Saturday, February 06, 2010

Alexander's Loot .

Alexander's Loot .
Andre Willers
7 Feb 2010

An estimated US$ 463 Billion in high-value loot (gold and jewels) still lies hidden between 61.5 degrees East , 25 degree North and 61.25 degrees East , 29.35 degree North . Near Gwatar Bay .
See Appendix A for estimate .

Discussion :

Exuberance of Success:
After looting the accumulated wealth of the Middle East , every Greek troopie was a millionaire . Accumulating at least 5-10 camp followers (including wives , concubines and children ) .
Numerous auxillaries of dubious loyalty also attached .
Estimate about 500 000 people .
Of which about 50 000 were core Greek troops .

After the mutiny at Hydaspes , Alexander faced some hard strategic choices:
1. He could not stay . His core forces were too small and getting increasingly corrupted .
2. If he left with the whole train to Babylon , the economy of Babylon would collapse
3. What he needed was his Army purged and purified . With a disciplined Army he could always repair any problems by some killing and looting .
4. He therefore did two things :
4.1 March south to Pattala , where a fleet of more than100 ships were built under Nearchos . This ferried his personal share of treasure to Babylon .
4.2 Announced that the army would march back through the Gedrosian Desert .
Probably announced at Gwatar Bay .
5. Two orders of Alexander that would not be obeyed :
5.1 Abandon loot
5.2 Abandon children and wives .
6. So he did not try . An order his troops could not disobey was the route of the march . They were as aware as he was that they only existed on the momentum of previous conquests and the cohesion of the army . Forcing marching through the desert means that they would have to ditch the baggage train and hide most of the loot . He snookered them .
7. These were the most accomplished looters in history . They really , really knew where to hide loot where not even they could find it .
8. Unfortunately , about ¾ of them died on the march . So most of their loot was never found , even over 2 000 years .

Gwatar Bay should be named Lamentation Bay .
The camp followers (at least 400 000 of them) , wives , children etc were cast adrift with lesser parts of the loot .
Gold and jewelry , especially , were stashed .

Odysseus in Ithaca .
Alexander miscalculated the effect of the Desert Crossing on his Greek troops .
A triumphant house-cleansing by his re-invigorated and purged Greek warriors did not happen . (A-la-Odysseus in Ithaca)

A sullen and rebellious lot rocked up in Babylon , having lost all their loot and their wives and children . Facing larger numbers and richer locals .

It was a wonder Alexander lasted as long as he did .
His personal treasure was there , but without an army to guard it , it was simply another temptation to his generals .

Hence " It was a mosquito that did it, your honor."

Long Term effects :
One of the reasons for the extraordinary success of Egyptian and Middle-eastern civilizations were their great efficiency in recycling burial goods of gold , silver and gems . Grave robbers were , and are , integrated into the economy .
(Cf Scythian and Celtic , which did not have grave robbers and were at a severe economic disadvantage.)

The loss of such a large accumulated surplus represented by the Alexandrian Army's loot impoverished the Middle East for centuries . It played a large role in success of Roman arms .
See "Whatever happened to Nomads?" .
There was not enough portable currency to hire enough mercenary troops . (ie Nomads)

The ripple effects are still discernable .

Do you feel lucky ?
You know where to look .

It was never Alexander's intention to impoverish the local regions and render them vulnerable to nomad mercenaries .

The ghosts of his soldiers want these treasures to be found .


Andre .


Appendix A
Estimate of amount of Alexander's Army Treasure .
In 2010 US$
See "New tools" "Reserves"

Let S= average surplus per person in the Middle East per year circa 300-1300 BCE .
Let Tax= 1/3 * S be average tax per year.
Let a third be retained as reserve .
Reserve= 1/9 *S
Accumulate this over 50 million people over 1000 years .
Reserve = 50*10^6 *10^3 *1/9 * S
Reserve = 5/9 * 10^10 *S

Alexander looted a third of this .
Loot = 5/27 *10^10 * S
The troops got 1/10 of this . (The officers got the rest , but this got recycled.)
And they (the troops) retained 1/3 to finally bury . (They spent 2/3 on wine , women and song)
Loot buried= 5/81 * 10^9 *S
=0.617*10^8 *S

Let S = $1000 , a not unreasonable figure .
The ME at the time was well-watered and had 3-4 crops a year .

Then loot buried ~ 0.617 US$Trillion
Three quarters got lost .
Buried loot remaining = 0.617/4*3 Trillion
= US$ 463 Billion
Good enough for government work .

Still an ungodly amount of money in a civilization without credit facilities .

No wonder their civilization collapsed .


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