The arms and armour of the armies of Antiochus III from the Median Revolt to the Battle of Magnesia (221-190 BC)
Du Plessis, Jean Charl.( Embargoed).
MetadataShow full item record
By the time Antiochus III inherited the throne, the Seleucid empire, plagued by political infighting and revolts, was crumbling around him. Setting out to restore his kingdom to its former extent from Thrace in the west, to the river Indus in the east, Antiochus was opposed by numerous enemies whose armies and cultures were as diverse as the lands he ruled. At the heart of the king’s ambition stood the Seleucid armies, the tools with which he planned to restore his kingdom to its former glory. The Seleucid armies enabled Antiochus to re-establish his dominion and overcome all his enemies, until he came up against the power of Rome in 190 BC. This thesis is an evaluation of the effectiveness of the arms and armour of the various troop types of Seleucid armies during the restoration campaigns of Antiochus III between 221 and 190 BC. The primary focus of the thesis falls on the material culture and experimental archaeology of the period. This study incorporates a thorough analysis of the archaeological, iconographical, epigraphical and literary evidence, supported by a critical evaluation of modern scholarship on the armies of Antiochus III. After a brief introduction and literature review (Chapter 1), Part One begins with an examination of the Seleucid phalanx (Chapter 2), while Chapter 3 builds upon it by taking the practical approach of exploring the synaspismos defensive formation of the phalanx by means of archaeological experimentation. Chapter 4 assesses the guard cavalry and regular citizen cavalry. In part Two, the troop types and strategic roles of the auxiliary forces are discussed in Chapter 5 and 6 which are supported by two chapters (Chapters 7 and 8) of experimental archaeology, which examine the effectiveness of javelins and slings on ancient battlefields. In Part Three Chapter 9 discusses the ‘terror’ weapons deployed by the Seleucids -- elephants and scythed chariots. Finally, in Part Four, Chapter 10 examines the battles fought by the Seleucid armies of Antiochus III while Chapter 11 is an overall assessment of the army. The Seleucid armies of Antiochus III were some of the most effective military forces of the ancient world thanks to five crucial elements: (1) the large pool of manpower from which to draw soldiers, (2) the enormous wealth that Antiochus had at his disposal to equip, train and maintain armies, (3) the logistical skills and organisation of the armed forces on campaign, (4) the diversity of troop types and combined arms strategies, and (5) the persona and imperialistic ideology of Antiochus III.