Alexander III route from Tyre to the Battle of Gaugamela site, and from there to Babylon

Why Is The Battle Of Gaugamela Called Broken ‘Camel’s Back’?

Conny Waters – – Alexander the Great (356 BC – 323 BC) rejected the peace terms of the Persian Emperor Darius in 331 BC.

Darius offered him much, and it included the land located west of the Euphrates River. Additionally, Alexander could get a large sum of money, and Darius’ daughter’s hand in marriage.

Alexander III route from Tyre to the Battle of Gaugamela site, and from there to Babylon

Alexander III route from Tyre to the Battle of Gaugamela site, and from there to Babylon. Map – credit: Dimitrios Dendrinos, University of Kansas/

But the great military leader refused, and instead, he marched across the Tigris River into northern Mesopotamia. Darius assembled an even more massive army than the one he had led at the Battle of Issus in 333 BC.

Contemporary records claim Darius was in command of up to one million soldiers.

The Persian Emperor was determined to fight on open ground where his large army and 200 formidable Scythian chariots would be useful. The land on which they fought on October 1 was close to the village of Gaugamela. The name of the place means “camel’s back.” Gaugamela (probably Tel Gomel) was once located in the vicinity of Erbil, modern Iraqi Kurdistan.

Despite being heavily outnumbered, Alexander advanced, forcing Darius to attack with his chariots in the center. He conducted a careful survey of the enemy and ground. He also not always listened to Parmenion, one of the leading generals in Macedonia, and Alexander’s primary general, who suggested a surprise night attack on Darius’s forces. Parmenion’s suggestion was dismissed because Alexander wanted to defeat Darius in open battle, but did not rush to the fight, being aware that his only chance to succeed against such odds (a million soldiers!) was strategic and tactical perfection. His tactical movement enabled him to open their ranks and attack the forces of Darius from the sides.

At the same time, he lured the large Persian army toward the wings before making a wedge-shaped attack on the Persian line, to cut through enemy lines and confuse his cavalry forces and, thus, weaken them.

By making this decision, he endangered Darius’s position, who understood that there was nothing more to do than escape, and so he did. Alexander remained on the field, and the battle was over. He was once again victorious.

The most important was that he finally broke the Persian Empire for good, and it took place at Gaugamela (“Camel’s Back”).

Alexander captured the Persian royal train and marched into Babylon.

By January 330 BC, he had taken Darius’s capital Persepolis and proclaimed himself King of Persia. Darius escaped but soon was murdered by Bessus, his relative and prominent Persian Satrap of Bactria.

Written by Conny Waters – Staff Writer

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Expand for references


Cían Harte, The Conquest of Persia: Alexander, the Strategist

Patrick, Sean, Alexander the Great: The Macedonian Who Conquered the World

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