Category Archives: Class Stuff

Legionary Religion and Weapons

Weapons – scaleydragon

Weapons played a huge role in military, religious, and societal standing in the Legionary times in Rome. Arrowheads made or break armies, axes made to change fighting methods, spears had various symbolic meanings, and a weapon that started the evolution of all iron weapons. This weapon was the Styli (or pen).

Sagittae, or arrows, were excavated from Concordia and were well-preserved (Salvemini, Arrowheads 1228). These arrows were either triangular, flat, or quadrangular (Salvemini, Arrowheads 1229). Triangular arrowheads were designed to penetrate armor (Salvemini, Arrowheads, 1229). “The bladed heads once removed leave a flat slit of a wound, which the muscles surrounding the wound would help to close by automatically contracting. The more pronounced blades of the tri-lobed points would generate cuttings in three directions, plus a punch hole, causing the same reflex muscle action to hold the wound open. This would inhibit clotting, allowing blood to flow freely from the wound and make it much more open to infection (Salvemini, Arrowheads, 1229).” Flat arrowheads were designed to aid equestrian archer’s skills. They were usually fired from compact bows to fly straight (also aided from the arrowhead’s heavier weight) (Salvemini, Arrowheads, 1232). Quadrangular arrowheads were used to penetrate armored enemies in Legionary armies (Salvemini, Arrowheads, 1234). Although arrows and axes were the only weapons that didn’t have an impact on a Legionary’s status.


“> 3 SIDE BLADE ARROW HEAD < Very RARE Ancient Roman Legionary Archery Weapon • $34.98.” PicClick, 26 Aug. 2018,

There are three types of axes, simple large axes with triangular hilts, simple axes with holed bottoms, and crescentic axes with a pike on the other side. Simple large axes were made to be heavy to deal sharp, blunt blows and the triangular hilts were used for better grip (Montanari 238-239). Simple axes with holed bottoms were made to be lighter to wield and easier to maneuver (also possibly used as projectile weapons) (Montanari 239-240). Finally, crescentic axes were made to deal significant blows with its crescent side. For the pickaxe side, it’s meant to pierce armor and pin enemies to the ground if needed (Montanari 240-241). The axes were used but not as popular as spears and swords.

Spears were popular due to being a symbolic weapon. It could represent nobility, righteous devotion to the church, and standing in the armies (Montanari 241-242). Most spears were in a lozenge shape and the spearhead metal and hilt of the spears would distinguish other Legionary statuses. The most important weapon during the Legionary time aside from the spear and sword would be the Styli.


IETE Journal of Education Binomial Sampling Charts Revisited with Graphical and Analytical Arguments – Scientific Figure on ResearchGate. Available from: [accessed 18 Oct, 2018]

Styli had a huge impact on weapon manufacturing and religious assemblies since they were used for creating maps, being used for mailing services, writing religious scripts, and more (Salvemini Styli 1.1). Most well-preserved Styli were made out of iron, it was speculated that crating Styli was a common practice to train blacksmithing skills (Salvemini Styli 1.2). When one could craft Stylis then they would move onto spears, arrowheads, swords, and axes. A Styli’s look could determine someone’s standing in an army, church, or in society (Salvemini Roman). The more gold or copper accents on the iron Styli body would mean higher class in a Legionary army and within churches.

Roman Funerals- Kimberlee Whitmore

Funerals and burial, as in many cultures, were very important to the Romans. There were many rituals and events associated with a Roman funeral. Professional mourners were hired to comprise a large portion of the funeral procession; musicians, dancers and sometimes mimes who mimicked the dead or their ancestors were also hired (Sumi). The body, carried in a bier, would follow.


The end of the procession would have been the deceased’s family and friends, following behind the body. Funerals were very public, very loud events, and a great celebration. The more important you were the larger your funeral procession and the events surrounding it would be. The death of an emperor would result in a grand event for his funeral, there would be a parade though the center of the city and many eulogies and speeches would be delivered (Favro). The rituals of the funeral were performed to exactness, many believed that if they were not performed correctly the dead would have a difficult transition to the afterlife (Hope). Many of the records that remain about Roman funerals only describe the funerals of the very rich and may not accurately represent what the average funeral would have been like (Thompson).

Early in the Roman empire it was very common to cremate the body, inhumation, or burial, had become more common by the mid second century and predominant by the mid third century though the end of the Roman empire (Thompson). When the body was cremated it was taken to the necropolis and burned on a funeral pyre. Ashes and any remains, such as bone fragments and teeth, would be gathered and put into an urn and the urn would be buried. It was believed that until the body was contained within the urn the dead’s spirit had not yet crossed the River Styx and was still present (Fife). If the body was to be buried it would be placed in an intricately decorated sarcophagus before burial. An epitaph was often included on the urn or sarcophagus, this inscription would include the name of the deceased, their birth day and life span, their relations, political offices or military rankings they held and often some form of sentiment. After the cremation and/or burial of the body a feast would be held, it was a marker for the soul to move on to the afterlife and for their family to continue on without them (Fife).


Funerals in the military would have been similar to other Roman funerals, but likely not as lavish. The conditions they lived in could have made it difficult to perform the intricate ceremonies, the dead were highly honored, although their funerals were quite simple. If the funeral had to be carried out quickly after a battle the soldiers would be buried in a mass grave or given a mass cremation, this was always avoided if possible, so the dead could be honored separately. At permanent garrisons of the Empire a small portion of the soldiers’ pay was set aside for funeral expenses. Many of the cemeteries at these outposts had special areas set aside to build pyres that would be reused multiple times for different individuals (Thompson).

Roman funerals were events steeped in ritual and ceremony, members of high society would have lavish and very public funerals, while the funeral of a soldier was often much simpler and less celebratory.

Deities – Cassandra57

The Romans had many gods and goddesses which they worshiped. However, there were only a few main gods that had to do with warfare: Mars, Bellona, Honos, and Victoria. Roman military leaders and soldiers would honor these gods in order to be successful in battle. Each of these gods had a different role to play in warfare and each was essential to the Romans.


Mars is the god of warfare, agriculture, and animal husbandry and was perhaps one of the most important gods to the Romans. He is said to have been the father of Romulus and Remus, who founded Rome (Scopacasa). Therefore, Mars was seen to be the protector of the Roman land (Scopacasa). Many of the rituals/celebrations which take place between March and October (the war season) can be traced back to the honoring of Mars. One interesting point about Mars is the fact that many of his legends include him appearing on the battlefield and fighting amongst the soldiers, “However, once set loose on the battlefield, Mars was considered capable of indiscriminate destruction” (Scopacasa). Mars was also so important that a typical sacrifice to him consisted of a bull, ram, and a boar all at once (Scopacasa). Mars was important in warfare because he was able to rally the troops and bring enough bravery and spirit of war in order to succeed in battle (Scopacasa).

Bellona is the Roman goddess of war, and her role was mostly associated with foreign warfare. In literature, her symbols typically include a shield, a spear, a torch, and a trumpet (Holland). Her temple is located outside the city of Rome, and this is where the senators would meet in order to discuss or declare war on foreign nations (Holland). When Rome would declare war on another land, it became a ritual to cast a spear from Roman land to outside the city in the direction of the land they were declaring war on. However, when that land was simply too far away, the spear would be cast in front of Bellona’s temple because it was seen to represent all foreign lands (“Fetial”). Bellona was important because she helped the Roman troops while they were fighting abroad.


Honos is the Roman god of chivarly, honor, and military justice. He was also commonly associated with the god, Virtus, who represented bravery and military strength. Honos is typically depicted with a cornucopia and a branch or sceptor (Dowling).  He would have been important to the Romans during times of war because they wanted to be worthy of the spoils in which they gained. The Romans also were concerned about whether a war was righteous or not (“Fetial”). Therefore, adhering and praying to Honos would be seen as a way to keep their fight just.

Victoria became a prominent goddess because of her ability to determine the victor in battles (“Victoria”). She became the personification of victory and was often depicted with wings like the Greek goddess Nike (Thornton). Successful generals would worship her as they returned to Rome (“Victoria”). It is obvious as to why she was seen as important to the Romans since she could determine who was the victor over life and death (“Victoria”). Her importance can also be seen by the multiple temples dedicated to her, the most important being the one on Palatine Hill (Thornton). She even has a golden statue in one of the temples dedicated to Jupiter, the head god to the Romans (Thornton). Prayers and sacrifices to Victoria would help lead to victory on the battlefield.

Important Military Festivals and Holidays- Halle

In the Roman calendar the new year starts in March. This is so that the years can start with the Campaign season. While there are many significant festivals throughout the year, I will only be focusing on those during the military season, March through October, and those immediately related to them.

Martius (March) 1st is the birthday of Mars for whom the month is named. It is also a celebration of a battle early in Rome’s history wherein wives and children kept their soldiers from walking into a trap. The war was won when the king, here unnamed, sacrificed a bull to the God Jupiter. Phoebus dropped a shield (2)  from the sky to trick Rome’s opponents (Ovid). The 9th is the festival of sacred shields, also called the dancing of the shields after the dancing priests of Mars, the shield given to the Roman King on the battle of Martius, and the original eleven replicas made to conceal its identity, are taken out to hearten the people and the army. It was also believed to be a way for the army to have good luck in the upcoming campaign season (Warde, 44). There is an account where the shield that fell from the sky was replaced by a replica, and that campaign season was a disaster (Warde, 46). The 14th is the second of the Equirria, chariot racing and discus throwing dedicated to Mars (Ovid). The 17th of march is a celebration of Jupiter userping Saturn, this is symbolic of Rome dethroning its enemies. 23- The purifying of trumpets and a sacrifice to “the Strong God” (Ovid). The 23rd and the 24th are also for the Purification of the Trumpets, most likely tubas, which were primarily used in the military (Warde, 64).


Capitoline Museums. “Colossal statue of Mars Ultor also known as Pyrrhus – Inv. Scu 58.” Capitolini.information.

A recreation of a Roman sculpture of the war god Mars, for whom the month of Marius, now March, was named.

April the 21st is a historical festival where the Vestal Virgins cleanse the city and the citizens. It was also a day to honor Romulus, the founder of Rome, for blessing the walls of Rome to never fall (Ovid). There are many rites involved with the Founding celebration including: repeating the prayer four times, and jumping over a flame three times. Similar celebration similar to this are found all over Europe, probably due to the spread of the traditions via the army (Warde, 83).

October 15th (ides) is the date of an ancient horse sacrifice to Mars. The origin and reason for this sacrifice is unclear, it is hypothesized that the winning horses from the Equirria, or perhaps the best war horses from the campaign season, were sacrificed to Mars. This was likely done as a thank you to Mars (Warde, 242). This sacrifice marks the end of military campaign season (Ovid). The literal sacrifice is phased out by the start of the republic, though the celebration stays (Warde, 242). The 19th is a ritual cleaning and storage of weapons for winter dedicated to Mars. This sacred cleansing was known as Armilustrium,  there is evidence that the sacred shields make a second appearance (Warde, 250).

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Ancient shield illustration from Nordisk familjebok
A depiction of the sacred shield bequeathed to the king by the Gods.

Februarius (February) 27th is Equirria, first of two horse racing festivals to Mars, Ovid claims this festival to be based on the chariot runs that Mars himself made (Ovid). “The Equirria occurred between King’s Flight and New Year, bridging the period of ‘disorder’: held immediately before the new moon, they prepared the way for the reestablishment of order with the new month and year (Rüpke)”

Works Cited

“> 3 SIDE BLADE ARROW HEAD < Very RARE Ancient Roman Legionary Archery Weapon • $34.98.” PicClick, 26 Aug. 2018,

IETE Journal of Education Binomial Sampling Charts Revisited with Graphical and Analytical Arguments – Scientific Figure on ResearchGate. Available from: [accessed 18 Oct, 2018]

Montanari, Daria. “Early Bronze Age Levantine Metal Weapons from the Collection of the Palestine Exploration Fund.” Palestine Exploration Quarterly, vol. 150, no. 3, Sept. 2018, pp. 236–252. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00310328.2018.1491937.

Salvemini, Filomena, et al. “Morphological Reconstruction of Roman <italic>styli</Italic> from <italic>Iulia Concordia</Italic>—Italy.” Archaeological & Anthropological Sciences, vol. 10, no. 4, June 2018, pp. 781–794. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s12520-016-0390-4.

Salvemini, Filomena, et al. “Morphological Reconstruction of Roman Arrowheads from Iulia Concordia: Italy.” Applied Physics A: Materials Science & Processing, vol. 117, no. 3, Nov. 2014, pp. 1227–1240. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s00339-014-8511-3.

Salvemini, Filomena, et al. “Residual Strain Mapping of Roman Styli from Iulia Concordia, Italy.” Materials Characterization, vol. 91, May 2014, pp. 58–64. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.matchar.2014.02.008.

Favro, Diane, and Christopher Johanson. “Death in Motion: Funeral Processions in the Roman Forum.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 69, no. 1, 2010, pp. 12–37. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Fife, Steven. “The Roman Funeral.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 18 Jan. 2012,

Hope, Valerie M., and Janet Huskinson. Memory and Mourning : Studies on Roman Death. Oxbow Books, 2011. EBSCOhost,

Sumi, Geoffrey S. “Impersonating the Dead: Mimes at Roman Funerals.” Oral History Review, Oxford University Press, 15 Jan. 2003,

Thompson, T.j.u., et al. “Death on the Frontier: Military Cremation Practices in the North of Roman Britain.” Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, vol. 10, 2016, pp. 828–836., doi:10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.05.020.

Dowling, Melissa Barden. “Honos.”, Wiley Online Library, 26 Oct. 2012, DOI: 10.1002/9781444338386.wbeah17204. Accessed on 21 Oct. 2018.

“Fetial.” Encyclopedia Britannica, the Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 24 Feb. 2016, Accessed on 21 Oct. 2018.

Holland, Lora L. “Bellona.”, Wiley Online Library, 26 Oct. 2012, DOI: 10.1002/9781444338386.wbeah17071. Accessed on 21 Oct. 2018.

Scopacasa, Rafael. “Mars.”, Wiley Online Library, 26 Oct. 2012, DOI: 10.1002/978144433836.wbeah17258.

“Victoria.”, Accessed on 21 Oct. 2018.

Ovid. Fasti. Translated by Frazer, James George. Loeb Classical Library Volume. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1931.

Warde, W. The Roman festivals of the period of the Republic, 1847-1921.

Capitoline Museums. “Colossal statue of Mars Ultor also known as Pyrrhus – Inv. Scu 58.” Capitolini.information.

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From India to Persia. Alexander The Great’s Return.

  1. Place your blog in time and space: – medievallyme

Alexander the Great achieved many things throughout his life, a life that stretched from 356 BC to 323 BC, by most estimates. His reign ran from 336 BC to 323 BC, and much of that was spent on campaigns to conquer the world as Alexander knew it, even though his maps were incorrect about the world’s edge (“Indian campaign of Alexander the Great” 2018.) After Alexander had conquered Persia in 326 BC, he set his sights on India. The Conquest of India began in 327 BC and ended with Alexander returning home without conquering India after the battle of the Hydaspes River and the mutiny of his troops. After allowing himself to be persuaded by his troops and the signs that the gods were forcing him to turn back, such as an eclipsed moon which was a bad omen at the time, Alexander had to make a plan of how to return. If he returned through what was likely the easier route, through the kingdom of Porus, Pauravas, to Taxila and Gandara, he would be able to easily reach Alexandria in the Caucasus. But he risked looking like he had failed if he took that route. Therefore, he decided, in the end, to go to the ocean and utilize his ships to get back to Persia and Babylonia. This path would take them west, back to the Hydaspes river, with Alexander founding cities on the way. Once enough ships had been built, Alexander and his men could finally leave, with the fleet being escorted by two armies who marched on the west and east banks, but all did not go according to plan. They lost many ships and many more lives during the attempt. The Indus river which Alexander followed was populated by many people, who, unlike most, resisted Alexander’s control and conquest. Those who resisted met with a destructive, merciless genocide and found themselves under control of Alexander in the end. Those who were left, quickly surrendered and Alexander continued his journey home. Alexander continued southward, attacking and conquering all who were unlucky enough to end up in his path. However, he wanted to continue his journey up to the nearby sea when revolts prevented him. He continued his journey home. “One of the armies that was sent out to suppress the rebellions was commanded by Craterus, and was under orders to continue to the west, through the Bolan pass to Carmania and Persis. He commanded about a third of the army, including the war elephants; this means that Alexander did not want to expose all his men to the dangers that were ahead. After all, a large part of them would have to march through the Gedrosian desert, others were to sail along the almost unknown shores of the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf(Lendering 2017).” His troops suffered greatly in the desert, but the natives of the desert suffered more so. However, they made it through and Alexander returned to Babylon where he resided for his final days.


(Lendering 2017)


Yeager, J. Alexandri Magni Itinera. Public Domain, 1823.

  1. Army – sombodycallixii – 2.1 Sections of the army – beholdaman – 2.2 numbers and make up of the army

Before exploring the conquests of Alexander the Great it is important to know how the Macedonian army functioned. There were two main sectors of this army the infantry and the cavalry. The infantry would have made up the bulk of the army, they were the foot soldiers, known as pezhetarios in Greek. The sarissa was the primary weapon of the heavy infantry, it was essentially a long pike. It had a sharp blade of iron on the offensive and and a spike on the opposite so that it could be braced on the ground during an attack. The spike also acted as a counterbalance for the sarissa, as the weapon was several meters long (English 16). Because of the weapon’s length it was purely an offensive weapon, and was ineffective for defense. The effectiveness of this weapon was vital to the formation of the troops that wielded it.  They fought in an improved phalanx formation, every member of the phalanx would have had a sarissa of the same length, allowing for the formation to create an impenetrable wall of spears. Should a break occur in the wall of spears they lost nearly all effectiveness (English 7). The infantry troops that traveled with Alexander were highly trained on how to fight and move on any terrain, something that was a weakness in for less trained soldiers fighting in similar fashion. While traveling it is likely that the weapons were carried by the baggage train, as marching with the lengthy weapons would have been impractical, if an attack was suspected the weapons would have been carried vertically by the infantrymen. In situations were the sarissa would have been an impractical weapon a hoplite spear or javelin would have been used. The infantry wore very little armor to increase mobility. They wore only a small shield that attached to their arm and shoulder, so their could wield their weapons with both hands (English 25).

Much was asked of the infantry and by the time they reached India they were exhausted from the fighting and travel. When they reached the Hyphasis river they revolted against Alexander and his desire to reach the ocean. They refused to march forward and as a result Alexander eventually agreed to turn back, claiming that he had received a message from the gods that continuing the campaign would be unfavorable. He still insisted that they still sail down the Indus to the Southern Ocean and return home from there (Worthington 251-253).

Alexander’s cavalry was instrumental in his success during his campaign. The cavalry was the main strike force of the army. They were divided into two sections. The first were known as the prodromoi, they were the lighter cavalry, they were typically used as scouts and surveyors. The other section consisted of the Companion cavalry, they were used more directly in battle (Wasson). The cavalry were armed with a shorter version of the sarissa, called a xyston, that would have been easier to wield while riding, though it was stated to be no less than 8 cubits long, or about 3.5 meters. This weapon had a spear point on each end, so that if it were to break, the rider could turn it around and still have a weapon, it was light enough to be thrown as a javelin (English 56). In addition to the xyston they also carried a sword for close combat. A sizable portion of the cavalry during the campaign to India would have been comprised of previously Persian cavalry. It is likely that they were incorporated into the cavalry from early on, and did not have separate ranks. Part of what made Alexander’s cavalry so successful is that members of each section were able to perform the tasks of the other without much trouble, this allowed for exchange of riders to perform whichever task was needed. The versatility and training of Alexander the Great’s army is what lead to his great success throughout his campaign.


Alexander the great took approximately 120,000 foot soldiers and 15,000 cavalry into India and returned with barely a fourth of them (Plutarch). Alexander disband the expensive and unruly mercenary armies hired while in Asia and replaced with native soldiers (Bosworth, 148). These new armies were tasked with maintaining newly conquered lands in Alexander’s name and did not make the return trip. This left 48,000 men marching toward the coast. After the mutiny at Opis, which forced Alexander to cease expanding his empire east, he was bitter toward his men and commanders. This showed in his treatment and choices in moving his army back to Persia and eventually Macedonia. He chose a meandering path that separated him from many of his commanding officers. Veterans were dismissed and given land in Asia as reward, with very little hope of returning home (Bosworth, 3,5).

There were many more battles on the way back to Macedonia. During one, known as the siege of Malli, Alexander had received his reinforcements of 30,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry (Worthington, 253). With his numbers replenished with men from Greece, Thrace and Babylon, he laid siege to Malli. 6,500 foot and 2,000 calvary went north with Alexander, including mounted archers, the rest were divided between Craterus, Philip, Hephastion, and Nearchus to attack the city from all directions (Worthington, 254).  During battle Alexander was shot in the chest and out through the neck and his men, upon seeing their king lying prone in his own blood, went into a rage winning the battle by genocide (Plutarch). At various stages of his recovery, Alexander bolstered his mens’ courage by riding and walking among them, some were moved to tears and cheering (Worthington, 256).

Upon reaching the coast the army was divided, 18,000 were to return by boat under the command of Admiral Nearchus (Bosworth, 145) while Alexander lead the remaining 30,000 by a southerly route (Bosworth, 142). This division was to keep Nearchus, and other high ranking officials, from further influencing soldiers against Alexander (Plutarch). However, he didn’t have to worry about maintaining support from his men. Despite their insistence on abandoning the campaign, they remained notoriously loyal.

Alexander allegedly lead his portion of the army through the Gedrosian desert to establish his historical dominance over “previous rulers, such as Semiramis, Queen of Assyria, and Cyrus the Great, who had lost almost all of their men” (Worthington, 261) trying to cross. This decision is widely cited as the biggest military blunder of Alexander’s reign (worthington, 261).  During the difficult journey through Gedrosia the wounded and ill were left behind to either die or recover and follow to army later (Plutarch). At this point, while still engaging in battles, these was very little recruitment happening while still in Asia. The army would have consisted of primarily macedonians and persians trained like them, with a few native soldiers to aid with terrain and field medicine specific to the area (Bosworth, 5,7). The home army of Macedonia had been ordered to meet the returning army in Persia to help squash a forming rebellion (Bosworth, 148).


  1. Supplies – Cassandra57

An army is only as good as it’s soldiers, and soldiers need food, water, and armor. With an army of 30,000 men, there had to be plenty of supplies in order for Alexander the Great’s campaign to be successful. On the way back from India, Alexander decided to cross the Gedrosian desert. This came with many hardships having to do with food, water, and other supplies.

It is helpful to note that the Macedonian soldiers were required to provide their own armor, which was often passed down through generations. However, this was not always a possibility. Alexander accounted for this and ordered 25,000 pieces of armor to be delivered to India for the soldiers (MILHISVIS). This should have provided for the clothing needs of the army for the conquest of India and the return home.

Alexander the Great’s return from India was met with many hardships while crossing the Gedrosian Desert. According to Plutarch, when Alexander’s army first came to Gerdosia, “[They] found great plenty of all things, which the neighboring kings and governors of provinces, hearing of his approach, had taken care to provide. When he had here refreshed his army…” (44). This would have given the army rest before crossing the desert and supplied them for the journey. However, water and food rations were scarce, and many soldiers and pack animals died from dehydration and sun exposure during the crossing of the desert.

Water was especially a concern while marching across the dry sand dunes. Alexander tried to stay close to the coast, but there was never a guarantee of when they would find drinkable water. Once they found a water source, Alexander would often make his camp a few miles from it. He did this because the soldiers were so thirsty that they would drink too much or fling themselves into the pool or stream and end up drowning themselves which contaminated the water for everyone else (Nicomedia). Alexander, however,  was not oblivious to the struggles of his army. One famous story relates how scouts who were sent ahead to search for water came back and put some of the water they brought back into a helmet. As soon as Alexander received the helmet of water, he poured it onto the sand in front of all his troops because if they couldn’t drink, neither would he. This was said to have rallied his army enough that it was as if they had all drunk from the helmet (Mensch 262).

Food was another concern while crossing the Gedrosian desert. At one time Alexander and his army came across a place in Gedrosia that had a lot of grain. Alexander sealed as much as he could of this to send to his other troops. However, the soldiers, being so overcome with hunger, disregarded Alexander’s wishes and ate the grain themselves. Instead of punishing them, Alexander pardoned them and requested that more grain be ground so that the soldiers could purchase it (Mensch 259-260). It was also common that soldiers would kill one of the pack animals once the supplies it was carrying ran out and claim that it died from exhaustion or dehydration so that they could eat it (Nicomedia).

Crossing the desert was a long and difficult journey. Soldiers often became desperate and acted purely out of extreme hunger and thirst. Through Alexander’s leadership and understanding of the hardships he was putting his army though, his troops made it across Gedrosia despite the lack of proper provisions.


  1. How do you find your way in an era without GPS and with only rudimentary maps? – medievallyme

        The people of today often take for granted how much easier things have become for them because of the rise of technology. Even now, computers, smartphones, and the Internet allows for almost instant knowledge of whatever suits their fancy. And often, that information is correct, and people can discover why it is correct with just a twitch of the wrist. However, in older times, this was not the case. For seafaring folk, the secret was staying in sight of the land, where they could line up landmarks to the distant shore to figure out where they were going (Tyson 1998.) But that could only get people so far. Those who wanted to travel would have to rely on other things, such as celestial navigation, which utilizes the stars at night and the sun in the daytime (Whitaker 2012). This was a relatively easy navigation due to the fact that required very simple knowledge of the skies above. Ironically, in this day and age, celestial navigation would be all but impossible for those without extremely good vision or tools, due to light pollution. And these techniques were enhanced by the development of charts, and tools to track and record the observations of the heavens, even when they were out of their depth. They developed the mariner’s compass, which utilizes magnetism to work. However, these were often incorrect due to the lack of understanding of magnetic variation (Wells 2016.) Therefore, the variety of options gave those who wanted to travel some ability to do so, but they were only as good as the tools and knowledge that created them.


  1. Baggage Train and how it affected the march of the troops – scaleydragon

Alexander the Great’s baggage train consisted of either two-wheelers, four-wheelers, or six-wheeler carts with horses, camels, and “under-the-yoke” animals (also known as oxen carriages) (Hammond, 2011).
Alexander the Great acquired many treasures during his way to India. On his way back, he tamed Indian Elephants with the help of Indian Elephant Hunters to add to his treasures and baggage train (Kimmich 300). Although two elephants were killed in this hunt, the rest were added to Alexander the Great’s treasure. These elephants numbered to at least 30 (Kimmich 300).


Anonymous. Untitled (two elephants in combat). circa 1700. Artstor,

He had his troops create ships from wood that numbered to be a fleet. The fleets had to be enough to carry up to 3000 sacrificial animals, 10,000 sheep, the 30 acquired war elephants, 200 talents of silver, 700 Indian Riders, and the rest of his troops (ranging from 13,000-14,000 infantry and 3,000-5,000 cavalry) (Kimmich 300, 470, 471). During Alexander the Great’s conquest from India and going back to Persia, it was known that he would leave some spoils of war in cities or areas where he was dubbed royalty or was defeated (Gogiashvili 199). This decreased how much his troops had to carry back to Persia but not by a lot since he was known to still carry a lot of his spoils. He would also celebrate each victory and use his sacrificial animals for the occasions (usually when he won battles or dubbed of royalty) (Kimmich 300).
Alexander the Great was known to have a large army, but a lot of the troops died from storms and harsh weather (Kimmich 332). This affected how much his supplies needed to be tossed to maintain the pace of the army. However, his army and supplies would always be replenished via gifts, foreign recruits, and spoils of war (Kimmich 331). So his baggage train always fluctuates depending on the location, weather, and where his troops stand in inhabited areas.
With the deaths of many troops, losses of battles and skirmishes, and daunting trails and roads, Alexander the Great’s baggage train formation was fantastic at keeping his troops’ morale high enough to push through the negativity. Each calvary was restricted to once calvary to one groom to move wagons of their loot and it was reported that high officers would bring lute girls to raise morale and relief stress from the long marches in full heat and equipment (Kimmich 32). It was also noted he would leave some baggage trains behind or hidden for days during battles and skirmishes (Kimmich 30).
Alexander the Great would abandon some baggage trains in larger battles. He would say to his troops that if they don’t overcome the enemy by any means necessary, their baggage train would mean nothing to them if they were dead. But if they succeed, they wouldn’t need their baggage trains anymore since they would have their enemy’s supplies and baggage (Kimmich 497). For battles, Alexander the Great’s enemies would always be up against veteran troops under the direction of a military genius who is in a do-or-die situation and is willing to do anything to win. This always set up Alexander the Great to rise in almost all situations.

In general, Alexander would have strict, quick marches, blitzkrieg battles, and tossing/abandoning of baggage trains during his trip from India to Persia. The delays to his trip back were definitely weather, troops dying, and terrain such as desert hills (Hammond, 2011). The pace was quick but had a lot of setbacks.


  1. How do we know this information? – scaleydragon

A lot of our sources were historians or historians/translators sourcing histories. Johann Gustav Droysen is a notable German historian who studies Alexander the Great’s conquest from Persia to India with Flora Kimmich translating his works. Kimmich also translated other novels such as Wallenstein and Fiesco at Genoa.
Plutarch, a notable Greek-Roman biographer and Arrian of Nicomedia, a notable Greek historian both studied Alexander the Great and are both hailed as some of the best sources for Alexander the Great’s biography and life.
Some of our other sources are organizations or bloggers are professionals in the history field or is citing sources who are experts in the field. Military History Visualized is run by an Austrian who has a Master of Arts in History from the University of Salzburg (Austria) (MilHisVis FAQ).

7. Interesting Information – scaleydragon

Alexander the Great rode Bucephalus, a “horse with fire-breathing nostrils”  (Gogiashvili 204).

8. Works Cited/References – scaleydragon, medievallyme, Cassandra57, sombodycallixii, beholdaman

Anonymous. “Untitled (two elephants in combat).” circa 1700. Artstor,

Bosworth, A. B. “Alexander the Great and the Decline of Macedon.” The Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. 106, 1986, pp. 1–12. JSTOR, JSTOR,

English, Stephen. The Army of Alexander the Great. Pen and Sword, 2009. EBSCOhost,

Gogiashvili, Elene. “Alexander of Macedon in Georgian Folktales.” Folklore, vol. 127, no. 2, Aug. 2016, pp. 196-209. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/0015587X.2016.1147221.

Hagerman, Christopher. “In the Footsteps of the ‘Macedonian Conqueror’: Alexander the Great and British India.” International Journal of the Classical Tradition, vol. 16, no. 3/4, Dec. 2009, pp. 344-392. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s12138-009-0130-6.

Hammond, N. G. L. (2011). Army transport in the fifth and fourth centuries. Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies, 24(1), 27-31.

“Indian Campaign of Alexander the Great.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Sept. 2018,

Kimmich, Flora, et al. “Johann Gustav Droysen: HISTORY OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT.” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 102, no. 3, 2012, pp. I-605. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Lendering, Jona. “Alexander 2.13-2.16.” Livius, 16 Jan. 2017,

Lendering, Jona. “Map of Alexander’s Indian Campaign.” Livius, 16 Jan. 2017,

MilHisVis. “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).” Military History Visualized – Offical Homepage for the YouTube Channel, Miltary History Visualized, 30 Mar. 2018,

MilHisVis. “The Logistics of Alexander the Great.” Military History Visualized – Offical Homepage for the YouTube Channel, Miltary History Visualized, 22 May 2016,

Nicomedia, Arrian of. “Alexander in the Gedrosian Desert.” Pliny the Younger – Livius, Livius, 28 Aug. 2016,

Ptsinari. “Alexander the Great: a Very Competent Expert in Finances.” Archaeology Wiki, Archaeology & Arts, 30 Nov. 2012,

Yeager, J. Alexandri Magni Itinera. Public Domain, 1823.

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Logon to Canvas  for more information about due dates.

Reports are due tomorrow.  Final due date for all six blogs and the  one blog for people doing projects is next Thursday, April 24.

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The Persian Archer

My blog is going to primarily focus on the Persian archer himself. For example, the qualities he needs to have, the characteristics and attributes that would benefit him, and the type of armor he would wear when going into battle. This information was found in an article that was based off of a Persian archery manuscript called Resāleye Kamāndāri, which was discovered in 1968. It goes through many different aspects of archery, including the qualities that it was thought that the archer should have. It summarizes those qualities in ten points which are further grouped into moral, temperamental and physical characteristics. The moral requirements are to be pure of heart and grateful to one’s master, to not be greedy and to lead a pure life, and to keep promises and to do good deeds. Temperamentally, the archer needs to be in a good mood and stand tall, and be able to cope with suffering and be chivalrous. The physical features are having an open chest, wide shoulders, and long arms. The archer also needed to have the knowledge and skills of how to properly use the bow. It was not a weapon you could just take and use immediately, it required thought and preparation along with calmness and self-control (Dwyer et al 2).

This is a red vase and based on my research this is an accurate depiction of how the archers in this time period looked, artist Epiktetos (signed), time frame between circa 520 and circa 500 BC

This is a red vase and based on my research this is an accurate depiction of how the archers in this time period looked, artist Epiktetos (signed), time frame between circa 520 and circa 500 BC

The archer’s attire was made up of a tunic and trousers, which were loose fitting and usually had an elaborate woven decoration to them. There was also a cap that they wore along with a combined quiver and bow-case (Iranian Archer- Soldier Profile). Many times, the foot soldier carried a short sword (acinaces), a spear with wooden shaft and metal head and butt, a quiver full of arrows of reed with bronze or iron heads, and a bow about one meter long with ends formed in animals’ heads, and a case which combined the bow-case and quiver-holder (Shahbazi).

An Achaemenid Archer with a composite bow. This is another idea of what the Persian archer would have looked like.

An Achaemenid Archer with a composite bow. This is another idea of what the Persian archer would have looked like.


An Achaemenid Archer with a Long Bow. The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies. Web.

DWYER, Bede, and Manouchehr MOSHTAGH KHORASANI. “An Analysis of A Persian Archery Manuscript Written By Kapur Čand.” Revista De Artes Marciales Asiaticas 8.1 (2013): 1-12. Academic Search Premier. Web. 28 Jan. 2014.

Iranian Archer- Soldier Profile. 10 November 2010. Web. 9 Feburary 2014.

Shahbazi, Sh., A. Achaemenid Army. n.d. Web. 9 Feburary 2014.

Wikipedia contributors. “Trousers.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 Jan. 2014. Web. 28 Jan. 2014.


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Changed due date

Yes, I’m still grading.  You will have until Monday, April 23 AT NOON to turn in revisions.  If you’re really have problems getting your final project done, email me and we’ll negotiate.

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Final Project- Ballista

Before the appearance of the ballista and other similar machines, the power of a weapon was limited to the frame of itself. Around 350 BC, the technology of a torsion powered machine was born (Nossov 136) Torsion machines uses ropes or animal cords tightly wound with a wooden arm in the middle to fire projectiles. By twisting the rope, these people were able to achieve greater power from their weapons and it was less likely to break their machines, just the ropes.

Although the original appearance of ballistae was around 350 BC, it wasn’t until roughly 334 BC that they started being widely used. Alexander was the first to start using these machines, which fired large arrows usually to take out soldiers, not structures (Nossov 136). As time progressed, they were adapted to throw stones. This meant the ballista was equipped with a larger frame and also metal parts began to be integrated into the construction to support the strain (Wikipedia 2012). With the capability of throwing stones, they were now able to take out structures rather than mainly soldiers. There is a wide variety of the calibers of stones used, each having its own purpose. The stones which were thrown ranged from 10 pounds up to 85 pounds; with the lighter stones being used primarily for defense and the heavier stones being used for offense (Nossov 138).

The ballista was a fairly simple weapon for the average soldier to operate; it worked similarly to a crossbow. Soldiers pulled levers at the rear of the machine to retract the pusher through a series of ratchets. All the energy was stored in the ropes, which carried a much higher potential energy than could have possibly been stored in

the wooden throwing arms. Due to this ratcheting system, it could be ready to fire in a moments notice. This weapon was highly accurate and there have been multiple accounts of skilled ballista shooters being able to take out enemy soldiers from a few hundred yards (Wikipedia 2012). Although they were highly accurate, they

Scene 40, Carroballistae. Used with permission, Copyright Peter Rockwell.

weren’t able to shoot very large projectiles and this eventually became the job of newly developed catapults (Nossov 150).

In this early version of a ballista, it can still be seen how they were used to fire arrows. These machines were relatively small, but that made it much easier to carry from place to place. As these weapons grew with new engineering techniques, they became more complex and had to be built more durably. As a result, metal was added to these machines, but this also made transportation more difficult. This required that they needed to be disassembled and reassembled at the site of war.

Works Cited

E. Schramm: Die antiken Geschütze der Saalburg. (Berlin 1918), S. 41 Abb. 14, 42 Abb. 15

Gurstelle, W. (2001). Backyard ballistics. (pp. 91-101). Chicago: Chicago Review Press.

Gurstelle, W. (2004). The art of the catapult. (pp. 60-69). Chicago: Chicago Review Press.

Nossov, K. (2005). Ancient and medieval siege weapons. (p. 136, 138, 150). Guilford: The Lyons Press.

Rockwell, P. (Photographer). (1999). Carroballistae. [Print Photo]. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2012, April 08). Ballista. Retrieved from


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Extra Credit info

Want to do extra credit, but don’t remember what you’re supposed to be doing?

April is  Holocaust/Genocide Commemoration/Awareness Month.   All extra credit relates to that.

Option 1:  Attend the film, Witnessing Darfur: Genocide Emergency,  which was shown on Friday April 6  in the Center for Diversity and Unity, attend the discussion and blog about it.

Option 2:  Watch one of the movies listed below and blog about it (requirements follow).

All movies are on reserve in the library.   All are documentaries except Blood Diamond.

  •  The Reckoning: the Battle for the International Criminal Court 
  • The Devil Came on Horseback 
  • God Grew Tired of Us
  • Facing Sudan
  • Blood Diamond

(Most are about Africa because I got them for an African History course.  I’ll be adding others for next year.)

The blog post:  15 pts
Due date:  Thursday, April 19, midnight MDT

  • 200-250 words
  • Includes:
    • Name of movie you saw
    • What it had to say about genocide
    • I didn’t have this originally, but you should also consider the perspective of the film – whose point of view – an outsider, perpetrator, survivor, victim, etc. and how that affects content
  • Causes
  • Effects
  • Solutions

No sources or image required

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Final Project: Scutum and Pilum

To make the legionary shield, it took a lot of planning and designing in my head what I wanted it to be like before I even looked for the materials. I first looked up legionary shields on Google, and I also looked at the design that was on Trajan’s column. The legionary shield, or the scutum, was used to as a defense mechanism against the Persians and enemies of the Roman Empire. It started at the beginning of 100 BC till about 300 AD. The scutum was made from pieces of wood that were glued together piece by piece. There was a frame that was usually made out of bronze and protected by a metal band. Then the surface was covered in leather with different color schemes according to each cohort’s own color. If not in battle, the shields were strapped on the back of the legionary.

I first found a piece of wood that was warped a little that was just plywood. I cut it a little bit just to straighten out the edges but it looked to be about the right size for a man. I sanded down the board around the edges and sharp corners, but could not fit it to curve to a body because it took a very long time. It would not have been hard to curve a shield to a legionary because they went around the frame and they glued the pieces of wood together, giving it a curved shape. I drew the design that legionaries had on a piece of parchment paper and painted the shield red. Then painted the design over the shield in yellow. The final part was that I had to outline everything in black and make the frame on the outside.

The pilum is the roman javelin that the used to attack enemies while marching or the first attacks. The pilum was used to disarm and wound the enemy before they actually got to attack them. The top three feet of the pilum has a spear metal top to attack enemies and detaches from the other four feet of wood. I used a dowel that I had with a fence post that fight and put them together. However, since I could not attach metal to wood, I could not have the pilum completely attached. Legionaries were able to melt down metal and make a spear and fit a piece of wood to the metal.

This project was so much fun, and I loved it.

Works Citied:

Rockwell, P.  Bridge. Retrieved April 5, 2012 from

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Final Project tags

I’ve set up categories for each cohort to discuss their final projects.

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The Column of Trajan Assignment

The goal of this assignment is to get you to look at the benefits and perils of using non-text primary sources,  in this case art.  Specifically, I’ve asked you to look at different scenes from the Column of Trajan.

1.  Look at scenes about your topic and see what it tells you about the subject.  Can you figure out weapons?  What they’re wearing?  What they’re doing?  How do the various scenes support (or not) the information you’ve read in your textbook (Matyszak. Legionary) and elsewhere?

2.  Once you’ve done that,  it’s time for the harder part.  Art is not created, nor does it exist, in a vacuum.   When it’s created, why it’s created, how it’s created, what it’s made from, all affect the finished product.  As you look at your scenes, think about why Trajan had the column created, why the particular scenes that are shown might have been chosen (for example:  look at the Dacians.  How are they portrayed? ), how the choice of a column affected the design, etc.

3.  Once you’re ready to post, be sure to give proper credit for the scene and the cartoon, if you use one.  Mr. Peter Rockwell  has kindly given us permission to use his pictures in our blog.  Directly under each image, you need to use the caption feature to give credit.  For help using the caption feature see:  – the easiest way is to click on the highest resolution image available then copy the URL.

4.  The caption should give the following information:  Scene number if available,  subject of image.  Used with permission.  Copyright Peter Rockwell.  Via http://URL of the image you used.

5.  You also need to credit the image at the end of your post using the correct APA or MLA style.

For example:

Scene from the Column of Trajan

Scene 110. Legionaries foraging. Used with permission. Copyright Peter Rockwell. Via

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