Scipio`s Army of Africa:
How big was Scipio`s army at the battle of Zama?
It is generally accepted that the Second Punic War was brought to a grand and dramatic conclusion at the battle of Zama in the autumn of 202 BC when Publius Cornelius Scipio defeated Hannibal Barca.
Scipio`s crushing victory was the decisive, knockout blow of the war; confirming Rome’s hegemony over the western Mediterranean and as a consequence, the once great power of Carthage was finally reduced to an impotent client state of Rome.
The battle is seen as one of history’s greatest pivotal moments and most modern historians understand it to be a large pitched battle involving up to 75,000 infantry, 11,000 cavalry and 80 elephants. Without much question, this is widely believed to be the true scale of the battle. But there may be some good reasons to doubt that these numbers are correct and so the purpose of this paper is to estimate the effective strength of Scipio`s field army at the battle of Zama.
In this estimation allowances will be made for the missions that Scipio`s army would have been obliged to carry out in exerting pressure upon the city of Carthage and also Scipio`s need to support his Numidian ally, Massinissa to maintain the security of his kingdom against the threat of Carthage’s Numidian allies commanded by Prince Vermina.