Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Persian Invasion of 480 BC - articles
#16
The problem is that the food will roten very quickly in the boats (remember what happened in the invincible armada), and i doubt that the Persians would find food enough in Greece to feed all those men.
Reply
#17
Quote:The problem is that the food will roten very quickly in the boats (remember what happened in the invincible armada), and i doubt that the Persians would find food enough in Greece to feed all those men.

Quote: My personal opinion
We will never know for sure, what is the importance of numbers?
For some it is about the glory of ancient greeks, or the superiority of Western indiduality against Eastern Masses. For me it has a more practical importance. I have been researching for a paper on military revolution and logistics in medieval times, I have concluded that literary sources are almost completely non reliable, that numbers are always grossly inflated, and that there was a big leap in the XVII century with the supply lines system that allow the size of armies to grow to numbers never achieved before. The Persian numbers stand in opposition to that, not alone, they are lots of other testimonies in history about enormous armies beaten by a small one, but in my opinion, based on years of research, they are totally false.

But the Persians were not storing their food on boats, merely transporting it. The very existence of Athens in the classical period, where something like over half of its 300,000+ population was dependant upon imported food (and the related market for luxury food items) demonstrate that long distance transport of food was viable.

The Persian King faced basically no financial hurdles; and he had spent 4 years amassing supplies and supply building depots right up to and including Thessaly. Herodotus at (and around) 7.20, 7.22-3, and 7.25-6 provides an impressive list of Persian preparations. The Persians may not have had a good feel for the capability of motivated heavy infantry, but they were quit good at logistics. What substantial leap in technology was outside the Persians grasp that that suddenly occurred in the seventeenth century?

In particular:

Aryaman2

Quote: Nature of Persian army (This is main Delbruck theory, besides logistics) The size of the Persian empire has nothing to do with his army, that was a "feudal" army composed by the noble persians and their retainers, together with some non Persian vassal lords and their retainers. The basic component was cavalry, so it must be a small army by nature

Why must a cavalry army be small?
Paul Klos

\'One day when I fly with my hands -
up down the sky,
like a bird\'
Reply
#18
Well, do we have any later historical incidences where large armies moved from the north into Greece? Ottoman armies perhaps?
Stefan (Literary references to the discussed topics are always appreciated.)
Reply
#19
Quote:Well, do we have any later historical incidences where large armies moved from the north into Greece? Ottoman armies perhaps?
That is another western myth, Ottoman conquering armies were in fact quite small, fortunately we are not dependant only on literary sources here, we have also pay rolls.
AKA Inaki
Reply
#20
"The Persians may not have had a good feel for the capability of motivated heavy infantry, but they were quit good at logistics"
So good as to supply an army of 1.700.000 you mean?

"What substantial leap in technology was outside the Persians grasp that that suddenly occurred in the seventeenth century?"
It was outside XVI century European powers as well, and it was not just one new technology, but rather a combination of factors. We can appreciate it because we have accurate numbers for armies before and after that period, something we don´t have for ancient armies.

Why must a cavalry army be small? Well, here small is a relative term, small in comparison to infantry based armies of contemporary periods and similar technology. Persian horsemen were noblemen and their retainers, the upper class of its society. Besides a cavalry based army has higher logistic requirements logically.

The big problem with this campaign is that we have only the Greek version, it is like the Swiss wars findings that shocked Delbruck in his time, before historians had only the stories of poor brave swiss fighting for their freedom against the hordes of Charles the Bold, then the Burgundian archives were found and the truth revealed that the "Burgundian hordes" were in fact outnumbered by the Swiss. We are still waiting for the Persian side of the story.
AKA Inaki
Reply
#21
I'll avoid getting into the debate over specific numbers (I thought that some of the posts above implied support for figures over a million, but was mistaken). In my opinion the current scholarly debate is over the range 100,000 to 500,000 people entering Greeece from Persia, and will probably never be resolved much more closely than that.

Quote:The Persians may not have had a good feel for the capability of motivated heavy infantry, but they were quit good at logistics. What substantial leap in technology was outside the Persians grasp that that suddenly occurred in the seventeenth century?
17th century states had better harnesses, new crops, more efficient bureaucracies, and smaller, more practical territories. At that their field armies were normally in the tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands. However, they had no ancient tradition of organizing large states and armies. Persian logistics were well organized, but inefficient: important Persians could bring along wives and concubunes in wagons, along with other conveniences. Herodotus likes the term "yoke-animals" in describing the invasion. Seaborne transport would have helped a great deal, on the other hand.

Quote:Why must a cavalry army be small?
It musn't, necessarily, but cavalry forces do tend that way. A horse eats three times as much grain as a human, or needs lots of good fodder in the case of a herd of steppe ponies. Cavalry also tend to require good pay or servants, so are expensive in general to support. Thus, if there are supply problems, you can support four infantry or one cavalryman.

Edit: Other thoughts- we have well attested Persian armies of 50,000-100,000 soldiers (by comparing roughly known Hellenic strengths at Cunaxa and Alexander's battles with how much the enemy appear to have outnumbered them). We know Hellenistic kings could raise similar forces. These armies had to be supplied by land, had a smaller recruiting base, and were not the product of years of careful preparation for a great expedition. The Achaemenid army was mostly infantry, based on conscription and land held in exchange for military service, and indeed was infantry-based at this period.
Nullis in verba

I have not checked this forum frequently since 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value. I now have a blog on books, swords, and the curious things humans do with them.
Reply
#22
The Persian empire could hire infantry in a mannner similar to the Roman foideratoi of the later times.
Pissidians, Lykians, Carians. Paflagonians and other hillmen could be induced to serve for pay or for loot. Persians made use of subject infantry levies also. So it was not entirely cavalry force. You need infantry to hold and occupy ground.
As for supplies most people think only of grain.
But Balkan farners knew that a pork meat in clay pot preserved with salt and its own fat could last up to a year. Causettes stuffed with carrot purret for example, closed in a clay pot in oil can also stay up to a year. I am sure that Asian farmers had their similar ways of food storage too. The biggest problem would be men dying from scurvy, from the preserved foof they were forced to eat. Also Persians and other civilized Asiatic continents would abide by some hygiene standarts but the multitude of barbarians part of the Persian army probaly wouldn´t.
The average Greek comonwealth could raise 10000 hoplites and probably an equivalent number of lighter troops. Diplomatic tradition and info collection was organized in the Mediteranean from the Bronze age.
I cannot belive that the High King's delegates failed to inform him of peoples, places and resources. If the Greeks could raise 100.000 troops in a last ditch defence then at least double that number would be required for an attacker.

Kind regards
Reply
#23
I'm not saying I think it was 5,000,000, but it certainly could have been alot. And I'm right about my calculation. Mind it was for volume not area. Considering that humans can't be stacked then perhaps area would have been a better choice. Still, the 2x2 square being kept, it's only an area 29 miles on a side. (for 6 billion people)

If you take the same math, shoulder to shoulder the rediculously huge army of 5,000,000 takes less than one square mile of surface area. With enough of those triple stacked ships (I know greeks had three levels, I'm unfamiliar with the persians) I could see haveing well over a sqaure mile of floor space on a fleet.

My math, less I be flawed:
People: 2' x 2' = 4', 4' x 5,000,000 = 20 million ft squared. (72% mile)
A mile: 5,280' x 5,280' = 27.88 million ft. squared.

*5,000,000 people could *fit* in an area that was .72 square miles.

My little point is that the fleet size isn't as much of an obstacle as one might think. But I'm not sure how long of a voyage you could make stacked shoulder to shoulder though. Anyone no how long it sould take to get from Thessaly to Salamis? Any good guesses? Also I'm not sure a regular ship could support that much weight. Then maybe they made alterations or special ships for this? The greeks certainly did.
Reply
#24
No No No. I belive everything above 300000 was not sustainable by the reources of the time. We are not sure even for that.
Millions is a gross exageration.
The only way to sustain them would be the earlier savage campaign in Thrace where the Persians razed many cities to the ground, enslaved the inhabitants and problay forced the people to amass and store the food, indifferent of the slaves dying from starvation so that the army could eat.
Based on Bronze Age Pylos Tablets a pentikontoros (50 oars) could make the voyage from Pylos to Iolkos Thessaly in 10 days appoximately taking the "coastal" root.

Kind regards
Reply
#25
Quote: If the Greeks could raise 100.000 troops in a last ditch defence then at least double that number would be required for an attacker.

Kind regards
I doubt they really could raise that number, because for that number we have only 2 sources
1) Literary sources, which are totally unreliable
2) Archaeological lucubrations, that are debatable.

Besides all that, it is not the same to raise an army at home to fight there, or to raise an army and send it through enemy territory. as an example, the Army of Flanders in 1600 had about 65.000 men, but only 10.000 could be mobilized for a field army in campaign.
AKA Inaki
Reply
#26
Quote: However, they had no ancient tradition of organizing large states and armies. Persian logistics were well organized, but inefficient: important Persians could bring along wives and concubunes in wagons, along with other conveniences. Edit: Other thoughts- we have well attested Persian armies of 50,000-100,000 soldiers (by comparing roughly known Hellenic strengths at Cunaxa and Alexander's battles with how much the enemy appear to have outnumbered them). We know Hellenistic kings could raise similar forces. These armies had to be supplied by land, had a smaller recruiting base, and were not the product of years of careful preparation for a great expedition. The Achaemenid army was mostly infantry, based on conscription and land held in exchange for military service, and indeed was infantry-based at this period.
Two points here
1) The size of armies in ancient times is always based on literary sources, and they are always unreliable, they are always inflated. The only figures you can have some confidence on it is that given by military authors on their own forces, fo example the 22.000 Caesar said he had at Pharsalos (But I didn´t believe the 45.000+ he said Pompeius had)
2) The evidence of Persian inneficient logistics, when compared to the much more efficient Macedonian, can only give place to a logical conclusion Engels refused to see, Persian armies were smaller than those of Alexander
AKA Inaki
Reply
#27
Quote:Literary sources, which are totally unreliable
The size of armies in ancient times is always based on literary sources, and they are always unreliable, they are always inflated.
What on earth brings you to that conclusion? Totally unreliable? Then wtf are we all doing here?
Quote:The evidence of Persian inneficient logistics, when compared to the much more efficient Macedonian
Oh? What makes you think that? Where do you base that on?
Oh right - literary sources. Oh! But! Weren't these totally unreliable? Big Grin

Inaki, the Persian Empire was a vast affair that lasted for centuries, on of the reasons being that it did not support its armies with inefficient logistics. But please tell me why you think that Macedonian logistics were much more efficient.
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
Reply
#28
Quote:
Aryaman2:1qkwk88b Wrote:Literary sources, which are totally unreliable
The size of armies in ancient times is always based on literary sources, and they are always unreliable, they are always inflated.
What on earth brings you to that conclusion? Totally unreliable? Then wtf are we all doing here?
Quote:The evidence of Persian inneficient logistics, when compared to the much more efficient Macedonian
Oh? What makes you think that? Where do you base that on?
Oh right - literary sources. Oh! But! Weren't these totally unreliable? Big Grin

Inaki, the Persian Empire was a vast affair that lasted for centuries, on of the reasons being that it did not support its armies with inefficient logistics. But please tell me why you think that Macedonian logistics were much more efficient.
Easy, easy... Smile
When I say literary sources are totally unreliable I only apply that to the figures given by those sources for armies. My conclusion for that is based on 2 facts
1) whenever I find a literary sourceand a documentary one (muster and pay rolls) for the size of an army, the literary source has given a grossly inflated figure. I could give you a good number of examples from medieval times and later, unfortunately we don´t have that level of documentary sources for Ancient times
2) From documentary sources you get a a solid frame. Field armies in the XIV and XV centuries were 5.000-10.000 strong. They get a little larger in the XVI century, by the 30YW they around 15.000-20.000, and then the military revolution of the second half of the XVII century dramatically increase their size, to a maximum record 110.000 under Marlborough command in Malplaquet (only achievable in the Low Countries, armies fighting in Spain at that time, for instance, were 25.000-30.000 at most).

Against this frame, fables about armies 1 million strong, or even 300.000 are just not realistic.

About the macedonian army comparative efficency, it is stated by Donald Engels in his book over the logistics of Alexander campaigns. I don´t remember the sources, but he claims that while there was a least 1 servant for every Persian warrior, there was 1 in 7 for the Macedonian army, and while I don´t think the number in itself be reliable, the general pattern of an army carrying a much lighter baggage is.
AKA Inaki
Reply
#29
Quote:When I say literary sources are totally unreliable I only apply that to the figures given by those sources for armies.
Ah, that's a lot better. Maybe say so in future, eh? But still I have issues with that word 'totally'. :x

Quote:1) whenever I find a literary source and a documentary one (muster and pay rolls) for the size of an army, the literary source has given a grossly inflated figure. I could give you a good number of examples from medieval times and later, unfortunately we don´t have that level of documentary sources for Ancient times
You mean a poet? For I strongly deny that a chronist or a historian as a rule grossly inflates army size. That's just not true. For instance, Ammianus, Zosimus, Procopius - there's differences in their estimates, but claims that they all grossly inflated army sizes is just bullocks. Again, many may have at some point in history, but that does not warrant wild claims like yours.
Yes, I'm a historian and such wild claims bother me. :x

Quote:Against this frame, fables about armies 1 million strong, or even 300.000 are just not realistic.
A million, agreed. But 300.000, it's been done more than once. Take the armies of Constantine and Licinius.

Quote:About the macedonian army comparative efficency, it is stated by Donald Engels in his book over the logistics of Alexander campaigns. I don´t remember the sources, but he claims that while there was a least 1 servant for every Persian warrior, there was 1 in 7 for the Macedonian army, and while I don´t think the number in itself be reliable, the general pattern of an army carrying a much lighter baggage is.
Well, does that make the logistics inefficient? Did the Persians starve? Remember, we're talking logistics, not army speed or tactics like that. For the Persians to be able to feed these large numbers, their logistics must have been vastly superior! Well, maybe not vastly superior, but by no means inefficient.
Also, the Persians fought inside their own Empire, meaning they had the possibility to draw directly from their resources. the Macedonians were the invaders and did not have that luxury.
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
Reply
#30
I'm not quite rock solid on this concept, so allow me to pose it as a question: How much more logistically effeicient would a industrial age war be than an ancient war in the mediteranean?

Agreeably at least somewhat, but I doubt it's as dramatic as it seems. 10 days to move supplies from storage to front lines isn't bad at all. An ancient army would be much less concerned with constant ammunition problems, and most likely wouldn't support their wounded nearly as well. Dried foods and grains really don't get much smaller, even today meals don't take up all that much less space. Again I'd mentiong that the Persians are a desert people who were highly mobile to begin with. Hand tools and repair supplies would have probably changed very little as well I imagine. I really fail to see how industrial technology would have greatly aided the situation.

I'm not saying it would be 'as easy' as an industrial age campaign, I just don't see what technology would have made their campaign much faster, other than better boats. Remember waging war over water would be costly, but would make supplieing and army much simpler than using roads. Especially since they had so much practice fighting these kinds of war and using these specific weapons. An industrial age army had many problems to hammer out because of oversights that seem obvious to modern military command, just because of the rapid change in over all tactics. The Persians were using the same basic weapons they'de had for some very long times, they would know *exactly* how much their army would need to run.

And for what it's worth, I agree with Stefanos, 3,000,000 seems like the top limit to me. Big Grin
Reply


Forum Jump: