Battle of Daras, 530

Click here to view animation.

(Ensure you hit F5 or View Show)
Animation not displaying properly?

Belisarius versus Firuz: A Byzantine army under Belisarius chooses to fight a Sassanid army under Firuz outside the walls of a fortress rather than from within. Will Belisarius’ defensive position hold out against Firuz’ attacks? Also known as the Battle of Dara.

daras preview 1


The glory of this battle was overshadowed by Belisarius’ defeat at Callinicum in 531. While a loss at this battle would have hurt the Byzantines, the battle stands out for its tactical intrigue and little more.


This battle illustrates the successful transition from defensive to offensive maneuver. Napoleon stated “The whole art of war consists in a well-reasoned and extremely circumspect defensive, followed by a rapid and audacious attack.” While Belisarius achieved the former, his attack was hardly audacious and the Sassanid army was repelled and not destroyed.

daras preview 2


This is another battle I have animated from Goodenough’s Tactical Genius in Battle. The best account of the battle is from Haldon’s excellent The Byzantine Wars, which I strongly recommend. Details regarding this battle vary. Sources disagree on the exact shape of the Byzantine ditch and the relative timing of the two Sassanid cavalry attacks.

– Jonathan Webb

Works Consulted

Chandler, David. The Art of Warfare on Land. Norwich: Jarold & Sons Ltd, 1974.

Dupuy, Trevor N. The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From
3500 BC to the Present, Fourth Edition. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.

Goodenough, Simon. Tactical Genius in Battle. Oxford: Phodian Press, 1979.

Haldon, John. The Byzantine Wars: Battles and Campaigns of the Byzantine Era. Stroud: Tempus, 2001.

Procopius. The Persian War. Edited by T.E. Page and W.H.D. Rouse. London: William Heinemann, 1943.

United States Military Academy History Department. “Atlas for Ancient Warfare.” United States Military Academy. (accessed Aug. 11, 2009).



Byzantine soldiers:

Map of Eurasia:

Map of the world:

Sassanid soldiers:


If you enjoyed the Battle of Daras 530 battle animation, you may also enjoy these other battle animations:

Battle of Ad Decimum 533, another battle featuring Belisarius:

ad decimum preview 1

Battle of Strasbourg 357, another battle featuring a hidden ambush force on one flank:

strasbourg preview 1

Battle of Thymbra 546 BC, another battle in which the envelopment of both flanks maneuver was used from a defensive position:

thymbra preview 1Thank you for visiting The Art of Battle: Animated Battle Maps.

Readers Comments (5)

  1. All accounts i have red of this battle (including a new Belisarius book that came out in April 2009) state that Belisarius refused to pursue the fleeing Persian army because the Persians were notorious for being able to rally and re-strike. If Belisarius’ army was out in the field against a much more rapid Persian army, even one running away,it would have been a total defeat for Belisarius once the Persians rallied. So, I think its prudent that Beliarius chose not to pursue the Persians.

  2. Belisarius accomplished the most with very little resources – he may have lost a battle – but the persian army lost much more (ref to the battle lost in 531) –

  3. Christopher Lillington-Martin April 27, 2010 @ 8:47 pm

    You might find this article of mine of interest: I visited the battle site three times and concluded it was about 3 km south of the walls of Dara. Here is the reference and it can be found in most UK university libraries:
    Christopher Lillington-Martin, “Archaeological and Ancient Literary Evidence for a Battle near Dara Gap, Turkey, AD 530: Topography, Texts & Trenches”, British Archaeological Reports (BAR) –S1717, 2007 The Late Roman Army in the Near East from Diocletian to the Arab Conquest Proceedings of a colloquium held at Potenza, Acerenza and Matera, Italy (May 2005) edited by Ariel S. Lewin and Pietrina Pellegrini with the aid of Zbigniew T. Fiema and Sylvain Janniard. ISBN 978 1 4073 0161 7. (pages 299-311).

  4. This is an extremely poor explanation. It should not be taken as useable information as it borders on being entirely false.

  5. I want to add that Christopher Lillington-Martin’s work puts the battle of Daras on the correct battlefield. Anyone interested in the Battle of Daras would be well advised to not only consult Christopher’s work but the most thorough analysis of the Battle of Daras ever done. That analysis is called Belisarius Battle Analysis Series Part II, The Battle of Daras.

Comments are closed.