Research Article


DOI :10.26650/anar.2021.24.898025   IUP :10.26650/anar.2021.24.898025    Full Text (PDF)

The Battle of Tigranocerta (69 BC): A Reconsideration

Muzaffer Demir

The ancient city of Tigranocerta (Tigranakert) is thought to be localized to the site of Ancient A/Erzen near Bozhöyük, which is in the district of Siirt Province. The Armenian king, Tigranes II, established this city in 76 BC, as it would be more at the center of the borders of his empire, which had spread over Cappadocia, Cilicia, Syria, Palestine, and as far as Parthia. This city, described in ancient sources as rich and magnificent, became the empire’s new capital, where many people from various areas, especially Cappadocia, were forced to immigrate and settle. In 69 BC, it witnessed one of history’s most significant battles between the Roman proconsul Lucullus and Tigranes II. Before the pitched battle near the city, it appears that the legates of Lucullus, Sextilius, and Murena had been sent out to harass and cut off those who marched to the support of Tigranes II. They seem to have defeated the  The ancient city of Tigranocerta (Tigranakert) is thought to be localized to the site of Ancient A/Erzen near Bozhöyük, which is in the district of Siirt Province. The Armenian king, Tigranes II, established this city in 76 BC, as it would be more at the center of the borders of his empire, which had spread over Cappadocia, Cilicia, Syria, Palestine, and as far as Parthia. This city, described in ancient sources as rich and magnificent, became the empire’s new capital, where many people from various areas, especially Cappadocia, were forced to immigrate and settle. In 69 BC, it witnessed one of history’s most significant battles between the Roman proconsul Lucullus and Tigranes II. Before the pitched battle near the city, it appears that the legates of Lucullus, Sextilius, and Murena had been sent out to harass and cut off those who marched to the support of Tigranes II. They seem to have defeated the  

DOI :10.26650/anar.2021.24.898025   IUP :10.26650/anar.2021.24.898025    Full Text (PDF)

Tigranokerta Savaşı (MÖ 69): Yeni Bir Gözden Geçirme

Muzaffer Demir

Tigranokerta (Tigranakert) kentinin Siirt İli Kurtalan İlçesi Bozhöyük köyü yakınlarındaki bugünkü Antik A/Erzen yerleşimi olduğu düşünülmektedir. Armenia kralı II. Tigranes, MÖ 76 yılından itibaren Kappadokia, Kilikia, Suriye ve Parthia içlerine kadar yayılmış olan imparatorluğunun sınırlarının daha merkezinde olduğundan dolayı bu kenti kurmuştur. Zengin ve görkemli olduğu söylenen kent, imparatorluğun yeni başkenti olmuş ve başta Kappadokialılar olmak üzere pek çok halk burada iskâna zorlanmıştır. Kent aynı zamanda MÖ 69 yılında II. Tigranes ve Roma generali Lucullus arasında tarihin önemli savaşlarından birisine sahne olmuştur. Roma proconsulu Lucullus’un legatuslarından Sextilius ve Murena, kent yakınlarında meydan savaşı başlamadan önce düşman destek birliklerinin önünü keserek zafer elde etmişlerdir. Sonrasında Sextilius, Mankaios’un garnizon komutanlığını yaptığı kenti kuşatmaya başlamıştır. II. Tigranes’in Lucullus’un ordusunu sayıca küçük gördüğünden müttefiki Pontos (Karadeniz) kralı VI. Mithradates’in meydan savaşından kaçınması gerektiği yönündeki tavsiyesini dinlemediği iddia edilmektedir. Ancak Lucullus II. Tigranes’i ağır bir yenilgiye uğratarak kenti ele geçirmiş, yağmalamış ve hatta zorla iskân ettirilen yabancı nüfusunun evlerine geri dönmesini sağlamıştır. Biz bu çalışmamızda, ilk önce savaş öncesi durumu, sonrasında da halen tartışma konusu olan her iki tarafın asker sayısını açıklamaya çalışacağız. Sonuçta, özellikle her iki tarafın asker sayısı hakkında bazı antik yazarların verdiği abartılı rakamların tekrar gözden geçirilmesi ve bu bağlamda savaş stratejilerinde göz ardı edilen bazı noktalar üzerinde de yeni değerlendirmeler yapılması gerekmektedir.


EXTENDED ABSTRACT


The city of Tigranocerta (Tigranakert) is localized as today’s Ancient A/Erzen near the village of Bozhöyük in the Kurtalan District of Siirt Province. In 69 BC, it was the scene of one of the most important battles in history between the Armenian king Tigranes II and the Roman general Lucullus. Significant conflicts took place before the field battle started. At the first stage, while Lucullus advanced to Tigranocerta, he attacked some Armenian cities in the region and defeated Mithrobarzanes, whom Tigranes II sent against him. At the second stage, the vanguard troops under the command of Sextilius both besieged Tigranokerta and successfully blocked and destroyed the Arab support forces from the South. Next, Murena struck the army of Tigranes II, who was going to collect his army from the north of the Taurus mountains, but the king managed to flee to the North. Meanwhile, Lucullus with his remaining army marched on Tigranocerta to support the siege. The success of the Roman army at the beginning of the war by blocking the Armenian support forces and preventing them from gathering reinforcements from the strategic areas in the North and the South contradicts the claim that Tigranes II returned and fought the Romans with an extremely superior number of soldiers.

Plutarch built his war scenario on the humiliation of the barbarians, suffering defeat despite their great numerical superiority and entertaining the Roman audience. One must approach with caution the words of Tigranes II as mentioned by Plutarch, who allegedly mocked the number of Roman soldiers. Plutarch seems to have succeeded in his scenario because the same words were repeated by Appian and Memnon, who wrote after him. Meanwhile, Plutarch glorified Lucullus by emphasizing the arrogance of Tigranes II.

The numbers reported by Plutarch and his successor Appian regarding the size of Armenia’s army seem exaggerated. Plutarch preferred to use Lucullus’s own propaganda letters to the senate as well as the source of Lucullus’s close friend Archias. Eutropius stated that the Armenian soldiers totaled 700.000, most likely either a copying error or propaganda. As reported by Festus, this number should be 70.000. Both Memnon and Phlegon preferred to present an approximately similar number. Meanwhile, Plutarch and Appian were inclined to report that the size of the Roman military forces was quite small. Frontinus reported the number to be around 15.000 and Eutropius 18.000, but these numbers also seem less. As Plutarch partially and indirectly confirmed, Lucullus’s army is actually around 30.000, almost half of Tigranes II’s.

Instead of long-term and tedious attrition operations, Lucullus quickly took action against Tigranes II by changing tactics. Mithradates VI was delayed in joining the army of Tigranes II in battle. As a result of all these maneuvers by Lucullus, Tigranes II was forced to retreat. He entered the field battle by gathering more inexperienced troops composed of foreign allies. While the size of these military associations seems relatively large, they acted cumbersome and sluggish because of the lack of solidarity and organization among themselves. Lucullus, on the other hand, led experienced and coordinated troops. By using a clever tactic, he pretended to retreat, which would lead the enemy to think that they became victorious, thus breaking their ranks forward on the retreating Roman army and dispersing. Lucullus then swiftly moved and attempted to surround the enemy from behind with his legions, attacking their armored cavalry and carriages, causing panic and chaos among the enemy forces. The enemy troops were defeated as they lost coordination. Tigranes II had to leave the battlefield and flee.

Although Lucullus reached one of the highlights of his career with his victory at Tigranocerta, his luck began to turn because of his ambition. The Roman soldiers, who had served under him for six years, had accumulated a significant amount of money and property from the looting and therefore wanted to return to their homes as soon as possible. However, Lucullus aspired to strengthen his reputation in Rome by winning a victory against the Parthians as well. When Lucullus received the news that after taking command from Tigranes II Mithradates VI had made a secret agreement with the Parthians, and considering the unwillingness of his soldiers, he gave up on his expedition against the Parthians. Meanwhile, he decided to march up to Artaxata, where Tigranes II had withdrawn his forces. Yet a general uprising started in the army as a result of the heavy winter conditions and the lack of supplies; hence, the Armenian campaign was unsuccessful. A short while later, the senate dismissed Lucullus.  


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APA

Demir, M. (2021). The Battle of Tigranocerta (69 BC): A Reconsideration. Anatolian Research, 0(24), 145-176. https://doi.org/10.26650/anar.2021.24.898025


AMA

Demir M. The Battle of Tigranocerta (69 BC): A Reconsideration. Anatolian Research. 2021;0(24):145-176. https://doi.org/10.26650/anar.2021.24.898025


ABNT

Demir, M. The Battle of Tigranocerta (69 BC): A Reconsideration. Anatolian Research, [Publisher Location], v. 0, n. 24, p. 145-176, 2021.


Chicago: Author-Date Style

Demir, Muzaffer,. 2021. “The Battle of Tigranocerta (69 BC): A Reconsideration.” Anatolian Research 0, no. 24: 145-176. https://doi.org/10.26650/anar.2021.24.898025


Chicago: Humanities Style

Demir, Muzaffer,. The Battle of Tigranocerta (69 BC): A Reconsideration.” Anatolian Research 0, no. 24 (Dec. 2021): 145-176. https://doi.org/10.26650/anar.2021.24.898025


Harvard: Australian Style

Demir, M 2021, 'The Battle of Tigranocerta (69 BC): A Reconsideration', Anatolian Research, vol. 0, no. 24, pp. 145-176, viewed 7 Dec. 2021, https://doi.org/10.26650/anar.2021.24.898025


Harvard: Author-Date Style

Demir, M. (2021) ‘The Battle of Tigranocerta (69 BC): A Reconsideration’, Anatolian Research, 0(24), pp. 145-176. https://doi.org/10.26650/anar.2021.24.898025 (7 Dec. 2021).


MLA

Demir, Muzaffer,. The Battle of Tigranocerta (69 BC): A Reconsideration.” Anatolian Research, vol. 0, no. 24, 2021, pp. 145-176. [Database Container], https://doi.org/10.26650/anar.2021.24.898025


Vancouver

Demir M. The Battle of Tigranocerta (69 BC): A Reconsideration. Anatolian Research [Internet]. 7 Dec. 2021 [cited 7 Dec. 2021];0(24):145-176. Available from: https://doi.org/10.26650/anar.2021.24.898025 doi: 10.26650/anar.2021.24.898025


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Demir, Muzaffer. The Battle of Tigranocerta (69 BC): A Reconsideration”. Anatolian Research 0/24 (Dec. 2021): 145-176. https://doi.org/10.26650/anar.2021.24.898025



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Submitted16.03.2021
Accepted30.04.2021
Published Online09.08.2021

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