ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Paralus »

I must say that I'm enjoying this thread immensely! For those not interested in the nitty-gritty of ancient armies and their movements, this might seem boring. It should not be. Diodorus, in books 18-20, preserves many an army march, the numbers and make up and the distances traveled. As well, he provides many an astronomical marker to "time" them. These, of course, come from his source(s). I look forward to Agesilaos' examination.
Xenophon wrote:One of my pet hates is editors who emend texts without notice to the reader. Rather than thinking they know better, they should translate text 'as is' and footnote any textual 'flaws' they may perceive...grrrr..rrrr :evil:
I agree. Unless there is a demonstrable paleographic need to emend any text, it should be left as is. Emending any received text to suit one's opinion is worse than poor method: it is manipulative.
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by agesilaos »

One of the problems with testing the distances on modern maps is that the actual location of many sites is uncertain and if they appear on a map the location has likely been based on the cartographer's interpretation of Xenophon's distances! I'll sort out some other well located sites though, let it not be said I shy from insect abuse.

I like the idea of the standard march being 5 parasangs; extrapolating from the fact that parasang is really a measure of time it could make a five hour marching day for Persian forces. Philip, I am sure, was of the standard military opinion 'Train hard, fight easy.' Polyainos does not say these were extended exercises, though so may only have been for one day nor were the armies of the diadochoi composed solely of trained Macedonians.

Re the wastage of cavalry mounts, that is certainly a common occurance in French napoleonic armies, along with staying so long in the saddle that the enemy could smell the approach of the army from the thousands of suppurating saddle sores; Cyrus seems to have had a greater respect for his mounts, as you would expect; Xenophon would have mentioned horse casualties had they been significant I feel, he was a keen horseman witness his two monographs 'On Horsemanship' and 'The Cavalry General'. Likely Cyrus favoured the mounts with the fodder he had and the baggage animals suffered, though even then they do not seem to have all died.

We can all agree that unnoticed textual amendment is a hierophantic sin, apologies, but I have not stretched to Xenophon in Loeb, save the Minor Works which were unavailable elsewhere in the seventies when I got them for a birthday.

I have had a little play with the number of wagons/mules this army (based on 35,000 infantry and 3,500 cavalry and a Macedonian ratio of servants and camp followers) based on carrying supplies of grain and fodder for eight days, the reported difficulties came on a thirteen day march, a fifty fifty split would require c.200 wagons and 1,500 pack mules with the mules four abreast and the wagons two the whole column with men eight abreast comes in at 12 1/3 miles, not allowing for intervals. At 3 mph, probably a generous speed for the ox carts we know he had (they get stuck in the mud). I have an excel spreadsheet that sorts these figures out,crudely I'll send you and Para a copy, anyone else can PM me their e-mail and I'll send them one; it is fairly self explanatory, even if you doubt the bases upon which it is founded
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Xenophon »

Studying these march tables need not be boring, for we can sometimes gain an insight into other aspects. I wondered about those 3 days of 'double marches'/10 parasangs that some commentators so airily dismiss, and that Warner arbitrarily shortens. Rather, let us assume that Xenophon is correct. Why then, would Cyrus impose such a 'forced march' on his army ? There was no enemy army in the vicinity, nor any significant enemy city to surprise and capture.

The answer, I believe, lies in Cyrus' strategy. It is clear from the whole Anabasis that Cyrus was a meticulous planner.

Now I am not claiming to be able to mind-read at a distance of 2,500 years or so !However hindsight and knowledge of later events suggests a hypothesis. The various Greek contingents finally assembled at Celaenae, where Cyrus held a review and carefully counted them ( important to know how many you are paying! ).[I.2.9/p.60 Penguin]. Then the army marches for two days to Ceramonagora ( Tile, or Potters-market - see tables), and rests for 3 days, while the Greeks celebrate with games. Then for the next three days Cyrus carries out 'double'/10 parasang marches, across the Cayster plains to the city of Cayster-pedion ( Cayster-field). Why ? We know from the tables that Cyrus marched at a fairly steady pace generally, and then suddenly accelerated toward the end, despite being hampered by all the irrigation ditches and canals as he approached Babylon. His general march and its pace will have been observed by the Great King's troops, and hence his arrival calculated in advance. Cyrus intended to achieve a strategic surprise at the end by the classic tactic of "stealing a march", literally, on his foe and indeed succeeded, for Abrocomas with a quarter of the King's army were 5 days too late for the battle. But the plan would have fallen flat on its face if his army couldn't 'go up a gear' in its march pace. Whilst Cyrus will have had good knowledge of what his 'native' troops could do, the 'foreigners', with their heavy 'hopla'/arms were an unknown quantity ( and it doesn't matter here whether the arms were being carried by the hoplites or their servants). Could they keep up a 'forced march' pace, so essential to his strategic plan ?

I believe he tested them ( and his own troops) and must have been pleased with the result, that they were able to march double marches of 34.5 miles/55.5 km ( 10 parasangs) per day for 3 consecutive days, fully burdened.

An excellent rehearsal/practise for what he meant to do as he neared the end.
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Xenophon »

Agesilaos wrote:
I like the idea of the standard march being 5 parasangs; extrapolating from the fact that parasang is really a measure of time it could make a five hour marching day for Persian forces. Philip, I am sure, was of the standard military opinion 'Train hard, fight easy.' Polyainos does not say these were extended exercises, though so may only have been for one day nor were the armies of the diadochoi composed solely of trained Macedonians.]
Yes, indeed, it was pretty much standard practise among all ancient armies to rise at first light, quickly breakfast, then march all morning, then set up camp, and finally from mid-afternoon to disperse to forage for the all important water, firewood and forage for food for animals and men alike. The reference to Philip's Macedonians was simply to show that 35 miles per day was not an unrealistic day's march for burdened men - and I did point out that this was a 'training' march, carried out at a 'forced march' pace. We shall doubtless come in due course to the march distances of Alexander, and then the Diadochi......
Re the wastage of cavalry mounts, that is certainly a common occurrence in French Napoleonic armies, along with staying so long in the saddle that the enemy could smell the approach of the army from the thousands of suppurating saddle sores;
It was not just Napoleon who failed to look after his horses, for the French were just as bad in 1918, when it was noted by the British and Australians that every French horse at Damascus had a sore back and stank. This was because they carried a lot of kit, and although it was all neatly stowed, it made saddling and unsaddling a very laborious business, consequently they tended to remain saddled. One could give many, many examples of horse 'wastage' throughout military history. Another WW 1 statistic is that on the 'Western front', despite the cavalry playing little or no part either in fighting or long marches, the British cavalry lost 25% of its horses.
Certainly Cyrus, despite all due care, will have had significant horse losses to disease, foot damage - remembering they were not shod; even horses kicking one another, and other reasons, which will all have taken a steady toll - though doubtless 'remounts' were obtained by 'requisitioning. The problem throughout history is that remounts are untrained......

It will take me some time to digest your analysis of wagons and pack-mules etc.

Also, from your post you seem to be talking of a single column, when, as I mentioned earlier, multiple columns were the norm wherever possible.... with the infantry and cavalry moving either side ( the unshod cavalry, for one thing, could not move on a paved Persian road, or the horses would quickly acquire crippling injuries). Baggage animals too could move in multiple columns, with the only vehicles likely confined to the road being wheeled mule-carts. Nor is it likely that ox-pulled wagons were used by the army itself. A typical ancient army's supply train consisted of two parts, the pack animals and sometimes mule carts that carried an Army's immediate needs and accompanied it - several days rations, tents and necessary tools and equipment, and what may be termed the 'Supply Train', equipped with wagons/carts including large ox-drawn ones. ( see e.g. the Roman Army). The reason that actual armies themselves refrained from using oxen was simple - their march rate was a plodding 2 MPH. The word which Xenophon uses is 'achamus', which though translated as 'wagons' in both Loeb and Penguin, means 'waggoners' according to the lexicon, with 'achama' ( which Xenophon also uses elsewhere) meaning 'frame-work or chassis of a wagon/cart' to refer to actual wagons/carts. Furthermore, later in the anabasis when they run out of sheep to sacrifice, the Greeks resort to buying a 'bous-achama'(wagon ox/draught-ox), clearly implying the army had none of its own.[VI.4.22] Also, at [I.10] in the aftermath of Cunaxa, the Greeks lose all their property to pillage by the enemy AND ALSO the 400 wagons loaded with food etc , forming Cyrus' emergency supplies, which likely came from the 'Lydian market' which acted as the Army's Supply Train. That Xenophon is aware that ox-carts and wagons are a hindrance to an army is proved during the debate after the treacherous murder of their Generals, when Xenophon says: "I think we should burn up the [captured II.1.5] wagons which we have, so that our cattle may not be our captains...Secondly we should burn up our tents also .....Furthermore let us abandon all our other superfluous baggage."[III.2.27] The reference to cattle being their captains is that their pace would be dictated to that of plodding oxen. Thus the retreat of the Ten Thousand began without ox-pulled wagons.

Turning back to the Tables we can see this disparity between the Army ( without oxen, though it must have had mule drawn carts and pack animals - witness the same carrying Cyrus' army's arms and accoutrements at [I.7.20]) moving its 17-20 odd miles daily, and the rest days to allow the slower moving Lydian market ( the Supply Train), likely containing ox-drawn carts and wagons, to catch up.
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by agesilaos »

I always give the number of elements abreast in a single column since from there it is a simple matter to either divide by the number of columns in a parallel advance scenario or multiply if there are any constrictions en route. I am not convinced that the ancients commonly used a parallel approach, it certainly true that the armies of Alte Fritz shocked Europe with his parallel approach and revised deployment drills but there is little to suggest that even Alexander could perfom similar feats; the deployment at Gaugamela seems to have been perfomed, essentially, in two long columns issuing in battle order obliquely from camp; different from a route , however.

I am not too sure how far it would be practicable either, plains apart, in any broken terrain one risks defeat in detail or columns getting lost, no GPS then, though a system better than AppleMaps :D This would certainly be an area which might reward some research, it's trying to winkle the evidence from sources that are simply not interested in these matters, although I cannot recall Onasandros or Arrian's Ectaxis mentioning parallel approach. That said this is definitely a case where abscence of direct evidence is certainly not evidence of abscence. Hopefully something will come up in this, doubtless protracted study :lol: I refuse to get distracted into looking into it now though, let's get the raw data sorted first.

I was going to skip Alexander's marches, Engels has a good analysis, whereas the other evidence is largely unexplored with a sole focus on the marches. In your e-mail, Xenophon, you mentioned the two day march to Myriandos in Arrian, however, Curtius gives a more sensible sequence and is also probably dependant on Ptolemy; one of the passages putting Arrian into perspective - good but by no means perfect.

There is nothing to say that the wagons stuck at I 5 vii are ox carts but the fact that Xenophon advised the 10,000 to abandon its cattle shows that they had ox transports in camp and they must have come on the march.
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

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Agesilaos wrote:
I am not too sure how far it would be practicable either, plains apart, in any broken terrain one risks defeat in detail or columns getting lost, no GPS then, though a system better than AppleMaps
Ah, I see that you interpret "in parallel columns" differently to the meaning I intended to convey. The parallel columns, each say 8 abreast ( so that a simple left turn meant the files of 8 were in phalanx formation ) would march just a few metres, or tens of metres apart. Perhaps a single "broad column" should be envisaged. If you have Connolly's 'Greek Armies', p.54 depicts such close parallel columns negotiating a defile, swelling and narrowing as necessary. (alternately p.46 'Greece and Rome at War' for the same illustration )
I was going to skip Alexander's marches, Engels has a good analysis, whereas the other evidence is largely unexplored with a sole focus on the marches.
Skip Alexander's marches ? On a website about Alexander ? One of the reasons I never bought Engels is that sometimes his methods and presumptions are badly flawed, according to reviewers and other historians, so that is a disappointment. :(
Still let us by all means jump from Xenophon's Anabasis, the most complete and detailed description of an ancient army's march that we have, so providing a good base, to Diodorus XVIII-XX, and leave Alexander for another day, then.
There is nothing to say that the wagons stuck at I 5 vii are ox carts but the fact that Xenophon advised the 10,000 to abandon its cattle shows that they had ox transports in camp and they must have come on the march.
I agree - in view of what I said earlier, that ox-carts would not have accompanied the Army itself, but likely formed part of the 'Supply Train', and that it would take an awful lot of nobles to help heave a laden ox-wagon out of the mud, let alone several, I believe the wagons in question were likely lighter mule or donkey carts, that we know typically accompanied ancient armies.
At the point when Xenophon gave that advice, in the aftermath of Cunaxa, the Greeks had lost all their own baggage, and the 'emergency reserve' of 400 wagons had also been captured by the Great King (whose provender Xenophon naively believed was intended for the Greek forces only!) From its presence, these must must mean mule carts; ox-wagons would not have kept up with Cyrus' final dash, nor handled the many ditch/canal crossings in the irrigated area approaching Babylon).
However the Greeks had also captured part at least of the King's baggage train, and it is these wagons that Xenophon wants to burn. ( I gave the reference, II.1.5-7/Penguin p.104, for the capture of abandoned Persian gear - where Warner again is somewhat loose in his translation altering 'wagon'/acharma to 'chariot'/arma, though even if there is any ambiguity, Xenophon's speech a little later makes it plain that ox-carts were what was captured)

Digression: This reminds me of a further point. Agesilaos, estimating Cyrus' army to be as 'lean' as Philip of Macedon's (which I would doubt) reckoned that split 50-50 the 'Supply Train/Lydian market would consist of 200 wagons making up half the capacity.

X's reference to 400 wagons demonstrates :
a) The basic accuracy of Agesilaos' calculations that this is what it would take to replenish the army ( although mule carts at around 1200 lbs/500 kg did not have the same capacity as ox-wagons which latter Xenophon gives elsewhere as 25 talents/1450 lbs/650 kgs )......and....

b) Since the 'emergency reserve' probably would have included pack animals as well, and not solely wagons, the likelihood is that Cyrus' army was indeed not as lean as Philip's, which is what we would expect, given that Philip was cutting down 'the norm'.

Digression 2: Knowing that Cyrus marched several days until the immediate rations were running out, then waited several days for the 'Lydian Market/Supply Train' to catch up ( it moved at "oxen pace") - see tables for pauses- so he could re-provision will give us a very useful yardstick for the next phase of examining the marches of the Diadochi....we should be able to tell, for instance, whether the army is marching with or without its 'Supply Train'......
As X. said, and I quoted earlier, ( I.5.3/p77 Penguin ) Cyrus was pushing on at all speed ( without 'forced marching' )
:
"Generally speaking, it was obvious that Cyrus was pressing on all the way with no pause except when he halted for provisions or some other necessity."
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by agesilaos »

Well, I have been distracted, but this is an important codicil ; Strabo gives a distance from Thapsakos to Babylon of 4800 stadia and Plutarch says Kounaxa was 500 stadia distant from Babylon hence Kounaxa is 4300 stadia from Thapsakos. this distance is slightly more than 190 of Xenophon's parasangs (no measurement is given for the final two day's blunder into contact). Harl, working on 3.4 mile per parasang makes this distance 655.25 miles, Warner using a 3 mile approximation makes it 570miles; both being shy the final days. Measuring from a map I got 580 miles. Working on Egyptian stadia of 209m one gets 558.5 miles for 4300 stadia, however if we assume Plutarch was using Attic stadia (185m) and Eratosthenes, the head of the Library at Alexandria, Egyptian then we get 564 miles, either way the distances given by Harl are too long by almost half a mile per parasang.

The illustration is of a defensive square with the baggage in the centre as described by Xenophon during the retreat after the battle when Tissaphernes was pursuing. But I'll wait and see what crops up Have to start on XVIII, Engels is not perfect but he is good and since he explains his workings easily modifiable,
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Xenophon »

"The Greek mentality cannot be judged correctly from the standpoint of the modern scientist, and any attempt to force a spurious accuracy on to ancient measurements and translate them into mathematically exact modern equivalents is bound to have misleading results"
D R Dicks, scientific biographer of Eratosthenes

Hhh..mm...mmm, I think once again that we must caution against too much exactitude. To begin with, the exact location of Thapsacus isn't known, though I am inclined to share the belief that it was the later name for Carchemish, whose site is known. I'm guessing this site is the one you chose too? ( based on it being the major ford of the Euphrates. )

Once again we are delving into the muddy waters of ancient measures. We have already referred to the fact that the 'parasang' was a measure of time, not distance, and that time period varied with the length of the day.There are six surviving 'stadia' tracks, none of which are the same length, varying from 177.36 m to the largest, Olympia at 192.27 m ( which can be shown to be based on Egyptian measures). Can we use any of these ? Apparently not! The 'stades' used for measurement are different again ! The four most common 'stades' ( six have been claimed to be identified),using Herodotus' and Xenophon's 600 'feet' per stade, are:

'Attic' ( based on Attic foot ) = 176.4 m
'Roman' ( based on 8 stadia to Roman mile) = 184.8 m
'Doric' ( based on Doric foot) = 196.1 m
'Ionic' (a.k.a Phoenician/Egyptian) = 209.2 m

Now, Plutarch wrote at the turn of the first century AD and Strabo a century earlier, so any of these measures could have been used - and perhaps others if they simply took a number from an earlier source.

Working on 1 Parasang = 30 stadia =30 x 600 feet, then 190 parasangs =3,420,00 'feet'. If we take an Attic foot of 294 mm+/- 2 mm, we get roughly 1005 .5 km/624 miles. The 'Doric' foot of 327 mm plus or minus 2 mm gives us roughly 1,118 km/694 miles, and the 'Ionic' 1,190 km/739 miles; the 'Roman' stade 1053.3 km/654 miles or so.

We can probably rule out Attic measure - Athens seems to have converted to Doric measure sometime around the mid 5 C BC, as shown by measures from the harbour of this time and the measurements of buildings on the Acropolis.

That leaves us with the 190 'parasangs'/5,700 stadia march by Cyrus being between 654 and 739 miles. That seems to correlate very well with Harl's figure of 655 miles- at least in the right ball-park.

I also, using an electronic opisometer, traced the distance from Thapsacus/Carchemish to Cunaxa down the Euphrates river on Google Earth, though I did not follow every twist and turn ( Cyrus must have marched beside the river ), and came up with a figure of 650 plus ( maybe as much as 700) miles.

Since Xenophon tells us that Cyrus' army marched over 190 parasangs/5,700 stadia, I'm not sure of the relevance of Strabo's lesser figure of 4,800 stadia for the longer distance Thapsacus to Babylon - clearly it must refer to a shorter route, and certainly NOT the one used by Cyrus/Xenophon ? I'm afraid your calculations would appear to be based on a measurement 1200 stadia/135 miles aprox too short by my reckoning ( and Xenophon's :wink: ).
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Xenophon »

Agesilaos wrote:
The illustration is of a defensive square with the baggage in the centre as described by Xenophon during the retreat after the battle when Tissaphernes was pursuing.
It actually shows the square having altered into multiple columns marching through a defile in the multiple columns, with baggage in centre, so that a viewer can see what I meant by a 'broad column'/'parallel columns'.
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Paralus »

Xenophon wrote:To begin with, the exact location of Thapsacus isn't known, though I am inclined to share the belief that it was the later name for Carchemish, whose site is known. I'm guessing this site is the one you chose too? ( based on it being the major ford of the Euphrates. )
From Thapsacus and Zeugma the Crossing of the Euphrates in Antiquity, Iraq, Vol. 58 (1996), pp. 123-133, Michael Gawlikowski...

Thapsacus = Seleukia in Zeugma = Zeugma??
Plinny, NH V 21:
The cities which are here washed by the river are those of Epiphania and Antiochia, generally known as Epiphania and Antiochia on the Euphrates; also Zeugma, seventy-two miles distant from Samosata, famous for the passage there across the Euphrates. Opposite to it is Apamia, which Seleucus, the founder of both cities, united by a bridge.

Arr. 3.7.3:
Thence he marched up into the interior through the land called Mesopotamia, having the river Euphrates and the mountains of Armenia on his left.
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by agesilaos »

Just read that article to find Para had posted it. I used Zeugma, anyway, I remembered it was a prime candidate and is ten miles further than from Carcemish, so I went to Google earth and used the path tool at a magnification where my screen equalled about three miles, and got 567 miles ending at the Hammurabi monument in the large square works that are the excavations at Babylon (I hope :shock: ).

The point of Eratosthenes' measurement is precisely that it is along the bank of the Euphrates, 'For Eratosthenes not only says that this route is along the Euphrates' Strabo II 1 xxix, previously xxiii
And besides, as regards the stretch from Thapsacus to Armenia — Eratosthenes does not even know, as a distance that has been wholly measured, the western side that is marked off by the Euphrates; nay, he says he does not know how great is the stretch next to Armenia and the northern mountains, from the fact that it is unmeasured. For all these reasons, therefore, he says he represents the Third Section only in rough outline; indeed, he says that he collected even the distances from many writers who had worked out the itineraries — some of which he speaks of as actually without titles.
It seems likely that these 'unmeasured' distances were 'unmeasured' by Alexander's bematists, the gaps correspond to areas he did not visit.

Using my measurement Eratosthenes stadion works out to 190m, which is within experimental tolerance.

I am not sure how you get nearly 700 miles using the same map, 900km but 700 miles is a mystery. There is a flaw in your reasoning, though; Xenophon gives 190 parasangs but we cannot assume that they are 30 stadia, pace Herodotos. We cannot say where Xenophon obtained his distances, he seems not to have kept contemporary notes and the parasangs only apply to the areas under Persian rule, he may have used a Persian itinerary for his source; he was perverse enough to call Pylos, Koryphasion a la Laconique, but taking stadia and converting them to parasangs seems a step too far.
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Xenophon »

Agesilaos wrote:
I used Zeugma, anyway, I remembered it was a prime candidate and is ten miles further than from Carcemish,
I have consulted that reference, and am not persuaded that the northern Zeugma is the correct place, not least because the author refers to two Zeugmas - 'old' and 'new' which were not too far apart, nor, apparently, does he consider Carchemish at all...
One factor that militates against a crossing at 'new' Zeugma/Seleucia is that an army is in immediate difficulties turning right and following the river, because there was an adjacent desert area. Carchemish is about 25 miles downriver from Zeugma [ see below] and has no desert area. Another is that Eratosthenes, writing in the 2 C BC still refers to 'Thapsacus' so it had not changed its name to Zeugma/Seleucia. However, it is fairly irrelevant to our current subject as to which might have been Thapsacus - so let's head off any looming digression right there !

Eratosthenes ( I have an electronic book on that subject ) must have drawn on many sources and hence will have used many 'stadia' measurements. He is also reliant on HIS sources, some good, some bad - indeed sometimes quotes different distances from different sources that are widely disparate. I would take his "4,800 stadia" with a strong grain of salt, not least because that would give a figure as low as 25 aprox stadia to the parasang (4,800 divide by 190) - and no ancient source quotes such a low figure.
I am not sure how you get nearly 700 miles using the same map, 900km but 700 miles is a mystery.
No mystery at all ! As your map demonstrates, you have approximated a long wiggly line of the river by a series of straight ones, chopping off corners and taking 'shortcuts' . I followed the river more carefully, though still not accounting for every turn and came up with c. 650 miles - and allowed further 50 miles or so for my taking 'shortcuts', though not as big as your seven-league-boots !! :lol:

So I decided to get down and 'molest a few social insects' and it turns out to be 730 miles Babylon to Carchemish; 754 miles to Zeugma ! So I too underestimated. Furthermore, even that carefully measured distance will not be entirely accurate, because there are sufficient 'billabongs' ( cut off loops of the river) to show the Euphrates has changed course many times - though not by terribly much. It is also likely that Cyrus cut off and did not follow every meandering of the river - which gets us back to a ball-park figure of around 650 miles roughly.....

I could have saved myself the bother for Pliny NH V.12 ( quoted in above reference) gives a distance of roughly 724 miles or so from Zeugma to Seleucia-on-Tigris, not that far from Babylon...
We cannot say where Xenophon obtained his distances, he seems not to have kept contemporary notes and the parasangs only apply to the areas under Persian rule, he may have used a Persian itinerary for his source; he was perverse enough to call Pylos, Koryphasion a la Laconique, but taking stadia and converting them to parasangs seems a step too far
I agree, parasang is not terribly precise, and for his distances to be so fairly accurate he must have either kept notes, or as you suggest, had a Persian itinerary....certainly I'd agree that he surely did not do sums converting 'stadia' into 'parasangs', and the quote a little earlier from Dicks is apposite.....but for our purposes of approximation, what alternative do we have ?
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Paralus
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Paralus »

Xenophon wrote:I have consulted that reference, and am not persuaded that the northern Zeugma is the correct place, not least because the author refers to two Zeugmas - 'old' and 'new' which were not too far apart, nor, apparently, does he consider Carchemish at all...
One factor that militates against a crossing at 'new' Zeugma/Seleucia is that an army is in immediate difficulties turning right and following the river, because there was an adjacent desert area. Carchemish is about 25 miles downriver from Zeugma [ see below] and has no desert area.
Apologies for a continued "diversion'....

Nothing is certain and likely will never be. What is in fact is that Arrian - unless he has totally mistaken his sources - baldly states that Alexander advanced into Mesopotamia "keeping the Euphrates and the mountains of Armenia on his left" (Anab. 3.7.3). This is rather difficult to do from Europos / Carchemish (from which point he must clearly leave the river in his rear) unless he then ascends the river following the east bank (then the mountains of Armenia are directly ahead).

Your point about "desert" is well taken. Arrian, too, makes a clear mention of the better route for provisioning (ibid):
...he (Alexander) did not take the road that lead directly to Babylon, since everything was more practicable for the army on the other road: it was easier to obtain green fodder for the horses and provisions for the men, and the heat was not so intense.
Obviously, where Alexander crossed, the road to the right (direct to Babylon) was less welcoming that the route Alexander took - whether that crossing was Carchemish / Europos or Zeugmma - and the latter, given the availability of provisions and fodder going east, seems the more likely given your "desert".
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Xenophon »

Most interesting, Paralus. Given that 'Thapsacus' was still known by this name in the time of Erastothenes ( 2nd C BC ), and Zeugma/Seleucia together with it's counterpart across the river on the East bank, Apamea, had in the meantime been flourishing as the main crossing of the Euphrates, it begs the question of when the change occurred( assuming that the 'original' Thapsacus was the downriver location at Carchemish. This the more so when one considers that the original ancient crossing place/Thapsacus at Carchemish must have been a ford.).

Arrian refers only to the place 'Thapsacus' when describing the flight of Darius and the subsequent erection of twin pontoon bridges.
A straw in the wind is that Alexander ordered the construction of ships etc, which were to be taken to 'Thapsacus'.As Gawlikowski recounts, similar problems of transporting explorers steamers occurred in the 19 C. Rather than Gawlikowski's proposed change of name, could it be that in order to shorten the overland journey for the ships, Alexander's engineers moved 'the crossing place' ( which is what 'Thapsacus translates as ) upstream, and thereafter, from the existence of the two pontoon bridges, the place became known as 'Zeugma' ( which means bridge, in particular pontoon bridge according to G.) ?
Pliny's reference to a chain from Alexander's bridges being displayed at Zeugma for centuries thereafter would seem to make Zeugma almost certainly A.'s 'crossing place/Thapsacus', since one does not transport a heavy chain, or even parts of it, very far once it is assembled !!

That hypothesis seems to me to best fit the evidence, for certainly Cyrus was unique in following the river immediately after crossing, and Xenophon is the first to refer directly to 'Thapsacus/the crossing place' in our surviving histories ( other than biblical references). Thus the 'crossing place' could have been moved upstream by A.'s engineers to become the 'Zeugma'/bridge of history after Alexander, while the Carchemish/Thapsacus crossing continued to exist, largely disused but still in existence in Erastothenes time ?
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Paralus »

That's quite possible. As I say, unless a stone is unearthed blandly stating "Thapsacus", we're likely to be always best guessing. The only fly in the ointment of Alexander changing the crossing place (from Thapsacus / Carhemish to Zeugma / Thapsacus) is the following...

Xenophon wrote:Arrian refers only to the place 'Thapsacus' when describing the flight of Darius and the subsequent erection of twin pontoon bridges.
Yes, Arrian twice states that Alexander crossed the Euphrates at the same place as Darius, viz, "Thapsacus". The "quotation tree:
2.13.1
With nearly 4,000 in all, he (Darius) hastened to the city of Thapsacus and the river Euphrates...

3.6.4
Alexander himself was now starting inland for Thapsacus (from Tyre one supposes) and the river Euphrates...

3.7.1-2
Alexander reached Thapsacus in the month of Kekatombaion, during Aristophanes' archonship at Athens, and found the river spanned by two bridges [...] once Mazaeus had fled, the bridges were thrown across to the opposite bank and Alexander crossed with the army.
It seems, to me, more likely that if bridges were built across here that any further "investment" in permanent infrastructure likely took place here. The route from Phoenicia, somewhat further north in modern Syria, is the more fertile. Also, the Zeugma location is contiguous with routes into Syria/Phoenicia as well as Cilicia. This latter might well have facilitated Darius' deployment behind Alexander's lines at Issus. Seleukos, too, might have seen fit to further secure and incest in this crossing with the re-naming of Zeugma and the estblishment of Apamea across from it.

Again, we're likely never to know.
Paralus
Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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