Siege of Gaza

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Not to be confused with Blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Siege of Gaza
Part of Wars of Alexander the Great
Gaza painting - David Roberts.jpg
Painting of Gaza by David Roberts
Date October, 332 BC
Location Gaza
Result Macedonian victory.
Territorial
changes
Alexander gains Egypt.
Belligerents
Macedon,
Greek allies
Achaemenid Empire
Commanders and leaders
Alexander the Great
Hephaestion
Batis (POW)
Strength
45,000 15,000 Egyptians, 46,000 total
Casualties and losses
3,760 19,000

During the Siege of Gaza, Alexander the Great, by utilizing the engines he had employed against Tyre, succeeded in reaching the walls. After three unsuccessful assaults, the stronghold was taken by storm.[1]

Batis expected to hold Egypt in subjection until the Great King could raise another army and confront Alexander in a battle from this city.[2] It was on an eminence, on the edge of a desert from which the surrounding area could be easily controlled. It controlled the main road that went from the Persian province of Syria to Egypt. The city, over 60 feet high, was traditionally employed to control the surrounding area, which even then was a hotbed of dissent.[2] Batis was aware that Alexander was marching down the coast, as he had just been victorious at Tyre. He therefore victualed Gaza for a long siege.[2] It is not unlikely that he was aware of Alexander's scheme of controlling the entire Mediterranean coast before moving into the interior of Persia.

Siege[edit]

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

Upon arriving, Alexander camped near the southern side of the city and deemed the southern walls as the weakest.[3] Near these weak points, Alexander built the mounds that were eventually used to enter the city.[3] It is alleged the mounds were built quickly, despite the engineers' belief they could not be completed due to the nature of Gaza's fortifications.[4]

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. Alexander's shoulder was injured in the attempt.[4] According to Arrian, the rest of the mound was completed shortly after, around the whole of Gaza.[4] 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.[4] After three attempts to enter the city, the Macedonians finally entered the city. The Gazans fought bitterly.

Consequences of the siege[edit]

Batis, the commander of the fortress of Gaza, refused to surrender to Alexander. When Gaza was taken, the male population was put to the sword and the women and children were sold into slavery.

According to the Roman historian Quintus Curtius Rufus, Batis was killed by Alexander in imitation of Achilles' treatment of the fallen Hector. 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. 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.

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[edit]

Coordinates: 31°31′N 34°27′E / 31.517°N 34.450°E / 31.517; 34.450