million. So 100x times greater than you supposed the world population was. The Persians had a good chunk of that, and they would have had the manpower to put an army many times bigger than 100,000 without harming their agriculture of economy (most of those would be peasants given a spear, and little more than cannon fodder, but still troops). Until the modern day, the fraction of population who would be expected to fight in their lifetime was much, much higher than now.

The difficulty in having 100,000 men is logistical. It is hard, but far from insurmountable to do by sea. There are plenty of examples of similar sized armies being supported in antiquity by sea, if it were truly impossible then we'd have to discard a vast number of ancient sources. Note that something like 1,000,000 is clearly impossible, a back of the envelope calculation shows that you could carry water fast enough to prevent a concentrated force of that size from dying of first. My guesstimate is that 200,000 is more-or-less the upper limit to the size of a concentrated force you can keep supplied for an extended period of time by ship in antiquity, and maybe only 50,000 if you have to do it by road.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,130
Sydney
#17
The record of the preparations indicate the Persian army was very large ,
it's logistics preparation had been well though off
this was not just a campaign , it was a hammer blow to permanently subdue those lying Greeks
Personally a ~50.000 fighting force ( not including the Navy ) doesn't seems too far of the mark
this would include their Greeks allied and various more exotic contingents

a year later the Persians had an army of 80.00 at Platea of which a good half at least was Persian
this was after Darius retreated back home with part of the army leaving Mardonius in charge

it then follows that for the Geeks the best strategy was to delay this mass ,denie foraging and let it starve itself
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
4,940
Netherlands
#19
Are you saying that the world population in 480BC was 700,000? Because that's a ridiculously low number. A quick google puts the population of eurasia + africa at that time at around 85 million. So 100x times greater than you supposed the world population was. The Persians had a good chunk of that, and they would have had the manpower to put an army many times bigger than 100,000 without harming their agriculture of economy (most of those would be peasants given a spear, and little more than cannon fodder, but still troops). Until the modern day, the fraction of population who would be expected to fight in their lifetime was much, much higher than now.

The difficulty in having 100,000 men is logistical. It is hard, but far from insurmountable to do by sea. There are plenty of examples of similar sized armies being supported in antiquity by sea, if it were truly impossible then we'd have to discard a vast number of ancient sources. Note that something like 1,000,000 is clearly impossible, a back of the envelope calculation shows that you could carry water fast enough to prevent a concentrated force of that size from dying of first. My guesstimate is that 200,000 is more-or-less the upper limit to the size of a concentrated force you can keep supplied for an extended period of time by ship in antiquity, and maybe only 50,000 if you have to do it by road.
Judging from the carnage of the 1st Punic war, which was some 200 years later, these numbers are at least possible.
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,673
Blachernai
#20
Yeah. I found the paper years ago. If I remember correctly, it was an early 20th century dig on various sites on the Greek side of the Hellespont that found evidence for numerous supply dumps, conferring what Herodotus wrote. I'll dig for it.
Thanks, I appreciate it. I'm curious how they identify the cisterns or supply dumps, given that the eastern Mediterranean is littered with them.


Needless to say, even without archaeological remnants of the sites, Herodotus' description is good enough to understand how the invasion force was supplied. Maybe not to the super high amount from Herodotus and other ancient sources, but still much higher than many modern naysayers would ever admit (largely because they're more interesting in criticizing sources as they are trying to actually understand logistical possibilities).
Where does Cawkwell rank in your estimation on this?