Phalanx is a word of Greek origin, meaning group or community. As a military term, the word stands for ranks and files of heavy infantry in square formation. While some scholars believe that the phalanx was a Greek invention, certain historical sources suggest that it had already been employed by other nations prior to the Classical Greek Period. What is certain is that the Greeksmastered phalanx warfare.
The primary weapon used by hoplites, Greek heavy infantry soldiers, was a 2-3 meters (6.562-9.843 feet) long spear, called a doru, held in the right hand. In addition, they used a short sword as well. Each hoplite carried a shield in his left hand, protecting the side of his body and the soldier on his left. Hoplites also wore body armor and helmets.
The breadth and depth of the phalanx varied depending on the number of soldiers and terrain conditions; but phalanx formations were typically eight ranks deep. It was due to this military formation that the Greek army won numerous legendary battles.
King Philip II of Macedon was the first to introduce the phalanx in the Macedonian army. The Macedonian phalanx consisted of the former heavy infantry. Its basic unit was the syntagma, which comprised 16 ranks with 16 soldiers in each rank.
The 256 soldiers were armed with spears, called sarrisas, which were much longer than those used by the Greek hoplites: they were 4-6 meters (13.12-19.69 feet) long.
In the first rows, sarissas were held horizontally. From the sixth row backwards, the soldiers held their spears upright.