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Phalanx warfare: Closing of the ranks
(09-14-2016, 03:32 PM)Bryan Wrote: For terminology in the Othismos debate, I'm tracking that there is the Orthodox side, who believe in the rugby scrimmage being the primary tactic. Then there is the Heresy side, who believe spear fencing was the primary tactic. Paul, what can you name your theory, since it appears to be a mix of both? Hybrid?

I call it the Crowd-othismos model, though in keeping with the religious terminology, I have called it "Reconstructionist".  It hinges on the fact that the Orthodox was completely wrong about the initial charge adding momentum that provides an advantage in pushing- no matter how hard individuals hit they will not break formed ranks, only a slow push of other formed ranks can push them back.  Once you eliminate the need to charge right into othismos, you can account for an initial period of spear fencing.  This is a version of the "Late-othismos" concept of Cawkwell, but he had no idea of pushing mechanics and crazily had the men fighting at 6' frontage in the initial spear fencing.

So to summarize arguments and predictions: 

Orthodoxy: Charge directly into pushing, one good underhand thrust on the way in like a mounted lancer, sideways pushing with the side of the shoulder in the bowl of the aspis.  Heavy armor and the aspis handicaps hoplites in single combat. All of this, including drill, began at the time of Tyrtaios.

Heretics: No pushing, language is figurative. Hoplites fought until the classical period as diffuse mobs, often throwing spears, alongside archers and cavalry in a manner shown by stone aged New Guinean peoples.  No drill for hoplites until well into the classical period.

Mathew's theory: Chris Mathew put forth that othismos occurred, but not when men met in close order of 45cm. A clever counter to Orthodoxy is that men could not charge into close order spears.  This is true, but 45cm frontage is a Hellenistic anachronism- you cannot form in 45cm with a 90cm aspis even theoretically because there is a bicep between shield rims.  So at best he is describing men at around 60cm frontage meeting men at 90cm frontage, not a 2:1 advantage.

My Crowd-Othismos hypothesis: Pushing in battle was seen early, but is not something that occurred in all or even most battles, and accounts for the shape of the aspis.  Without an aspis you die in the press of a crowd just as people do all the time in crowd disasters.  That is essentially the only point that is required of my theory.  But based on the physics of pushing, there is no need for an immediate push and I can account for all of the spear fencing and battles won at spear length happening in battles that either had not yet, or never got the crowd-like state during shield-on-shield sword fighting.  Early archaic hoplites fought by throwing spears initially, then after some period of missile dueling, could close to fight with spear and sword- potentially entering a crowd-like state.  This was NOT an offensive phalanx like we see in the Classical period, but something much more like a Fulcum or Saxon shield wall- a far better analogy for how armored men duel with missiles than stone aged naked warriors.  Only in the last phase when they charge to spear range do they look like an offensive phalanx.  Later in the Classical period, hoplites are charging through missile range to go directly to spear fencing- which could obviously also move on to shield-on-shield.  No strict drill for most of the period except for elites and mercenaries.  Most of the formations were self-organized as men simply grouped by tribes.

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RE: Phalanx warfare: Closing of the ranks - by Paul Bardunias - 09-14-2016, 04:32 PM

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