Scientists to scan remains of King Philip II

Discuss Philip's achievements and Macedonia pre-Alexander

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Re: Scientists to scan remains of King Philip II

Post by Paralus »

Xenophon wrote:First, the winter solstice is Dec 21 for 3 of 4 years rather than Dec 22 and second, Hesiod says "60 days", which is two lunar months (2x 29.530 days), not two 'modern' months.....and even that does not get you into March ! ( 22 Feb give or take a day - and that's a stretch. Note that the month references given in your quote are modern interpolations, trying also to stretch the ancient period into the modern concept of Spring in March )
No one is trying to stretch into some "modern" concept. The astronomical pointer is secure: Arcturus (the brightest star in Bootes) would be visible in early March as the sky began to darken (very late Feb depending on latitude). After this the sparrow signals the beginning of spring. What's difficult here?
Xenophon wrote:There are plenty of examples of forced marches for a week or more, at up to 50 miles per day on occasion. The 35 miles per day is largely based on the information from Xenophon that a 'double' day's march of 10 parasangs rather than the usual 5 or 6 was marched on occasion, and the fact that Philip's soldiers routinely practised marching 35 miles per day.
Xenophon wrote:To save you having to read a lengthy thread, I've dug out the most pertinent entries for you. Have a look at the tables posted - Fri Jan 11 and Sat 12; Fri Jan 18 and Sat 19 and Wednesday Jan 23. There are plenty of examples of forced marches for a week or more, at up to 50 miles per day on occasion. The 35 miles per day is largely based on the information from Xenophon that a 'double' day's march of 10 parasangs rather than the usual 5 or 6 was marched on occasion, and the fact that Philip's soldiers routinely practised marching 35 miles per day.
Ahh... I see. And, indeed, I have read...
Xenophon wrote:**Some editors think that Xenophon erred somehow at this point. Since the rate of march averaged 17-20 miles per day, perhaps Xenophon intended to write that the advance took five rather than three days. For myself, I think that the distance quoted of 34.5 miles per day is within the parameters whereby armies could move up to 50 miles per day on a ‘forced march’
"For myself"... so this is your view. Firstly Philip's "regular" 300 stade marches are clearly training; that such occurred with regularity in campaigning is another matter (though why train if not to do - if required?). That said, Alexander's marches are often cited in this regard and here Tarn (C. A. H. VI, 385) and Hammond (History of Macedonia p 622) have backed your view. They cite Alexander's famous pursuit of Darius across Iran. Here both claim that Alexander, like his father, "double marched" his forces at some 35-36mpd. In all of the "Great's" marches this - in pursuit of the Great King - surely is the quickest? Well, by comparison there is his march on Thebes (as you have erroneously noted). Unfortunately, for your "timing", he did not march upon Thebes from the Danube - or anywhere near it. He departed from Pelion in Illyria (Arr. 1.7.5) and so the "400 miles" can be dismissed. This march was so fast the Thebans did not realise he was past Thermopylae until he was well within Boeotia. How fast? A march of a little over 230 miles in 14 days or 16-17mpd.

So, what of the great pursuit of Darius? Here Tarn (followed by Hammond) asserts that Alexander covered near 400 miles in eleven days from Ecbatana to Hecatompylos. This confirms the "oft performed 'double marches' of 35mpd" . Or does it? Both have made a crass error. Arrian only states that Alexander covered the c200 miles from Ecbatana to Rhagae in eleven days (3.20.1-3). This translates to 16-17mpd. And this was the great pursuit.

I believe armies of this day regularly marched 10-12 miles or so per day (given time to forage as Xenophon rightly stresses elsewhere). Marching 16-20+mpd is asking some (going by Alexander's efforts) and 35mpd - especially in the autumn going into winter - something quite different again.

You have, more than once, posited "apologia" for Olympias and, in connection with this, "exaggeration" on Diodorus' behalf. I find this most interesting. What reason might you have for Diodorus apologising for Olympias' conduct of the siege and his supposed exaggeration?
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Re: Scientists to scan remains of King Philip II

Post by Xenophon »

Paralus wrote:
No one is trying to stretch into some "modern" concept. The astronomical pointer is secure: Arcturus (the brightest star in Bootes) would be visible in early March as the sky began to darken (very late Feb depending on latitude). After this the sparrow signals the beginning of spring. What's difficult here?
More wriggling ? :lol: ....you are quite correct that when a particular star, in this case Arcturus, rises depends on latitude, and a little checking reveals that depending on where you are in Greece that time can be late January-February - not March. Can we check this ? Yes ! Hesiod is quite specific that for his latitude, in 700 BC aprox, Arcturus rises 60 days after the winter solstice, which we have already determined is the 19th of February give or take a day !!
"For myself"... so this is your view.
Yes, and when I pointed out that certain editors had tampered with the text regarding these distances, you agreed, and did not quibble with those distances then.....
Firstly Philip's "regular" 300 stade marches are clearly training; that such occurred with regularity in campaigning is another matter (though why train if not to do - if required?).
I don't claim that such distances were marched with 'regularity' - that is a 'forced march' distance - I have just posted a reminder of 'march distances' on the "Nora + Forced march distances thread."
Well, by comparison there is his march on Thebes (as you have erroneously noted). Unfortunately, for your "timing", he did not march upon Thebes from the Danube - or anywhere near it. He departed from Pelion in Illyria (Arr. 1.7.5) and so the "400 miles" can be dismissed. This march was so fast the Thebans did not realise he was past Thermopylae until he was well within Boeotia. How fast? A march of a little over 230 miles in 14 days or 16-17mpd.
Not erroneous at all, though I grant that my 'compressed' language might be a little misleading - thoughts racing ahead of typing fingers. I was trying to work back from Alexander's apparent arrival at Thebes in September to work out when the campaign began. The "400 miles or so" is the right approximate figure for Alexander's march north and return to Pelion ( that's 'map miles' - on the ground it was probably more.) There is a mistake though. I didn't allow time for the serious campaigning - about a month or six weeks worth, and I forgot to add in the time it took to get to Boeotia - 7 days from Pelion to Pelinna in Thessaly - right across the alps of 'Upper' Macedonia, then a descent into the Thessalian plain, 100 plus miles, or 14-15 miles per day up and down mountain ranges, no doubt utilising the river valleys and crossing via watersheds - a very creditable performance implying flat out 'forced' marching pace with no rest days, followed by Pelinna to Onchestus on the shores of Lake Copais a few miles north of Thebes, via Thermopylae. This is another 120 miles or so, carried out in six days [20 mpd] on mostly flat, but some mountainous terrain! An amazing performance - the Thebans only got news that he had passed "the gates" at Thermopylae, some 46 miles to the north, when Alexander had already arrived at Onchestus, just 12 miles or so north of Thebes itself, as you referred to !!

A wonderful example of 'forced' marching for a prolonged period ( 13 days). Adding this ( the march to Thebes and the actual campaigning )to my earlier "July, perhaps as late as early August " takes us back to the beginning of June, and that in turn implies that the 'call-up' went out to Upper Macedonia as soon as the snow season was over in mid-March or so, as referred to previously, with the Army setting off perhaps in June, when the grain harvest was in, in 'Lower' Macedonia, but perhaps a little sooner.....
I believe armies of this day regularly marched 10-12 miles or so per day (given time to forage as Xenophon rightly stresses elsewhere). Marching 16-20+mpd is asking some (going by Alexander's efforts) and 35mpd - especially in the autumn going into winter - something quite different again.
If you mean 'Strategic' marching when progress is limited by the speed of oxen [2 mph], then I'd agree, but marching 16-20 mpd is not an "ask" at all, it is routine for soldiers in any era, fully laden - and even now, at my age, I can still routinely cover this sort of distance 'bush-walking' with full gear. That this was so back then is readily seen from the detailed breakdown of the march of Cyrus - where we see the army routinely marching 17 mpd or more, then after a few days when their rations grow short, they 'rest/pause' for a few days while the oxen- powered wagon train ( the 'moving market') catches up and replenishes them. Alexander's march sequence - 'caterpillaring' - will have been the same. 'Forced marching' at the height of summer or in a snowy winter is indeed 'something else' as some of the many examples I gave earlier demonstrate. Spring or Autumn are a better time of year.....and need I remind you I have a bit of personal experience of what I am talking about, having marched 50 miles a day for 3 days running on several occasions in my army service many moons ago ?
You have, more than once, posited "apologia" for Olympias and, in connection with this, "exaggeration" on Diodorus' behalf. I find this most interesting. What reason might you have for Diodorus apologising for Olympias' conduct of the siege and his supposed exaggeration?
I have been giving the reasons as I go....it would appear you have not been paying attention !! :shock:

Or could it be the first sign of "oldtimers disease"....the symptoms of which I have noted in myself ! :lol:

I have always been suspicious of this story, for it just does not make sense.......


For convenience, I shall summarise and expand :
Firstly, Diodorus' 'apologia' is not for Olympias' conduct, but rather for the conduct of her bodyguards, who include some Ambracian cavalry and Polyperchon's remaining elephants, in surrendering relatively quickly.

Secondly, the total number consists of simply her court and bodyguards, perhaps a few hundred personnel at most. These take refuge in a walled 'polis' which must number many thousands of people, yet the addition of a relatively small number tips them into starvation mode? Did Pydna have no granaries? One would expect such a city to have sufficient grain to get through the winter, and on until the next harvest in June whose grain would not be consumable until August, and a reserve to boot. The addition of Olympias' several hundreds ( certainly not thousands, she brought no army) should not have caused the city to run out of food within weeks of her entering it.

Next, DS claims it was "a very long siege" when it patently wasn't, being 3 months or so at most - an obvious exaggeration. Then he claims that each soldier received a mere 5 choinices a month grain ration, and the grooms etc ( horsemen not in the ranks) nothing at all ! This is an obvious gross exaggeration, for that represents 5 days 'normal' ration, and no-one would have survived a month on that basis, let alone 3 months. ( a choinix provides about 2,500 calories, pretty close to the bare daily minimum to avoid starvation ). Presumably the citizens had even less ? Why would Olympias have even gone there if the civil authorities solemnly advised her on arrival, as they would have, that there was less than 3 months food in the place and the city was on the verge of starvation ?
Not to mention that the soldiers would naturally have raided the food supplies of the civilian population, which would have been more than ample to get them through a short 3 month siege.

At the other extreme, we are told they ate the horses and pack-animals. A cow ( or horse or mule) weighs around 1,000 lbs and when butchered yields about 750 lbs of meat, which when 'dressed' for the supermarket is reduced to 5-600 lbs. However, in a starvation scenario, there would be more than 750 lbs, for all including skin and offal would be utilised. Let us take that figure, though, for a rule of thumb calculation. Let us guess 500 animals. That gives 375,000 lbs of meat. Arbitrarily halve it on the assumption the animals are slowly starving and getting thinner ( which they wouldn't have been). Allow a generous half pound of meat ration per day gives 375,000 'rations' . Divide by 90, rounded up to 100 for simplicity, days (of the siege) that's enough meat for 3,750 people for the duration of the siege, and Olympias' entourage couldn't have numbered anything like this. Even if we assume only the barest minimum animals - say 250 - hence only enough for 1875 people, and then double the ration to a pound a day, that gives 1,000 people 4 'Big Mac quarter pounders' per day for the duration !!

Or looked at another way, assume each of her followers had an animal each - riding or pack animal (regardless of their number). That's 750 lbs of meat per capita at least! Enough to last several years. And that's not taking into account the elephants ! :lol: :lol:

Even if the animals themselves starved to death, as DS says the elephants did, and the carcasses rotted, there would have been enough viable meat to get them through. This is inherently unlikely, for Pydna would have contained enough fodder for its domestic animals to survive until at least Spring/Summer, and the Royal entourage's animals would have taken precedence and so had ample fodder, such that they could be slaughtered at need.

Then we are told that these 'starving' soldiers had the strength to carry bodies up to the top of the walls and throw them over...something rather difficult for men who are starving, who can normally barely stand or walk......

Next "many of the soldiers...appealed to Olympias" who graciously permits them to withdraw - she obviously wouldn't have had an alternative. This, of course, was tantamount to a full unconditional surrender.

Next Cassander greets these men, whom DS now calls 'deserters', in friendly fashion. What happened to the same men being honourably discharged by Olympias a few lines earlier ? Cassander sends these 'starving' deserters, ex-followers of Olympias, off to the other Macedonian cities post-haste to spread the glad tidings of her surrender. If they were 'starving' and unfit, he'd have sent other messengers, so they were obviously hale and hearty.

I have a plausible but unprovable hypothesis of my own. Olympias and her court including the soldiers were not starving at all. "As spring came on" everyone knew ( as DS tells us) that an assault was inevitable in short order, and certain death for Olympias' followers/guards with it ( not to mention the poor innocent civilians of Pydna). Bearing in mind the 'fickleness' of the Macedonians, and the not-yet-known precedent of the "Silver shields", I have the deepest suspicion that what actually happened was that the 'followers' - Ambracian cavalry and bodyguards - surrendered Olympias and her court to Cassander 'toute de suite' when the weather broke, in exchange for their lives.....

The whole story was a concoction to cover up the shameful act of surrender by those concerned ( after all, no-one of Olympias' court entourage survived terribly long to gainsay them ). It paints a spurious depiction of loyalty unto death - "no small number of the soldiers also met the same fate....", but the story has as many holes as a swiss cheese, it is an unlikely fairy tale and simply doesn't add up......

For my money, the alternate hypothesis seems far more likely, and is the way to bet....were I a gambler.
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Re: Scientists to scan remains of King Philip II

Post by Paralus »

Xenophon wrote:
"For myself"... so this is your view.
Yes, and when I pointed out that certain editors had tampered with the text regarding these distances, you agreed, and did not quibble with those distances then.....
"Old timers' disease".... when did I not quibble? (to save me the effort of searching).

Xenophon wrote:A wonderful example of 'forced' marching for a prolonged period ( 13 days).
Yes, but hardly "forced marching" of the type you've posited (35-50mpd) Nor is the most famously attested forced march of Alexander (the pursuit of Darius) as I noted on the "Nora" thread (I think... No, on this thread. No wonder I'm suffering "Old timers'")...
Paralus wrote:That said, Alexander's marches are often cited in this regard and here Tarn (C. A. H. VI, 385) and Hammond (History of Macedonia p 622) have backed your view. They cite Alexander's famous pursuit of Darius across Iran. Here both claim that Alexander, like his father, "double marched" his forces at some 35-36mpd. In all of the "Great's" marches this - in pursuit of the Great King - surely is the quickest? [...] So, what of the great pursuit of Darius? Here Tarn (followed by Hammond) asserts that Alexander covered near 400 miles in eleven days from Ecbatana to Hecatompylos. This confirms the "oft performed 'double marches' of 35mpd" . Or does it? Both have made a crass error. Arrian only states that Alexander covered the c200 miles from Ecbatana to Rhagae in eleven days (3.20.1-3). This translates to 16-17mpd. And this was the great pursuit.
Xenophon wrote:...the conduct of her bodyguards, who include some Ambracian cavalry and Polyperchon's remaining elephants, in surrendering relatively quickly.
!!!!!!!!!!!

Must be compression again. Elephant "bodyguards"??!!
Xenophon wrote:I have a plausible but unprovable hypothesis of my own. Olympias and her court including the soldiers were not starving at all. "As spring came on" everyone knew ( as DS tells us) that an assault was inevitable in short order, and certain death for Olympias' followers/guards with it ( not to mention the poor innocent civilians of Pydna). Bearing in mind the 'fickleness' of the Macedonians, and the not-yet-known precedent of the "Silver shields", I have the deepest suspicion that what actually happened was that the 'followers' - Ambracian cavalry and bodyguards - surrendered Olympias and her court to Cassander 'toute de suite' when the weather broke, in exchange for their lives.....

The whole story was a concoction to cover up the shameful act of surrender by those concerned ( after all, no-one of Olympias' court entourage survived terribly long to gainsay them ).
And a magnificent theory it is; not that I necessarily agree. We aren't told exactly where the fugitives took up residence and it may well have been the town's best defensible redoubt (Alexander IV and Roxanne are placed in the "citadel" of Amphipolis rather than simply Amphipolis).In any case, Olympias is not "governing" Macedonia from Pydna (most likely Pella as she deals with Arrhidaeus and other matters). Yet, on the news of Cassander's hastening into Perrhaebea, she "designated Aristonoüs general, ordering him to fight Cassander" and takes herself to Pydna. One can only assume it was smaller and better suited as a 'bolt hole' thus proving a better redoubt that Pella. She has also done this in a hurry and is expecting that her Epirotes and Polyperchon will sort Cassander (Aristonous as well).

I would dearly love to see something of the archaeological site of Pydna but, alas, nothing is to be found aside from a few small photos. The place does not seem to have been large. I did, though, find this mass burial from fourth century Pydna. This does not mean it is the remains of Olympias' cohorts but it makes for tantalising reading.

As an aside, Cassander's "welcoming all the deserters and treating them in most friendly fashion" will surely have included their feeding and 'resuscitation' prior to the sending of those selected for the task. Also, I do not see that the news of the "betrayal" of the Argyraspids has any bearing on these deserters. Macedonians changing sides was, by now, a commonplace. The royal army famously deserted Perdiccas and then wanted to appoint Ptolemy epemiletes; Antigonus had 3,000 desert him; Phoenix's column from Eumenes; soldiers of Neoptolemus enrolled by Eumenes; Apollonides who deserts Eumenes for Antigonus...**

You theory to one side, the question was not about proving or disproving apologia but rather why there is the need for such (probably the way I framed it). For example, some have argued that the blackening of the Argyraspids is exculpatory post factum apologia for Eumenes' failure at Gabiene. What is the need to exculpate those guards (elephantine as well!) in this story?

** The "old timers" brain has clicked. You mean the argyraspids set the precedent for handing over their commander? I'd still point to Perdiccas' philoi / advisers handing him over to the gods as the ultimate in abandoning your commander!
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Re: Scientists to scan remains of King Philip II

Post by Xenophon »

Xenophon wrote:
A wonderful example of 'forced' marching for a prolonged period ( 13 days).

Yes, but hardly "forced marching" of the type you've posited (35-50mpd) Nor is the most famously attested forced march of Alexander (the pursuit of Darius) as I noted on the "Nora" thread (I think... No, on this thread. No wonder I'm suffering "Old timers'")...
Oh, but it is! Allow me to explain. The first 7 days was right across the 'roof' of the Alps of Upper Macedonia. (Have you checked a map or Google Earth? ). Now when army officers plan a route march across mountains, they have two rules of thumb:
1) Map distance plus one third equals actual 'ground distance'
2) Add one hour for each 300m/1,000 feet of ascent, and one hour of each 600m/2,000 ft of descent.

Applying this to Alexander's march from Pelion, a Macedonian border fortress, to Pelinna in Thessaly, 15 miles per day 'map speed' becomes 20 miles per day 'ground speed. Using the likely route ( an ancient road following the river valleys) the first day's march an ascent of around 400m, so add another hour 20 mins, equivalent to over 5 miles on the flat, and Alexander achieved around the equivalent of 25 mpd on the flat - not to mention the extra stress produced by 'mountain marching'. The likely second day's march involved a 600m descent, then a 300 m ascent. Applying our 'rules of thumb', we have 15 plus one third (5 miles), plus 1 hr (4 miles) plus 1hr (4 miles) for a total equivalent to 28 mpd...and he keeps this up for 7 days ! The troops will have been extremely tired from this...but there is no respite, and Alexander pushes on to Boeotia at an average pace of 20mpd (map miles), and since this again involves some mountain marching, the actual figure again will be higher. I could plot the whole thing day-by-day, but suffice to say Alexander moved at maximum pace, averaging well over the equivalent of 25 mpd ( compared to the normal 15-20 ), and hence this is a brutal 'forced march' mostly over big mountains.
Paralus wrote:
Must be compression again. Elephant "bodyguards"??!!
:lol: :lol: Yes, compression again. Her entourage included her court, some bodyguards, some Ambracian cavalry, and the remainder of Polyperchon's elephants, as I'm sure you know......
I would dearly love to see something of the archaeological site of Pydna but, alas, nothing is to be found aside from a few small photos. The place does not seem to have been large.
...nor overly small either. It's importance was that it had a landlocked, sheltered harbour. The city was a little inland from the port - moved 20 stadia inland in 410 BC after Archelaus captured it (DS XIII.49). It was surrounded by marsh, and saltpans still worked today, and as you might expect, relatively flat, on a small rise above the marshes, hence not likely to have an 'acropolis' or 'citadel' - though the later Byzantines did build a castle there.
Quite why she went there is a mystery - perhaps it offered the nearest walled city to 'the front', for ease of communication or perhaps she was simply caught 'in transit' by the speed of the Cassander's advance, and again made for the nearest bolt-hole with walls. Who can say ? The presence of the remaining elephants too is hard to explain. Why weren't they with Aristonous army ? "Caught out" seems a possible reason....

The mass grave is indeed interesting. When it was first discovered, it was postulated that it was a single deposition, and that it represented the grave of casualties from the famous battle 168 BC. Subsequently it turns out to be the rather more mundane multi-deposition grave of the lowest type of slaves, worked to death....
As an aside, Cassander's "welcoming all the deserters and treating them in most friendly fashion" will surely have included their feeding and 'resuscitation' prior to the sending of those selected for the task. Also, I do not see that the news of the "betrayal" of the Argyraspids has any bearing on these deserters. Macedonians changing sides was, by now, a commonplace. The royal army famously deserted Perdiccas and then wanted to appoint Ptolemy epemiletes; Antigonus had 3,000 desert him; Phoenix's column from Eumenes; soldiers of Neoptolemus enrolled by Eumenes; Apollonides who deserts Eumenes for Antigonus..
'Resuscitation' from even semi-starvation typically takes months - see the famous Minnesota starvation experiment, designed to assist with expected widespread post WWII famine here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_ ... Experiment ....and that was under medical supervision, and see also 'anorexia' recovery times around 5-6 months or more - again under medical supervision.

Since the aim of Cassander was to spread the word quickly 'to the cities' so as to stifle any Spring mobilisations, he needed it spread quickly, so not months later, which means the garrison that surrendered was certainly not starving, seemingly dispersing to their home cities immediately.

My mention of the Argyraspids was merely to illustrate as an example the 'fickleness' of the Macedonian troops to put their own interests before those of their leaders - you have kindly supplied several more examples of 'the mood of the times'. :)
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Re: Scientists to scan remains of King Philip II

Post by amyntoros »

Topic has been split from this point, as requested. Please see "Cassander, Olympias & the 3rd Diadoch War: Early Chronology". :)

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