After the Dark Ages in ancient Greece, a new system of warfare evolved; weaponry, tactics, ideas and formations changed. Modified by Philip II and mainly by Alexander the Great after the Macedonians conquered Greece, this new age of warfare lasted until the rise of the Roman Empire, when new tactics and the legion formation became the general methods of battle. The new "breakthrough" in military affairs was due largely to a new type of formation of infantry men, or hoplites. This formation was called the phalanx. The hoplite was heavily armed; he was equipped with a round shield, a breastplate of metal and leather, a helmet, and metal shin protection called greaves. His two weapons were a double-bladed sword and an eight foot pike for thrusting. These men were much faster and more maneuverable then the old system of disorganized fighting, where heavily armed soldiers individually fought one-on-one with others (the leaders of opposing sides would search for the men with reputations to fight). The phalanx was held in solid ranks, and divided only by a center line and two flanking sections. The soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder in files about eight ranks deep. The men in the front line held their shield strapped to the left arm and the sword in their right hand, thus protecting the man on their left while being protected by the man on their right. There was little need for an officer corps; because the formation was not complex, the whole body moved as one unit to the sound of a flute. However, the phalanx did present weaknesses: because it was sometimes difficult to maneuver due to its "bulky" size, if penetrated by the enemy, it became little more than a hectic, disorganized mob. Also, men tended to drift to their right for the protection of the shield held by that man. The solution to this problem was to place the strongest and most adroit fighters on the right flank to keep the unit from drifting on a battlefield

The Ionian Revolt

The Ionian Revolt, and associated revolts in Aeolis, Doris, Cyprus and Caria, were military rebellions by several regions of Asia Minor against Persian rule, lasting from 499 BC to 493 BC. At the heart of the rebellion was the dissatisfaction of the Greek cities of Asia Minor with the tyrants appointed by Persia to rule them, along with the individual actions of two Milesian tyrants, Histiaeus and Aristagoras. The cities of Ionia had been conquered by Persia in c. 540 BC, and thereafter were ruled by native tyrants, nominated by the Persian satrap in Sardis. In 499 BC the then tyrant of Miletus, Aristagoras, launched a joint expedition with the Persian satrap Artaphernes to conquer Naxos, in an attempt to bolster his position. The mission was a debacle, and sensing his imminent removal as tyrant, Aristagoras chose to incite the whole of Ionia into rebellion against the Persian king Darius the Great.

In 498 BC, supported by troops from Athens and Eretria, the Ionians marched on, captured, and burnt Sardis. However, on their return journey to Ionia, they were followed by Persian troops, and decisively beaten at the Battle of Ephesus. This campaign was the only offensive action by the Ionians, who subsequently went on the defensive. The Persians responded in 497 BC with a three pronged attack aimed at recapturing the outlying areas of the rebellion, but the spread of the revolt to Caria meant that the largest army, under Daurises, relocated there. While initially campaigning successfully in Caria, this army was annihilated in an ambush at the Battle of Pedasus. This resulted in a stalemate for the rest of 496 and 495 BC.

By 494 BC the Persian army and navy had regrouped, and they made straight for the epicentre of the rebellion at Miletus. The Ionian fleet sought to defend Miletus by sea, but were decisively beaten at the Battle of Lade, after the defection of the Samians. Miletus was then besieged, captured, and its population was enslaved. This double defeat effectively ended the revolt, and the Carians surrendered to the Persians as a result. The Persians spent 493 BC reducing the cities along the west coast that still held out against them, before finally imposing a peace settlement on Ionia which was generally considered to be both just and fair. The Ionian Revolt constituted the first major conflict between Greece and the Persian Empire, and as such represents the first phase of the Greco-Persian Wars. Although Asia Minor had been brought back into the Persian fold, Darius vowed to punish Athens and Eretria for their support for the revolt. Moreover, seeing that the myriad city states of Greece posed a continued threat to the stability of his Empire, he decided to conquer the whole of Greece. In 492 BC, the first Persian invasion of Greece, the next phase of the Greco-Persian Wars, would begin as a direct consequence of the Ionian Revolt.