Siege of Gaza
Part of the Wars of Alexander the Great
Gaza painting - David Roberts.jpg

Painting of Gaza by David Roberts, in The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, and Nubia
DateOctober 332 BC
Location31°31′N 34°27′E / 31.517°N 34.450°E / 31.517; 34.450Coordinates: 31°31′N 34°27′E / 31.517°N 34.450°E / 31.517; 34.450
Result Greek victory
Territorial
changes
Alexander secures access to the Egyptian mainland
Belligerents
Vergina Sun - Golden Larnax.png Macedonia
Hellenic League
Standard of Cyrus the Great (Achaemenid Empire).svg Achaemenid Empire
Arab mercenaries[1]
Commanders and leaders
Alexander the Great
Hephaestion
Batis (POWExecuted
Strength
45,000 15,000 [2]
Casualties and losses
Unknown, but fewer 11,000[2]
Gaza is located in West and Central Asia
Gaza
Gaza
Location of the siege in the Middle East
  current battle

The siege of Gaza took place in 332 BC, and was part of the Egyptian campaign of Alexander the Great, the ancient Greek king of Macedonia. It ended the Thirty-first Dynasty of Egypt, which functioned as a satrapy of the Achaemenid Persian Empire.

During the siege, Alexander succeeded in reaching the walls by utilizing the engines he had employed against Tyre.[3] After three unsuccessful assaults, the stronghold was taken by storm.[4]

Batis, a eunuch[5] and the commander of the fortress of Gaza, expected to hold Egypt in subjection until the Persian king Darius III could raise another army and confront Alexander in a battle from this city.[6] The fortress was located on an eminence, on the edge of a desert from which the surrounding area could be easily controlled. It enabled control over the main road that went from Persian Assyria to Egypt. The city, over 18 metres (60 ft) high, was traditionally employed to control the surrounding area, which even then was a hotbed of dissent.[6] Batis was aware that Alexander was marching down the coast, as he had just been victorious at Tyre. He therefore provisioned Gaza for a long siege.[6] It is likely that he was aware of Alexander's intention of controlling the entire Mediterranean coast before moving to Persia proper.

First stage of the siege
First stage of the siege
Second stage of the siege
Second stage of the siege

Siege

Upon arriving, Alexander camped near the southern side of the city and deemed the southern walls as the weakest.[7] It is alleged that the mounds were built quickly, despite the engineers' belief they could not be completed due to the nature of Gaza's fortifications.[8]

One day during the siege, the Gazans made a sortie against enemy siege equipment constructed on site, and Alexander led his shield bearing guards into counterattack.[3] Alexander's shoulder was injured in the attempt.[8] According to Arrian, the rest of the mound was completed shortly after, around the whole of Gaza.[8] At some undefined period after this, the siege equipment from Tyre arrived, and was put into use also. It was after this that major sections of the wall were broken by the Macedonians.[8] After three attempts to enter the city, the Macedonians finally entered the city. The Gazans fought bitterly; at one point, an Arab mercenary pretended to surrender and after being taken to the Macedonian camp, attacked Alexander who suffered a minor injury before the Arab was struck down.[1]

Consequences of the siege

Batis refused to surrender to Alexander.[9] When Gaza was taken, the male population was put to the sword and the women and children were sold into slavery.[10]

According to the Roman historian Quintus Curtius Rufus,[11] Batis was killed by Alexander in imitation of Achilles' treatment of the fallen Hector:[12] A rope was forced through Batis's ankles, probably between the ankle bone and the Achilles tendon, and Batis was dragged alive by chariot beneath the walls of the city until he died.[11] Alexander, who admired courage in his enemies and might have been inclined to show mercy to the brave Persian general, was infuriated at Batis's refusal to kneel and by the enemy commander's haughty silence and contemptuous manner.[13][14]

As a result of the siege, Alexander was allowed to proceed south into Egypt securely, without his line of communications being threatened from the North by Batis from Gaza.

References

  1. ^ a b Graf, David Franck (1 January 2003). Sartre, Maurice (ed.). "Arabs in Syria: Demography and epigraphy". Topoi. La Syrie hellénistique. Lyon, France: Société des Amis de la bibliothèque Salomon-Reinach/Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée Jean Pouilloux (Fédération de recherche sur les sociétés anciennes). 13 (Suppl. 4): 310–340. ISSN 2496-7114 – via Persée.
  2. ^ a b Engels, Donald W. (1980) [1978]. "3. Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, and Iraq". Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army (2nd ed.). Berkeley, California, United States: University of California Press. pp. 54–70. ISBN 9780520042728. LCCN 76-52025 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ a b Arrian of Nicomedia 1884, pp. 136, XXVI. Siege of Gaza.
  4. ^ "Leaders and Battles: Gaza, Siege of". Leaders and Battles Database. Archived from the original on 2006-10-22. Retrieved 2007-01-18.
  5. ^ Aharoni, Yonahan (2006) [2003]. "1. Ancient Times (E. The Hellenistic Period)". In Ahituv, Shmuel; Ball, Barbara Laurel (eds.). The Jewish People: An Illustrated History. New York City, United States: Continuum. p. 57. ISBN 9780826418869 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ a b c Dodge 1996, pp. 343–352, XXV. Gaza and Egypt. September, B.C. 332, to Spring B.C. 331.
  7. ^ Dodge 1996, pp. 344, XXV. Gaza and Egypt. September, B.C. 332, to Spring B.C. 331.
  8. ^ a b c d Dodge 1996, pp. 345, XXV. Gaza and Egypt. September, B.C. 332, to Spring B.C. 331.
  9. ^ Arrian of Nicomedia 1884, pp. 134–135, XXV. The offers of Darius rejected—Batis, Governor of Gaza, refuses to Submit.
  10. ^ Arrian of Nicomedia 1884, pp. 137, XXVII. Capture of Gaza.
  11. ^ a b Rufus 1714, p. 211, Chapter VI.
  12. ^ Hamilton, J.R. (1 October 1988). Paschoud, François; Raaflaub, Kurt; Temporini, Hildegard; Walser, Gerold (eds.). "The Date of Quintus Curtius Rufus". Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte. Stuttgart, Germany: Franz Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden GmbH. 37 (4): 445–456. ISSN 0018-2311. JSTOR 4436073.
  13. ^ Tumans, Harrijs (2019). Yu, Andrey; Beousov, Mikhail S. (eds.). "Alexander the Great and Three Examples of Upholding Mythological Tradition". Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. History. St. Petersburg, Russia: St. Petersburg State University Academic Press. 64 (4): 1301–1316. doi:10.21638/11701/spbu02.2019.409. ISSN 1812-9323. S2CID 214090309 – via DSpace at Saint Petersburg State University.
  14. ^ Rufus 1714, p. 214, Chapter VI.