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Battle of Daras, 530 animated battle map

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Belisarius versus Firuz: A Byzantine army under Belisarius chooses to fight a Sassanid army under Firuz outside the walls of a fortress rather than from within. Will Belisarius’ defensive position hold out against Firuz’ attacks? Also known as the Battle of Dara. Click on images below to view PowerPoint presentation. | Legend |
The glory of this battle was overshadowed by Belisarius’ defeat at Callinicum in 531. While a loss at this battle would have hurt Byzantium, the battle stands out for its tactical intrigue and little more.
This battle illustrates the successful transition from defensive to offensive maneuver. Napoleon stated “The whole art of war consists in a well-reasoned and extremely circumspect defensive, followed by a rapid and audacious attack.” While Belisarius achieved the former, his attack was hardly audacious and the Sassanid army was repelled and not destroyed.
This is another battle I have animated from Goodenough’s Tactical Genius in Battle. Details regarding this battle vary. Sources disagree on the exact shape of the Byzantine ditch and the relative timing of the two Sassanid cavalry attacks.
– Jonathan Webb
Works Consulted
Chandler, David. The Art of Warfare on Land. Norwich: Jarold & Sons Ltd, 1974.
Dupuy, Trevor N. The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 BC to the Present, Fourth Edition. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.
Goodenough, Simon. Tactical Genius in Battle. Oxford: Phodian Press, 1979.
Haldon, John. The Byzantine Wars: Battles and Campaigns of the Byzantine Era. Stroud: Tempus, 2001.
Procopius. The Persian War. Edited by T.E. Page and W.H.D. Rouse. London: William Heinemann, 1943.
United States Military Academy History Department. “Atlas for Ancient Warfare.” United States Military Academy. (accessed Aug. 11, 2009).

Byzantine soldiers:
Sassanid soldiers:

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  1. 5 Comments to “Battle of Daras, 530 animated battle map”

  2. All accounts i have red of this battle (including a new Belisarius book that came out in April 2009) state that Belisarius refused to pursue the fleeing Persian army because the Persians were notorious for being able to rally and re-strike. If Belisarius’ army was out in the field against a much more rapid Persian army, even one running away,it would have been a total defeat for Belisarius once the Persians rallied. So, I think its prudent that Beliarius chose not to pursue the Persians.

    By Ziggy on Sep 29, 2009 at 4:12 pm

  3. Belisarius accomplished the most with very little resources – he may have lost a battle – but the persian army lost much more (ref to the battle lost in 531) –

    By Steve on Nov 12, 2009 at 3:10 pm

  4. You might find this article of mine of interest: I visited the battle site three times and concluded it was about 3 km south of the walls of Dara. Here is the reference and it can be found in most UK university libraries:
    Christopher Lillington-Martin, “Archaeological and Ancient Literary Evidence for a Battle near Dara Gap, Turkey, AD 530: Topography, Texts & Trenches”, British Archaeological Reports (BAR) –S1717, 2007 The Late Roman Army in the Near East from Diocletian to the Arab Conquest Proceedings of a colloquium held at Potenza, Acerenza and Matera, Italy (May 2005) edited by Ariel S. Lewin and Pietrina Pellegrini with the aid of Zbigniew T. Fiema and Sylvain Janniard. ISBN 978 1 4073 0161 7. (pages 299-311).

    By Christopher Lillington-Martin on Apr 27, 2010 at 8:47 pm

  1. 2 Trackback(s)

  2. Jan 5, 2013: Episode 17 – 527-532, Part 1: The Battle of Dara « The History of Byzantium
  3. Aug 30, 2014: Episode 17 – 527-532, Part 1: The Battle of Dara | The History of Byzantium

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