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Archers vs Hoplite Phalanx

02/10/2011

The main weapon of the Persian Army  was the bow and arrow and the Persians  had thousands of archers and horsemen while the Greek s considered the bowmen inferior fighters.  Despite the hail of arrows the Greeks managed to come within striking distance and beat the Persians in hand to hand combat as the archers neither trained nor equipped for that kind of fight.

The effective range of the bow is 200 meters and the average archer shoots 4 arrows per minute. In the four minutes that the hoplites, with locked shields needed to cover the distance, a Persian unit of 20000 archers could have discharged 320000 arrows! Historians were always puzzled how so many arrow shots had so little impact on the phalanx.

In July 2009 at Castle Mountain in Australia during the 15th Australasian Historical Conference 2009 two re-enactment clubs found the answer.
50 volunteers wearing reconstructed greek panoplies advanced against an group of archers who shot them with arrows  that havd no arrow- points.
Among the archers were Olympic class athlets with many distinctions in international contests. The 50 volunteer hoplites although having difficulty maintaining their ranks while being constantly shot, advanced in a jog against the archers.  The shots were tragically inaccurate.

Further studies in the universities of New Zeeland and USA showed that the reconstructed bows with arrow bodies made of reed –as those described by Herodotus-could not pemnetrat 15 layers of linen cloth that was main component of many ancient hoplites armor. Even wors was their performance versus bronze plates. One could safely say that the Greeks had the technological advantage against the Persians

photos :

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