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Ancient Battles

One of the earliest battles in recorded history, this battle (1274 BC) was fought near the Orontes River in modern-day Syria between Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II and the Hittite king Muwatalli II. Battle of Kadesh (1274 BC)
Persian King Darius I’s invasion of mainland Greece ended with a decisive victory for Miltiades and the Athenians at this battle (490 BC). The defeated Persian commanders were Datis and Artaphernes. Battle of Marathon (490 BC)
the first battle of the second Persian invasion of Greece. Although the Persians under Xerxes I and his general Mardonius defeated the Spartans, King Leonidas and his Spartan troops put up a heroic defense of the pass at ____________ (the “hot gates”). Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC)
This naval battle (480 BC) was a major turning point in the Greco-Persian Wars, as it signaled the beginning of the end of Persian attempts to conquer Greece. The battle is named after an island in the Saronic Gulf near Athens. Battle of Salamis (480 BC)
This battle (405 BC) on the Hellespont (Dardanelles) ended the Peloponnesian War and the Athenian Empire. After a setback at the Battle of Arginusae in 406 BC, the Spartans reinstated Lysander as the commander of their fleet. Battle of Aegospotami (405 BC)
After the Battle of Granicus, this was the second major battle between Alexander the Great and the Persian Empire, and the first to feature Darius III. The battle was fought along the Pinarus River near present day Iskenderun in Turkey’s Hatay province. Battle of Issus (333 BC)
The largest battle of the Second Punic War, this battle represented one of the worst defeats in Roman history. The Carthaginians were led by Hannibal, while the Romans were led by the consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro. Battle of Cannae (216 BC)
The final battle of the Second Punic War, it was fought near Carthage in modern-day Tunisia. Scipio Africanus’s victory at the Battle of the Great Plains in 203 BC forced Hannibal to leave Italy and return to North Africa for the final showdown. Battle of Zama (202 BC)
Julius Caesar defeated the Celtic peoples of Gaul, establishing Roman rule of the lands beyond the Alps. The battle began when Caesar besieged Vercingetorix in the town of _______ shortly after the Roman defeat at Gergovia. Battle of Alesia (52 BC)
the fleet of Octavian defeated the combined forces of Cleopatra and Mark Antony at this battle near modern-day Preveza in the Ambracian Gulf of Greece. Battle of Actium (31 BC)
part of the civil war that ensued when Maxentius usurped the throne of the western half of the Roman Empire from Constantine. Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312 AD)
Taking place near modern Edirne, Turkey, this battle signalled the beginning of the spread of Germanic peoples into the Western Roman Empire. The Romans were led by the eastern emperor Valens, while the Goths were led by Fritigern. Battle of Adrianople (AD 378)
An epic battle between the Romans and the Huns fought in what is now France. The Roman army was commanded by Flavius Aetius and included Visigoths under Theodoric I, who was killed by an Ostrogoth during the battle. The Battle of Chalons (or Catalaunian Fields) (AD 451)
Although Ramses proclaimed a great victory for himself, he was lucky to achieve a stalemate after being ambushed by Hittite chariots. Battle of Kadesh (1274 BC)
Probably the largest chariot battle in history, with over 5,000 chariots engaged. The Egyptian chariots were smaller and faster than those used by the Hittites, which gave the Egyptians an advantage Battle of Kadesh (1274 BC)
Among the few Athenian dead of the battle were archon Callimachus and the general Stesilaos. Battle of Marathon (490 BC)
Legend has it that the Greek messenger Pheidippides ran to Athens with news of the victory, but collapsed upon arrival. This is the inspiration for the modern race Battle of Marathon (490 BC)
The Greeks were betrayed by Ephialtes, who told the Persians about a path that led behind the Spartans. Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC)
The battle was part of Themistocles’ plan to halt the advance of the Persians. The other part of his plan was to block the Persian navy at Artemisium, and a battle occurred there simultaneously. Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC)
Xerxes was so confident in victory that he watched the battle from a throne on the slopes of Mount Aegaleus. Battle of Salamis (480 BC)
The Athenian general Themistocles devised a plan to lure the large, slow Persian ships into the narrow straits where the Greek ships were able to outmaneuver and destroy much of the Persian fleet. Battle of Salamis (480 BC)
The Persian admiral Ariabignes was killed in hand-to-hand combat, and the Queen of Halicarnassus, Artemisia, had to sink some of her allies’ ships to escape. Battle of Salamis (480 BC)
The result was a complete victory for Sparta; only a fraction of the Athenian fleet survived, including the general Conon, and the ship Paralus, which brought the news of defeat to Athens. Battle of Aegospotami (405 BC)
Following the battle, the Spartans besieged Athens and forced its surrender. Battle of Aegospotami (405 BC)
Before the battle, Darius was able to surprise Alexander and cut him off from the main force of Macedonians. However, the battle ended with Darius fleeing the field and the capture of his tent and family. Battle of Issus (333 BC)
The battle was the subject of a 1528 painting by Albrecht Altdorfer, the leader of the Danube School. Battle of Issus (333 BC)
Hannibal employed a double-envelopment tactic, surrounded the Roman army, and destroyed it. Battle of Cannae (216 BC)
Although a total disaster for the Romans, it resulted in their adopting of the Fabian strategy, in which battles are avoided in favor of a war of attrition. This eventually wore down Hannibal’s army, and the Carthaginians had to leave Italy. Battle of Cannae (216 BC)
Prior to the battle, the Numidian king Masinissa switched sides, and brought his considerable cavalry force to join the Romans. Battle of Zama (202 BC)
This, coupled with Scipio’s strategy of opening up his lines to allow Carthaginian elephants through without harming his troops, led to a complete Roman victory. Battle of Zama (202 BC)
The Romans built a wall to surround the city (a “circumvallation”) and a second wall around that (a “contravallation”) to protect themselves from the Gaulish relief army under Commius. Battle of Alesia (52 BC)
When Commius launched a massive attack on the Romans, Caesar was able to defeat him and force the surrender of Vercingetorix. Battle of Alesia (52 BC)
Although the Romans were outnumbered by as much as four to one, they proved victorious in what was the turning point of the Gallic Wars. Battle of Alesia (52 BC)
Marcus Agrippa commanded Octavian’s fleet, which consisted of small, nimble Liburnian ships. Antony’s fleet consisted of massive Quinqueremes, which were less mobile. Battle of Actium (31 BC)
Following his victory in the battle, Octavian titled himself Princeps, and later Augustus. To some, Actium signals the end of the Roman Republic. Battle of Actium (31 BC)
Prior to the battle, Constantine supposedly had a vision of God promising victory to his forces if he painted his shields with the Chi-Rho, a Christian symbol. Battle of the Milvian Bridge (AD 312)
Constantine was indeed victorious, and Maxentius drowned in the Tiber River during the battle. Eventually, Constantine was able to abolish the Tetrarchy, become the sole ruler of the Roman Empire, and end persecution of the Christians. Battle of the Milvian Bridge (AD 312)
Eager for glory, Valens decided not to wait on reinforcements from the western emperor Gratian, and instead attacked the Goths. In the battle, over two-thirds of the Roman army was killed, including Valens. Battle of Adrianople (AD 378)
The battle was chronicled by Ammianus Marcellinus, who thought it so important that he ended his history of the Roman Empire with the battle. Battle of Adrianople (AD 378)
The Hunnic army was led by Attila, who was rampaging through Gaul. The battle ended with a victory for the Roman-Visigothic alliance, which stopped the Huns’ advance into Gaul. The Battle of Chalons (or Catalaunian Fields) (AD 451)
The next year, Attila invaded Italy; however, in 453, Attila died and his empire broke up shortly after. The Battle of Chalons (or Catalaunian Fields) (AD 451)
the final land battle during the second Persian invasion of Greece. Major Greek victory. Persia loses control of Attica and Boeotia Plataea (479 BC)
The Theban victory shattered Sparta’s immense influence over the Greek peninsula which Sparta had gained since its victory in the Peloponnesian War. Leuctra (371 BC)
Battle between Philip II of Macedon and a coalition of various Greek states, mainly Thebes and Athens. During the battle, the elite unit of Theban soldiers known as the Sacred Band of Thebes was wiped out completely Chaeronea (338 BC)
Decisive battle of Alexander the Great's invasion of the Persian Achaemenid Empire. Even though heavily outnumbered, Alexander emerged victorious due to his superior tactics and army. Fall of Darius III and the Persians Gaugamela (331 BC)
Battle between the Romans under the command of Consul Publius Decius Mus and the Greek king Pyrrhus of Epirus. Pyrrhus won; a Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. Asculum (279 BC)
It is commonly seen as one of the earliest and most important battles between the Roman and Parthian empires; one of the most crushing defeats in Roman history. Carrhae (53 BC)
a decisive battle of Caesar's Civil War. On 9 August 48 BC in central Greece, Caesar and his allies formed up opposite the army of the republic under the command of Pompey the Great. Caesar won. Pharsalus (48 BC)
Final battle in the Wars of the Second Triumvirate between the forces of Mark Antony and Octavian and the forces of Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus. The Second Triumvirate declared this civil war to avenge Julius Caesar's assassination in 44 BC. Philippi (42 BC)
An alliance of Germanic tribes ambushed and decisively destroyed three Roman legions and their auxiliaries, led by Publius Quinctilius Varus. One of Rome's worst defeats. Teutoburg Forest (AD 9)
The Parthian General Surena decisively defeated a numerically superior Roman invasion force under the command of Marcus Licinius Crassus. Carrhae (53 BC)
Created by: Mr_Morman