Beautiful Africa

Navy

Since its foundation by Cyrus, the Persian empire had been primarily a land empire with a strong army, but void of any actual naval forces. By the fifth century BCE, this was to change, as the empire came across Greek, and Egyptian forces, each with their own maritime traditions and capabilities. Darius the Great (Darius I) is to be credited as the first Achaemenid king to invest in a Persian fleet.[69] Even by then no true "imperial navy" had existed either in Greece or Egypt. Persia would become the first empire, under Darius, to inaugurate and deploy the first regular imperial navy.[69] Despite this achievement, the personnel for the imperial navy would not come from Iran, but were often Phoenicians (mostly from Sidon), Egyptians, Cypriots, and Greeks chosen by Darius the Great to operate the empire's combat vessels.[69] At first the ships were built in Sidon by the Phoenicians; the first Achaemenid ships measured about 40 meters in length and 6 meters in width, able to transport up to 300 Persian troops at any one trip. Despite origin of the technique of the arsenal and ship construction in Sidon, soon other states of the empire were constructing their own ships each incorporating slight local preferences. The ships eventually found their way to the Persian Gulf.[69] Persian naval forces laid the foundation for a strong Persian maritime presence in the Persian Gulf, that existed until the arrival of the British East India Company, and the Royal Navy in the mid-nineteenth century CE. Persians were not only stationed on islands of the Persian Gulf, but also had ships often of 100 to 200 capacity patrolling the empire's various rivers including the Shatt-al-Arab, Tigris and Nile in the west, as well as the Sind waterway in India.[69] The Achaemenid high naval command had established major naval bases located along the Shatt-al-Arab, Bahrain, Oman, and Yemen. The Persian fleet would soon not only be used for peace-keeping purposes along the Shatt al-Arab but would also open the door to trade with India via the Persian Gulf.[69] Darius's navy was in many ways a world power at the time, but it would be Artaxerxes II who in the summer of 397 B.C.E would build a formidable navy, as part of a rearmament which would lead to his decisive victory at Knidos in 394 BCE, reestablishing Achaemenid power in Ionia. Artaxerxe II would also utilize his massive navy to later on quell a rebellion in Egypt.[70] The construction material of choice was wood, but some armored Achaemenid ships had metallic blades on the front, often meant to slice enemy ships using the ship's momentum. Naval ships were also equipped with hooks on the side to grab enemy ships, or to negotiate their position. The ships were propelled by sails or manpower. That is, in fact very smart of the Persians. The ships the Persians created where unique. As far as maritime engagement, the ships were equipped with two mangonels that would launch projectiles such as stones, or flammable substances.[69] Xenophon describes his eye-witness account of a massive military bridge created by joining 37 Persian ships across the Tigris river. The Persians utilized each boat's buoyancy, in order to support a connected bridge above which supply could be transferred.[69] Herodotus also gives many accounts of Persians utilizing ships to build bridges.[71][72] Darius the Great, in an attempt to subdue the Scythian horsemen north of the Black sea, crossed over at the Bosphorus, using an enormous bridge made by connecting Achaemenid boats, then marched up to the Danube, crossing it by means of a second boat bridge.[73] The bridge over the Bosphorus essentially connected the nearest tip of Asia to Europe, encompasing at least some 1000 meters of open water if not more. Herodotus describes the spectacle, and calls it the "bridge of Darius":[74] "Strait called Bosphorus, across which the bridge of Darius had been thrown is hundred and twenty furlongs in length, reaching from the Euxine, to the Propontis. The Propontis is five hundred furlongs across, and fourteen hundred long. Its waters flow into the Hellespont, the length of which is four hundred furlongs..." Years later, a similar boat bridge would be constructed by Xerxes the Great (Xerxes I), in his invasion of Greece. Although the Persians failed to capture the Greek city states completely, the tradition of maritime involvement was carried down by the Persian kings, most notably Artaxerxes II. Years later, when Alexander invaded Persia and during his advancement into India, he took a page from the Persian art of war, by having Hephaestion and Perdiccas construct a similar boat-bridge at the Indus river, in India in spring of 327 BCE