Xerxes had provided carts to march alongside the army, but these were not intended for long distance transport. Instead they were expected to carry out short term duties only. Within the Persian empire they would have carried supplies from one pre-prepared supply dump to the next. In Greece, where there were no such prearranged food supplies, the carts would have been intended to carry food from a port where the fleet had put in to the army camped a short distance away. In hostile territory they could have carried supplies looted from the local populace.
Some idea of how seriously bad road transport was in the ancient world can be gathered from events in the Roman province of Coele, now northern Syria, in ad362. A drought struck the area and famine resulted. The drought had not affected the entire region and large stocks of food were available in granaries at Tyre some 70km away. But the drought that had caused the famine had also dried off all fodder crops, effectively halting the ox carts. Unable to transport food to the people, the government ordered the people to walk to the food. Thousands died along the road, but there was nothing that could be done to help them.
This then was the problem facing Xerxes. His food was running out and he had no way of getting any more except to batter his way through the Pass of Thermopylae to the rich, fertile plains of Boeotia beyond.
The time of waiting was over. The time of killing was about to begin.
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