The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by delos13 »

OMG, I am so embarrassed. I didn't realize there is no year and automatically presumed it's going to happen in 2014. But now I checked the calendar and saw it was in the 2013 (Wednesday), so it already happen. And no, I don't have a paper.... :(
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Xenophon »

It occurs to me that something I've taken for granted - why you would never take heavy loads overland if the sea was an option - may not be fully appreciated. Since a trireme's load is pretty fixed - you dare not overload it because there is not much freeboard to the Thalamian/lower bank of oars, it is easy to estimate. Taking out two-thirds of the rowers gives a load capacity a little over ten tons ( of 2,240 lbs) per trireme. We know that more than 20 triremes were utilised, according to Diodorus - let us say 25 as a conservative figure. This means the siege machinery weighed of the order of 250 tons or so in round figures.

Now, Xenophon tells us that an ox-cart could carry 25 Talents/1,450 lbs. We also know that oxen plodded along at 2 mph, until exhausted after 5 hrs or so i.e. ten miles per day typically. Thus 3 ox-carts could carry broadly 2 tons, and the siege train would require 375 ox-carts - more because the loads wouldn't fit exactly, weight-wise. A conservative figure would be 400 ox carts aprox, maybe more, which would have to be rounded up locally together with 800-1,000 oxen ( allowing some spares).

The march from Miletus to Halicarnassus via Mylasa is approximately 70 miles, about 4 days march for Alexander's army, and 7 days march ( more in mountainous terrain) for the hypothetical overland siege train, in a convoy over 2 miles long ( in single file), or a mile or so if the road was wide enough for two abreast ( unlikely on a mountainous road ) Each ox has a daily food requirement of around 15 lbs of hay, and 15-20 lbs of grain/mash - a daily total of 6-7 tons aprox, 40-50 tons for the whole march - not to mention daily water requirements.....

Then there's a need for an escort, and food, forage and water for the men...........

These figures are approximate estimates, but they do give a good idea of the effort necessary.

I'm sure that by now the reader, as a hypothetical Alexander, will realise that a siege train transported by sea, on a half day voyage, as opposed to a week or so overland, with next to no logistic requirements by comparison to overland is the way to go, every time if possible ! 8)

No surprise then, that when disbanding his fleet, Alexander retained the Athenian squadron, both as hostages, and to transport the siege train. A detail recorded in Diodorus' sources, but overlooked in Arrian's.......
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by agesilaos »

Ah, double-think is alive and kicking! Your method is terminally flawed; you deprive your putative fleet of 2/3rds of its motive power, despite speed being a consideration, and then proceed to compute the notional load this would free, ignoring the structural restrictions, removing the rowers does not yield a clear hold but a forest of struts and benches the only space for the longer beams would be the central well, or rather about half of it as the main mast is going to obtruct it. But even then Diodoros says that provisions were also transported so you would have to guess at the relative proportions, grain is not well suited to transport on triereis either, the hold is also the bilges so most of the cargo is going to be spoiled. so the figure you have arrived at is bogus.

There are better approaches, we are fairly well informed on how ancient artillery was constructed, manuals exist, although they are not available in the common translations (being technical in the extreme the commentary is much longer than the tracts). Derivative works, Marsden or is it Adcock wrote a book on 'Greek and Roman Artillery' which I do not possess, but therein there will be the dimensions from which the weight of the individual parts may be calculated. As to the number of engines, we know that they overthrew two curtain walls and a tower, that distance should be measurable, due to excavations at Halikarnassos. I have faith in such an analysis yeilding less daunting results, after all Alexander took his siege train to India without the aid of a fleet over real mountains, the route from Miletos seems to follow river valleys to me.
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by agesilaos »

Some preliminary calculations would indicate that only the long wooden launcher would need carrying by cart and even that could be slung between two teams of pack animals,for a 30 mina engine (probably the size of Alexander's) this piece is 17.5 ft by 2.5ft by 2.5 ft, white pine weighs 30lbs per cubic foot so this would weigh 3280 lbs, 16 mules could carry the weight, but would not get round it; if Alexander had ox drawn carts, and his rate of march militates against it, four could pull it with ease, each can pull 1000 lbs, by simply changing teams their march can be extended beyond ten miles a day, three three hour shifts would keep up with main body, they would have to set off first and arrive last but they could be escorted all the way.

What of numbers, well a Roman legion of 4,000 would have ten stone throwing engines (onagers) according to Vegetius, on which ratio Alexander could have 30 on the basis of the Macedonian foot present; looking at the map with scale there is a nice straight bit of wall by the Mylasa Gate about 200m long each engine would be about 2.5 metres wide but they would not be set up touching and room must be allowed for the attested siege towers, if we say 5m per machine we arrive at 40 engines. that translate into 40 carts and only 480 oxen, less if the teams rotated, and if the teams were mules, as in the case of that monstrous funeral carriage matters are even less complicated. :D
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Nicator »

Nicator concedes to Xenophon's perspicuous detail. Nice job. And thanks for that methodical rendering. :lol:
Later Nicator

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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Xenophon »

agesilaos wrote:Ah, double-think is alive and kicking! Your method is terminally flawed; you deprive your putative fleet of 2/3rds of its motive power, despite speed being a consideration, and then proceed to compute the notional load this would free, ignoring the structural restrictions, removing the rowers does not yield a clear hold but a forest of struts and benches the only space for the longer beams would be the central well, or rather about half of it as the main mast is going to obtruct it. But even then Diodoros says that provisions were also transported so you would have to guess at the relative proportions, grain is not well suited to transport on triereis either, the hold is also the bilges so most of the cargo is going to be spoiled. so the figure you have arrived at is bogus.
It was you who pointed out, quite correctly, that in order to carry cargo, a trireme would lose two-thirds of it's rowers - so that hoplites, horses or siege machinery could take their place. I shan't give a lecture on marine technology here, but suffice to say that any displacement vessel's top speed is governed by it's waterline length, not available power. As I believe I've mentioned, even a fully crewed trireme undertook long journeys with only one bank of oars in use at a time at a time - and could routinely cover 120 plus miles per day, at a speed of 7.5 knots ( as opposed to a top speed of 11-12 knots, with all 3 banks working.)

In any event, if you read my earlier post fully, you would realise that the journey from Miletus was more or less dead downwind, and the voyage would have almost certainly been carried out under sail, at a speed of up to a maximum of 11 knots, but even if not, a single bank of oars would produce a speed of 6-7 knots.

Your comment about the interior 'webbing' of an 'aphract'/open trireme might be appropriate to a trireme of 480 BC, but by Alexander's day, Athenian triremes were 'cataphract' lit: closed in , meaning decked right across and had been since 467 BC [Plutarch Life of Cimon XII.2], hence plenty of space for cargo. The important thing about weight is that the waterline must be the same, whether functioning as a warship or transport. Too high/light and the oars cant' reach the water properly; too low/heavy and the thalamian/lowest oar-ports are swamped....

Therefore the cargo must have a quite specific weight, broadly as per my calculation.

You are quite correct that grain cannot be carried in triremes, in fact it must be carried in special merchant ship "grain carriers", as Diodorus' readers would well know..( even today grain is carried in specialist bulk grain carriers).

My reasoning is not 'bogus', it is based on knowledge of how boats work, and in particular ancient oared ships. It is your reasoning, with its specious talk of 'structural restrictions', and incorrect assumptions about the sort of triremes in use, and so on, that is "terminally flawed."
There are better approaches, we are fairly well informed on how ancient artillery was constructed, manuals exist, although they are not available in the common translations (being technical in the extreme the commentary is much longer than the tracts). Derivative works, Marsden or is it Adcock wrote a book on 'Greek and Roman Artillery' which I do not possess, but therein there will be the dimensions from which the weight of the individual parts may be calculated. As to the number of engines, we know that they overthrew two curtain walls and a tower, that distance should be measurable, due to excavations at Halikarnassos. I have faith in such an analysis yeilding less daunting results, after all Alexander took his siege train to India without the aid of a fleet over real mountains, the route from Miletos seems to follow river valleys to me.
There are many books and articles about ancient artillery, though the main modern pioneer is E.W. Marsden "Greek and Roman Artillery" in two volumes, Oxford University press 1969 ( which is when I acquired mine !! ). Torsion artillery ( as opposed to the giant crossbow variety) was a new development, coming probably late in the reign of Philip. The new-fangled torsion artillery was much more powerful than the old crossbow type, and led to Alexander being acknowledged as a highly successful besieger. From calculations and reconstructions we can indeed get a good idea of the weight of catapults.
Knowing the length of wall reduced to rubble tells you nothing about numbers of machines - it might be just one working its way along, a couple, or a dozen. In any event, you misunderstand if you think it was catapults which brought down the walls- even the new torsion machines were not that powerful yet, though they might weaken a wall by cracking its fascia. What they could do was strip a wall or tower of its battlements, and leaving defenders cover-less, and defending the wall suicidal. Rapid covering fire could be provided by siege towers. The undefended section of wall could then be undermined by digging or smashed down by rams. This would occur at Halicarnassus, as we shall come to in due course in our examination of the two accounts.
[ It would not be until the career of Demetrius Poliorcetes that we hear of huge 1 Talent machines capable of 'shaking walls' and even knocking down 'weak and low' ones. He even succeeded in bringing down a curtain wall, towers and all with his 1 Talent machines in a bombardment of eight days, apparently without the aid of rams.]

Since we don't know how many machines Alexander had in his siege train at this time, or of what types - there were siege towers and rams as well as catapults, and protective sheds also - it is impossible to use such a method as you suggest - such a method would be pure speculation, whereas mine at least has the merit of starting from a 'known' figure - the carrying capacity of 20-25 triremes.

We also don't know the size of the siege train Alexander took to India. The walls there were largely mud-brick and presented fewer problems than those of the west - designed to defend against rams and crossbow-type catapults and made of packed earth with stone faces, or even entirely of stone. We don't hear of siege towers, rams or other large equipment in India - undermining and scaling ladders seem to have been the norm, and perhaps only the lighter catapults were taken.....
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Xenophon »

agesilaos wrote:Some preliminary calculations would indicate that only the long wooden launcher would need carrying by cart and even that could be slung between two teams of pack animals,for a 30 mina engine (probably the size of Alexander's) this piece is 17.5 ft by 2.5ft by 2.5 ft, white pine weighs 30lbs per cubic foot so this would weigh 3280 lbs, 16 mules could carry the weight, but would not get round it; if Alexander had ox drawn carts, and his rate of march militates against it, four could pull it with ease, each can pull 1000 lbs, by simply changing teams their march can be extended beyond ten miles a day, three three hour shifts would keep up with main body, they would have to set off first and arrive last but they could be escorted all the way.
This is incorrect, and speculative. The heaviest part of a 30 mina/half talent engine by far is the torsion frame, counter balanced by the long 'ladder' and 'slider' with its winch mechanism, which was not solid wood as you describe, at all.

Modern calculations and the construction of replicas show that the 30 mina/half talent/13 kg stone 'shot' engine you refer to weighed 3-4 metric tons, and the torsion ropes alone 330kg or more. For travel, the palintonon/stone thrower could easily be dismantled into the main components: the two torsion springs with their wooden frames, the long stock (table, ladder and slider) together with winch and pulley, and also the carriage.
What of numbers, well a Roman legion of 4,000 would have ten stone throwing engines (onagers) according to Vegetius, on which ratio Alexander could have 30 on the basis of the Macedonian foot present; looking at the map with scale there is a nice straight bit of wall by the Mylasa Gate about 200m long each engine would be about 2.5 metres wide but they would not be set up touching and room must be allowed for the attested siege towers, if we say 5m per machine we arrive at 40 engines. that translate into 40 carts and only 480 oxen, less if the teams rotated, and if the teams were mules, as in the case of that monstrous funeral carriage matters are even less complicated. :D
First I don't think you can draw any valid comparisons between the 'field artillery' of a Roman Legion and Alexander's 'siege artillery'. But never mind, let us play with your (incorrect) assumptions. You are going to need rather more carts than you think, for a start. Given a weight of 3-4 metric tonnes (6,612- 8,816 lbs), and the breakdown of the machine into four main components, you are going to need at least 4-5 ox-carts [ see Xenophon the Athenian's load figure above] per catapult, or 160-200 ox carts for your hypothetical 40 catapults.

Although you mentioned siege towers ( but not rams or the sheds, or the thousands of digging tools, or carriage of the catapults ammuniton), you made no allowance for the carriage of all this paraphernalia as well as the catapults.
We don't know how many, or what size, siege towers Alexander had but typically they might weigh 60 to 120 tons..

Your catapults weigh a total of around 300,000 lbs roughly 134 tons, add in a couple of small siege towers or one larger one, 120 tons, and you are already up to the 250 tons I estimated, not including rams, sheds, ammunition for the catapults, digging tools etc.....one would conclude that Alexander had nowhere near 40 x 30 mina machines. (Many of his catapults were probably smaller and included arrow shooters, for example )

We don't know the breakdown of Alexander's 'siege train' equipment so calculations such as Agesilaos' ones based on sheer guesses simply don't work. Even so, one can see from his post that bringing the siege train overland was still a heck of a lot slower and more complicated than shipping it by sea, and in his scheme uses a lot more animal power per machine than mine !

All we really can deduce is that the carrying capacity of Diodorus' 20 plus triremes, of 250 tons or so, seems of the right order of magnitude for a large siege train of a siege tower or two, say half-a-dozen large catapults and rather more smaller ones, a ram or two and the sheds we hear of... plus tools, ammunition etc ( and before someone says it, yes it could be carved on site, but only if the right sort of stone was present ).

We can further say that shipping it is far easier and faster than transporting it overland.

Now then, gentle readers, guess how Alexander moved his siege train from Tyre to Gaza? Yep.....by sea!
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

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And who, gentle readers controlled the sea the fall of Tyre, mmmh that's right Alexander!

I was merely positing the maximum number of catapults, I agree that most of the work was actually mining, you beat me to the post; you consistently fail to allow for the dismantling off the engines to allow for transport of most parts on mule back, the smaller bolt shooters weighed only about 85 lbs complete, sheds and towers would largly be built on site probably from local materials, Alexander was not dragging a lumber yard across Asia. Nor, I think can triereis have cargo piled upon their decks without them capsizing, I have not read that cataphract triereis were hollow, they required the same bench structure and presumably the same supports, and being cataphract the hold area would only be accessed by hatches further complicating the stowage of large wooden members.

Basically, triereis make lousy transports (they were not modified when carrying hoplites, though the soldiers merely took the place of the rowers on the benches nor was it idleness that prevented them takng up an oar , rowing a trieres was a skilled job which required practice), and that is what Diodoros says Alexander used nor were they escorts for a merchant fleet, as Engels seems to imagine; he has them sailing passed Halikarnassos with its 300 Persian ships and the Persians ignoring it (this is indicative of the problems of sythetic reading of the sources). Since you agree that the provisions claimed to have been sent by sea cannot have been is it such a leap to reject a tale of the micro fleet braving the sea in face of 300 Persian vessels?

I would posit that Diodoros or his source has absorbed the note that Alexander had retained the crews of ten triereis at Miletos while the rest were out gathering firewood, and garbled it into Alexander retaining a number of ships when the fleet was disbanded; Kleitarchos could easily have added the detail of the Athenian contingent and modified the number (his work seems to have a particular interest in things Greek and their worth), the reason, supply and transport could even be Diodoros' own rationalisation, cod analysis is a stock in trade.

Onto the siege...
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by agesilaos »

The maps all show the Macedonian camp by the Mylasa Gate and the demi-lune by the Tripylon, were the breach there it seems odd that the Macedonians (22 i) would consider it ‘the last place to expect a sally’.

Before making a hideous error does anyone know if there is archaeological evidence for the demi-lune? The Victorian excavation report I have read suggests not, and a different position for the Tripylon. There has been more recent work by the Danes, but I have not found any reports online.

I’m sure we can continue our naval differences, for a while, though be warned I am going to broach the commissariat aspect next :?
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Xenophon »

agesilaos wrote:And who, gentle readers controlled the sea [after]the fall of Tyre, mmmh that's right Alexander!
...and as I have pointed out more than once, the Persian fleet in Halicarnassus was in no position to interfere with Alexander's flotilla - even if it knew the date and time of departure ( which it could not of course - by the time a messenger/spy reached Halicarnassus from Miletus, the siege train would have safely arrived in Bargylis ).

Curiously, your position seems to be to try and allege (incorrectly) that the siege train could not have been transported by sea, yet you evidently accept that it was transported by sea from Tyre to Gaza ??
I was merely positing the maximum number of catapults, I agree that most of the work was actually mining, you beat me to the post; you consistently fail to allow for the dismantling off the engines to allow for transport of most parts on mule back, the smaller bolt shooters weighed only about 85 lbs complete, sheds and towers would largly be built on site probably from local materials, Alexander was not dragging a lumber yard across Asia.
A mule can carry up to 300 lbs, but its 'normal' load, certainly in 20th C armies is more like 150-200 lbs. ( we discussed this in the 'Nora' thread ). In passing it might be noted that even the small arrow-shooters on Trajan's column are pulled along in two-mule drawn carts, probably so as not to have to dismantle them. You certainly couldn't transport any of the 4 major components of the 30 mina stonethrower this way.

A siege tower of Alexander's day stood around 90 ft tall, and 4 timbers this long would be required for the uprights ( or conceivably 8 45 ft timbers, carefully scarf jointed to make the 4 uprights), and of course could not be 'green' wood. It is therefore likely that it would be easier to bring these and the rest of the frame, even if local materials could be used to finish it. Pre-fabricated sheds, or at least the frames, too would be easier than building from scratch, even if suitable timbers could be taken from demolished buildings etc. Local materials could certainly be used to make the wickerwork covers of these sheds.
Nor, I think can triereis have cargo piled upon their decks without them capsizing, I have not read that cataphract triereis were hollow, they required the same bench structure and presumably the same supports, and being cataphract the hold area would only be accessed by hatches further complicating the stowage of large wooden members.
Still trying to make a case that the siege train couldn't be transported on triremes ? Even though you accept that the siege train went by sea to Gaza ? Or are you going to try and wriggle through the loophole that Arrian doesn't say what kind of ships were used ? :lol: :lol:
Certainly having a cargo on deck would raise the metacentre of the vessel, but not so much as to imperil stability. Remember these ships could not go to sea in waves of more than one metre anyway. A trireme in warship mode carried a deck crew of up to 30 men, and 40 marines as well, a deck weight of over 5 tons, which moved around the ship and could, for example, be almost all on one side of the ship defending it. A cargo of 10 tons, spread evenly over the deck, and relatively flat is going to be less de-stabilising than the normal deck crew and marines....
Basically, triereis make lousy transports (they were not modified when carrying hoplites, though the soldiers merely took the place of the rowers on the benches nor was it idleness that prevented them takng up an oar , rowing a trieres was a skilled job which required practice), and that is what Diodoros says Alexander used.....
As the pseudo-Xenophon ( 'Old Oligarch') tells us in 'Ath pol' I.19, practically everyone in Athens, including Hoplites AND their servants could row : "....Many are able to row as soon as they board their ships,[ i.e. ostensibly as passengers] since they have been practising beforehand throughout their whole lives."
...nor were they escorts for a merchant fleet, as Engels seems to imagine; he has them sailing passed Halikarnassos with its 300 Persian ships and the Persians ignoring it (this is indicative of the problems of sythetic reading of the sources). Since you agree that the provisions claimed to have been sent by sea cannot have been is it such a leap to reject a tale of the micro fleet braving the sea in face of 300 Persian vessels?
I'd agree with you that Engels idea is naive to say the least. Alexander was not going to put his flotilla and siege train anywhere within reach of the Persian fleet.
I did not say that the provisions did not go by sea, rather that the grain, unlike the siege train, could not have been transported in triremes - grain required specialised merchantmen, which must have been present . [ Very often merchant auxiliary vessels which served the fleets go unmentioned in our sources]

Again, for the "nth" time, at no time was Alexander's flotilla at risk of encountering the Persian fleet, for the reasons set earlier - several times! Geography and time, not to mention weather, made any interception impossible. To all intents and purposes, Alexander had 'mastery' of the gulf long enough to safely transport his siege train....
I would posit that Diodoros or his source has absorbed the note that Alexander had retained the crews of ten triereis at Miletos while the rest were out gathering firewood, and garbled it into Alexander retaining a number of ships when the fleet was disbanded; Kleitarchos could easily have added the detail of the Athenian contingent and modified the number (his work seems to have a particular interest in things Greek and their worth), the reason, supply and transport could even be Diodoros' own rationalisation, cod analysis is a stock in trade.
What happened to "Paralus' Rule" ? :wink: This is something completely unsupported by any evidence, and essentially invented to circumvent the fact Diodorus tells us straight out that the siege train was transported by sea on something over 20 plus triremes.

And to get back to the theme of my argument, the accounts of Arrian and Diodorus are not irreconcilable. Diodorus' sources happen to mention the transportation of the siege train, and Diodorus includes it, while Arrian and/or his sources don't think the detail worth mentioning.
Onto the siege...
Yes, indeed, and here you might be on stronger ground for an anomaly ! But one last detail regarding the siege train. Initially, when Alexander arrives, sets up camp and attacks the East side by the Mylasa gate, no siege machinery is mentioned ( it has yet to arrive). When it does come, probably down the road leading from Bargylis, arriving outside the Tripylon gate, it is deployed against the walls there on the NW side - the 'demi-lune' on the first map marks Memnon's 'counter wall' sealing off the breach.
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Paralus »

I must say that this is a riveting discussion. Dimensions of triremes, speeds, carrying capacities, wieghts and lengths of siege equipment and their constituent parts. A veritable theme park for supply chain enthusiasts, though I think most readers are not such.
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agesilaos wrote: A mule can carry up to 300 lbs, but its 'normal' load, certainly in 20th C armies is more like 150-200 lbs.
Would that be a Lybian mule or a European mule? I'm not certain that the African mule is migratory in any case....

Personally I do not see any great problem with Alexander floating his siege equipment to Haikarnassos. As far as Arrian is concerned Alexander disbanded the fleet because he didn't think he could defeat the Persians at sea. He retained (at a minimum) the Athenian ships and some others - according to Diodorus. Whilst not wanting (yet again??!!) to discuss word usage and meaning, the old Sicilian can, and does, use νεὼς to refer to craft other than warships and the telling usage would 17.116.5 where Alexander's 'skiff' (ἀκάτοις) is described as a 'warship' (νεὼς). We might also note the eighty prists who, at 50.6, carry the image of Ammon about in a 'boat' (νεὼς) which, I suppose, might be a model trireme. In any case, I don't think we need to be to particular with Diodorus and nothing precludes the possibility that Alexander retained transports along with the Athenian squadron.

I would also see Arrian 1.20.2, where Alexander captures "all the cities that lay between Miletus and Halicarnassus", as clearly implying the coastal cities (as well as those inland). This was, after all, Alexander's plan: to deny the Persians any anchorage - especially in his rear. Not to have done so will have reduced Alexander to acting in the same fashion as Demetrios would in 313: rushing about from coastal city to city as Ptolemy raided in 'naval blitzkreig'.

It is not, at the end of it, the most 'important' of the differences between the two accounts and, when all is said and done, Arrian does not even mention the transport of the siege equipment. Far more interesting material offers itself...
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Paralus »

agesilaos wrote:The maps all show the Macedonian camp by the Mylasa Gate and the demi-lune by the Tripylon, were the breach there it seems odd that the Macedonians (22 i) would consider it ‘the last place to expect a sally’.
That should rather be left until later. It is, to my mind, eminently logical captain.
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by agesilaos »

hal.jpg
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My problem here is that the area of the alleged breach is clearly atop a pretty steep slope on a mountain spur. What we are told about the site of the breach is that it was defended by a moat 45ft wide and 28 deep, which implies a greater depth of soil, the pictures of Bodrum indicate that the hills are practically bare rock. Also the description here does not only make it unlikely as a place to assault, but mentions no remains of the demi-lune instead making the semi-circle marked simply the line of the main wall
‘A History of Discoveries at Halicarnassus, Cnidus and Branchidae.’ Sir Charles Thomas Newton and Richard Popplewell Pullan. 1862, Vol 2 pt 1, Pp268-9

Around this curved shore the area of the ancient city is marked out very distinctly by its walls, which may be traced in unbroken continuity all round, except where they approach the sea-shore on the eastern side. It has already been remarked that the lines of these fortifications have been planned with great judgement in reference to the natural capability of the ground for defence; and here, as in other Greek cities, the apparent irregularity in the general outline has been caused by the endeavour to make best account of every point of vantage-ground.

There seems no reason to doubt the plan of these fortifications was designed by Mausolus, though, as Arrian states that Alexander razed Halicarnassus to the ground, it is possible that the walls themselves may be the work of a later period. The greater part of the masonry is polygonal, except on the west side, where isodomous masonry occurs. The materials employed are trachyte, limestone, and tufaceous stone. The gate on the west side, where the ancient road from Myndus entered the city, must have been one of the weakest parts of the line of defence, from the lowness of the level here. Hence this gate has been fortified with three large towers, still standing : one of which is set obliquely to the wall, for the purpose of more effectively commanding the approach (see Plate LXXIII) It was on this side that Alexander sought to find a weak place in the wall, and here he probably directed his real attack while he threatened the opposite side.

Passing from this gate in a north-eastern direction the wall turns at an obtuse angle on the side of a conical hill, on the summit of which it is carried round a platform, so as to form a small citadel. On this platform are the foundations of a building, running 35 [feet] east to west, by 27 [feet] from north to south, which Ross supposed to be the Temple of Mars, but the foundations are more like those of a watch-tower than of a temple. Close to this building is a large cistern. From the summit of the conical hill the wall descends into a valley, whence it bends away to the north-east over very rocky and precipitous ground, forming a salient, which seems to be the ‘akra’, or fortress, turned towards Mylasa, mentioned by Arrian (The approach to this part of the wall being very difficult of access, was probably less carefully guarded by the besieged. Arrian states that the two soldiers who entered the ‘akra’, were on a vantage-ground when attacked, ‘ex hyperoeziou tois polemiois he epidrome’ etc, as would be the case in this part of the walls.) The eastern wall of this salient runs in a southern direction along a lofty ridge, at the foot of which is a deep ravine, and the bed of a winter torrent. Thence, descending to a fertile level near the harbour, the line of the wall must have continued to the shore to the east of the Greek quarter. Nearly all trace of it here is lost, except at the spot marked ‘Large Blocks’ in the Plan; and perhaps near the church of Hagios Nikolas, where ‘massive foundations’ still remain.

It is probable that this part of the wall suffered much in the siege by Alexander, and in subsequent sieges, as, being the key to the isthmus, it would be a special object of attack; it has probably contributed much material to the building of the castle, and, from its proximity to the harbour, many stones from it may have been carried away in vessels.


I trust the illogicality of such a locality is now apparent, captain.

Yes, xenophon you do keep saying that the whole Persian fleet skulks in Halikarnassos, but no source does so such a supposition also fails 'Paralus' rule', to which I clearly, do not wholly subscribe; and yes Alexander used transport ships rather than warships to move his stores after Tyre, until he plunged into the heart of the Persian empire when they were once more broken down to be mule-mobile. Siege towers need not have uprights as long as their height; they would most likely be modular assembles with much shorter lengths. One build the first storey and uses that as a base upon which to build the second and so on each having a smaller floorplan than the last. Otherwise damage to the long timbers would knock out essential parts of any attack plan. Perhaps Marsden has something on this?
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Paralus »

The logicality applied to the sally from the Tripylon Gate.

You might wish to expound upon your difficulties. For a start, the location of the demi-lune on that map is incorrect (to my reading).
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Xenophon »

Paralus wrote:
I must say that this is a riveting discussion. Dimensions of triremes, speeds, carrying capacities, wieghts and lengths of siege equipment and their constituent parts. A veritable theme park for supply chain enthusiasts, though I think most readers are not such.

Xenophon wrote:
agesilaos wrote:
A mule can carry up to 300 lbs, but its 'normal' load, certainly in 20th C armies is more like 150-200 lbs.


Would that be a Lybian mule or a European mule? I'm not certain that the African mule is migratory in any case....
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Yes, very droll!...and to answer your question, a mule is a mule, is a mule.....
The importance of all that 'military trivia' is that it allows us to establish what is possible from what is not - and the probable from the improbable, not to mention that some people find the subject of interest itself, whilst finding pontificating about the motives of this or that character, for example, boring - because it is futile and unknowable....each to their own, eh ?

Agesilaos wrote:
The maps all show the Macedonian camp by the Mylasa Gate and the demi-lune by the Tripylon, were the breach there it seems odd that the Macedonians (22 i) would consider it ‘the last place to expect a sally’.

Before making a hideous error does anyone know if there is archaeological evidence for the demi-lune? The Victorian excavation report I have read suggests not, and a different position for the Tripylon. There has been more recent work by the Danes, but I have not found any reports online.
A very good point....I had assumed that the 'demi-lune' ( the interior wall built to back up the breach ) was located by reference to some remains of the breach. No remains of the back-up wall would show in the archaeological record, for it was built hastily ( so no proper foundations), and of bricks [Arrian I.21]...Diodorus too refers to this ("secondary walls" XVII.23 ), but seems to think there were several breaches, or at least that several sections of the walls came under attack. That is logical, for attack at a single point would allow the defenders to concentrate their efforts. All besiegers invariably use secondary attacks to spread defenders out, and disguise the main assault....
My problem here is that the area of the alleged breach is clearly atop a pretty steep slope on a mountain spur. What we are told about the site of the breach is that it was defended by a moat 45ft wide and 28 deep, which implies a greater depth of soil, the pictures of Bodrum indicate that the hills are practically bare rock. Also the description here does not only make it unlikely as a place to assault, but mentions no remains of the demi-lune instead making the semi-circle marked simply the line of the main wall
The problem with 'hachuring' to show the lie of the land is that it doesn't show gradients. A 'Google Earth' tour of the area shows it to be a low domed hill with gentle slopes.
Somebody evidently thought this was the site of the breach.....one wonders why ?
Yes, xenophon you do keep saying that the whole Persian fleet skulks in Halikarnassos, but no source does so such a supposition also fails 'Paralus' rule', to which I clearly, do not wholly subscribe; and yes Alexander used transport ships rather than warships to move his stores after Tyre, until he plunged into the heart of the Persian empire when they were once more broken down to be mule-mobile.
"skulks"?...such an emotive word! Memnon, the commander of the fleet [Arrian I.20] is at Halicarnassus, and so is the fleet : "the triremes also were moored in the harbour, so that the sailors might render him valuable aid in the operations." Diodorus too, after telling of Memnon's appointment as supreme commander, tells us the Persian forces were "concentrated...at Halicarnassus". Apart from anything else, where else along that coast could 60,000 sailors be fed and watered ?
Siege towers need not have uprights as long as their height; they would most likely be modular assembles with much shorter lengths. One build the first storey and uses that as a base upon which to build the second and so on each having a smaller floorplan than the last. Otherwise damage to the long timbers would knock out essential parts of any attack plan. Perhaps Marsden has something on this?
You are certainly right that a siege tower could be constructed storey by storey, but this is not what is inferred in Biton's construction of war machines.( referring back to Diades) He refers to the long members as being 9 x 9 ins at the bottom and 6 x 6 ins at the tops - i.e. single beams.

Before embarking on a discussion of just where the breach or breaches were located, haven't you 'skipped' a chapter, namely Alexander's abortive attack on Myndus? Or, like Diodorus, do you both pass over this episode in silence as unimportant ?
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