Tuesday 12 October 2021

The Triakontaschoinos 275 BC

"Land of the Thirty Schoinoi" described a region dividing Ptolemaic Egypt from the Nubian kingdom of Meroe. From here, piratical raids by the Nubian forced Ptolemy II Philadelphus (284 BC – 246 BC) to send an army and seize the region and eradicate their presence. This was of course of primary importance, but there were other concerns, such as securing the gold mines located there and demonstrate Ptolemaic rule over the native population of Upper Egypt, thereby eliminating any potential threat of rebellion.


The campaign took place in an area between the First and Second Cataracts of the Nile River, known to be a haven for Nubian raiders. Choked with boulders, the waters between the two-cataract made navigation by ships impossible, neutralising any option of a naval landing by the Ptolemaic army. Overland, the march southward was for the most part over arid and difficult terrain.

Terrain pieces to be placed by the defending Nubian are; 1 x waterway, 2 x difficult hills, 1 x dune and if playing the double size command option, add 1 x BUA.

Ptolemaic force

1 x General (3Kn), 1 x Xystophoroi (3Kn), 1 x Tarentine horse (LH), 2 x Macedonian phalangites (4Pk), 5 x Greek and mercenary peltasts (3/4Ax), 1 x javelinmen (Ps), 1 x Cretan archers (Ps).


1 x General (Cv), 1 x cavalry (Cv), 2 x tribal archers (3Bw), 5 x tribal spearmen (Sp), 2 x tribal swordsmen (4Bd), 1 x herdsmen with bows (Ps).

Note: The composition of the Ptolemaic force has been adjusted to reflect the declining number of Indian elephants as its source had long been blocked by Seleucus. A victorious campaign by Ptolemy II would open potential trade route southward to procure the African breed.



Reaching the First Cataract, the Ptolemaic force deployed in echelon formation hoping to pin the elusive Nubian against the eastern bank of the Nile River. Encountering stiff resistance by Nubian spearmen, the assault lost momentum resulting in the phalanx becoming isolated from its auxiliary support resulting in heavy loss of casualties, compelling the Greeks to retreat (4 – 2).

Catching the Nubian in the open, the Greeks deployed a strong right wing with all the cavalry and the phalanx leaving the auxilia to form a left wing. The Greek right wing bowled over the Nubian opposition to roll up the Nubian army and earn a decisive victory (4 – 1).

Recovering from their defeat, the Nubian took a defensive position near the Second Cataract. Both sides deployed in similar formations as before, but the Nubian held the advantage of terrain protecting both its flanks. Nubian archers on both flanks contained the advance of the Greek wings leaving the auxilia and phalanx to make first contact. Nubian swordsmen made quick work of destroying two units of auxilia forcing the Strategos to commit his bodyguard and the Xystophoroi. Unfortunately, this came too late as the entire left gave way forcing the Greeks to retreat (4 – 1).

A resumption of the campaign was postponed as the situation in Syria and potential invasion by Antiochus I required immediate attention.

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