Alexander’s Siege of Gaza (332 B.C.E.)
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Alexander III the Great vs. forces
under Bah’s, the Persian governor of Gaza
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Gaza, Palestine
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Conquest
OUTCOME: Alexander conquered Gaza by means of titanic
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS:
In 332 B.C.E. Alexander III the Great laid siege to the
Phoenician seaport of Tyre. While he apportioned his
main force to this work, he sent a lesser army to seize the
rest of Syria and Palestine. So overawed were the peoples
of these regions that they capitulated without resistance—
except in the case of Gaza.
In the face of fierce resistance at Gaza, Alexander personally
led his main force there and began a new siege. The
brief war against Gaza was marked by the construction of
one of the greatest military siege projects of all time.
Alexander transformed the landscape by raising a spectacular
earthen mound 250 feet high with a circumference of
a quarter mile at its base. On this artificial hill he mounted
his ballistae and catapults. Thus, he did not attain the high
ground, he made it, and within two months Gaza, under
ceaseless bombardment, fell. His troops stormed the
breached walls of Gaza and ruthlessly sacked it.
Further reading: Flavius Arrianus, The Campaigns of
Alexander (New York: Viking, 1976); Peter Green, Alexander
of Macedon, 356–323 B.C.E.: A Historical Biography
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).