Gedrosia

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Map showing the route of Alexander the Great through Gedrosia
Map showing full route of Alexander the Great

Gedrosia (/ɨˈdrʒə/; Greek: Γεδρωσία) is the hellenized name of an area that corresponds to today's Balochistan. The area which is named Gedrosia, in books about Alexander the Great and his successors, runs from the Indus River to the southern edge of the Strait of Hormuz. It is directly to the south of the Iranian countries of Bactria, Arachosia and Drangiana, to the east of the Iranian countries of Persia and Carmania and due west of the Indus River which formed a natural boundary between it and Western India.

Following his army's refusal to continue marching east at the Hyphasis River in 325 BC, Alexander the Great crossed the area after sailing south to the coast of the Indian Ocean on his way back to Babylon. Upon reaching the Ocean, Alexander the Great divided his forces in half, sending half back by sea to Susa under the command of Nearchus.[1] The other half of his army was to accompany him on a march through the Gedrosian desert, inland from the ocean.[2] Throughout the 60 day march through the desert, Alexander lost at least 12,000 soldiers, in addition to countless livestock, camp followers, and most of his baggage train.[3] Some historians say he lost three-quarters of his army to the harsh desert conditions along the way.[4] However, this figure was likely based on exaggerated numbers in his forces prior to the march, which were likely in the range of no less than 30,000 soldiers.[5]

There are two competing theories for the purpose of Alexander the Great's decision to march through the desert rather than along the more hospitable coast. The first argues that this was an attempt to punish his men for their refusal to continue eastward at the Hyphasis River.[6] The other argues that Alexander was attempting to imitate and succeed in the actions of Cyrus the Great, who had failed to cross the desert.[7] The decision to cross the Gedrosian Desert, whatever his intentions, is regarded as the largest blunder in Alexander the Great's Asiatic campaign.

The region later became part of the Maurya Empire of India, following the Seleucid–Mauryan war.[8]

Etymology[edit]

It is likely that Gedrosia was the Hellenic form of Sanskrit "Gāndhārasya" (meaning "belonging to Gandhara"), which the people living in Gandhara probably used as a self-identification when announcing their country to the Greeks. It was hellenized as Gedrosia.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [A.B. Bosworth, "Conquest and Empire: The Reign of Alexander the Great." 1988. pg 139]
  2. ^ [Ibid, pg. 142]
  3. ^ [Ibid, pg 145]
  4. ^ Plutarch, The Life of Alexander, 66.
  5. ^ [A.B. Bosworth, "Conquest and Empire: The Reign of Alexander the Great." 1988. pg 146]
  6. ^ [Waldemar Heckel, "The Wars of Alexander the Great." 2002. pg. 68]
  7. ^ [A.B. Bosworth, "Conquest and Empire: The Reign of Alexander the Great." 1988. pg 146]
  8. ^ Saul, David: War: From Ancient Egypt to Iraq pg. 362