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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > March 2016 > Battlefield: Gaugamela

Battlefield: Gaugamela

Darius III of Persia had amassed a vast army to defend his empire against Alexander the Great. But, as Julian Humphrys explains, his numbers were no match for Alexander’s superior tactics and hardened soldiers…
FIGHT AND FLIGHT This ivory relief (based on a 17thcentury painting by Charles le Brun) shows Darius (top) watching from his chariot as Alexander (left) cuts his way through the frenzied battle
ART ARCHIVE X1, ALAMY X1

Alexander crushes the Persians

BATTLE CONTEXT

Who

Macedonians (and Greek allies) Led by Alexander the Great: 40,000 infantry and 7,000 cavalry

Persians Led by Darius III: estimated around 80,000 infantry and 40,000 cavalry

When

1 October 331 BC

Where

Mesopotamia (northern Iraq)

Why

Alexander the Great invades the Persian Empire

Result

Decisive Macedonian victory

Across a dusty plain in what is now northern Iraq, the two great armies of Greece and Persia stand before each other. It is 1 October 331 BC, and the fate of an empire is at stake.

The two nations had long been enemies. Some 150 years earlier, the Greeks had been invaded by an aggressive Persian Empire, but now, the boot was on the other foot. Darius III’s Persian Empire was under attack from Alexander III of Macedonia – or Alexander the Great – and his allies of the Greek states.

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The March 2016 issue of History Revealed.
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