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Battle of Raphia, 217 BC animated battle map

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Ptolemy IV versus Antiochus III the Great: An Egyptian army under Plotemy confronts a very similar Seleucid army under Antiochus. This battle will not be decided by either side’s opening maneuvers so what kind of maneuver will decide this battle? Also known as the Battle of Gaza. Click on images below to view PowerPoint presentation. | Legend |
This battle seems to have very little long term impact; two more Syrian wars were fought within a century. The battle is unique in that it features a rising power being defeated by a falling power so it is understandable that its consequences were more immediate than anything else.
While earlier ancient battles were generally decided by which infantry phalanx could push the other back until rout, it is rare for this time period. By this time, infantry phalanxes were mainly deployed as a pinning force so cavalry strike forces could decide the day in decisive manner. Ptolemy was deficient of strike forces compared to Antiochus and successfully brought the battle down to its most basic level to win. 
This battle is a perfect example as to why I need viewers to suggest battles. I had never heard of this battle when it was suggested but was initially intrigued by the nature of this battle because it was not formulaic as some masterpieces are. When you have a list of roughly one hundred battles you have researched and seriously consider animating in the near future with another one hundred you still need to research, any battle that can stand out is a treat. In fact, just as an exercise on your own: take a battle or two from each era and compare them. One will be shocked at how similar the tactics and strategies employed are across history. Sometimes I must cross a battle off the “maybe” list because I feel I have already animated it. Anyways, thank you for suggesting this battle because I do not know everything and definitely need some guidance sometimes.
– Jonathan Webb
Works Consulted
Polybius. The Histories of Polybius. Bloomington: Indiana University, 1962.
Rickard, J. “Battle of Raphia, 22 June 217 BC.” History of War. (accessed May 24, 2009).
Warry, John. Warfare in the Classical World. London: Salamander, 1980.

Antioch III the Great:
Egyptian cavalry:
Egyptian infantry:
Egyptian peltast:
Egyptian war elephant:
Ptolemy IV:
Seleucid cavalry:
Seleucid infantry:
Seleucid peltasts:
Seleucid war elephant:

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  1. 2 Comments to “Battle of Raphia, 217 BC animated battle map”

  2. This is excellent!

    By Brian Varaday on Aug 7, 2010 at 12:41 am

  1. 1 Trackback(s)

  2. Jan 24, 2014: After 2,000 years, Ptolemy’s war elephants are revealed | dreb

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