Was the Persian Army so Big Its Arrows Really Blocked out the Sun?
The army of the Persian Empire had enough archers that they were said to be able to “block out the sun.” You might remember the Spartan’s famous answer to that: great, we “can fight in the shade.”
Were those ancient chroniclers exaggerating? We do not know, but conservative estimates of the Persian army’s capabilities was that they had 50,000 men in their army. Yes, that’s a conservative estimate. Previous armies in the region are believed to have fought with mainly infantry, with archers being a supporting group; we know the Persians innovated by increasing the numbers of archers. Let’s crunch some numbers.
As a conservative estimate, let’s say there are about 20,000 archers in the Persian battle line. Each archer can fire about 5 arrows a minute. And their quivers held 120 arrows, but let’s assume they had to go hunting for dinner the last few nights, and give them 100 arrows. When you do the math, that means the Persian Army could fire 100,000 arrows a minute. And they could do that for as long as their arms held out, or until their arrows run out, so about 20 minutes.
The Persian army could fire 100,000 arrows a minute, for 20 minutes. As a conservative estimate. Now, I’ve never been on an ancient battle field, but that sounds like it could block out the sun.