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Phalanx warfare: Closing of the ranks
(09-13-2016, 04:58 PM)Bryan Wrote: Does the extra bodies in depth help with pushing? Or do they just shore up, preventing backwards movement from the promachoi?

If a truck were to very slowly push against a file of eight men, would it be any different in pressure if it were 25-50 men in the file instead? If you added enough men, could you stop the truck's movement without killing the men in the front ranks? (that is assuming the shield's don't crack)

Our experiments show that after around 12 men you are not adding very much new pushing force per man- maybe 5-10% of mass.  This comes from problems coordinating moving together.  Probably after 16 ranks you are not so much adding force, but as you say, providing as wall behind the men who are pushing. Even if 50 ranks of men can't add the full force of 50 men to the push, they will add their weight as inertia when being pushed back.  Ironically, your efforts at pushing back 50 ranks forces them together to resist.  The other thing that deep ranks can do is cause random shockwaves of force to move through the file.  If force projection breaks down due to an inability to coordinate moving in unison and squishing tight as the ranks deepen, then sometimes we would expect men to achieve a moment of coordination by accident.  In crowd disasters this happens all the time- sort of how waves at the beach sometimes coincide perfectly and form a large wave.

This is why 12 ranks of Spartans could stand up to 50 ranks of Thebans without getting bowled off the field (you will find that an often used objection to othismos).  In fact, 12 ranks of men who knew how to coordinate their swaying forward, could in theory defeat 50 men who do not.

One thing I would like to test is which position to overlap two ranks of spears in.  We usually had the dory of the rear man between the dory of the front man and front man's head.  This is probably because you don't want to stand behind a sauroter.  But I think with the proper grip you could have your spear to the right of the guy in front.  Generally I would not want anything between my head and my spear.

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RE: Phalanx warfare: Closing of the ranks - by Paul Bardunias - 09-13-2016, 06:35 PM

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