Talk:Battle of Zama

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I'm absolutely disagree with you[edit]

I've personally done the animation using Flash and it is absolutely not the Rome Total war game ( the only thing I got from the game is the picture at the beginning, that coul be easily changed with another surely more appropriated ).

The schemating animation and the description that follows it are absolutely not inaccurate because they follolw what was written by Tito Livio in "Ab Urbe Condita" book XXX

... it could not be liked ... but what Intranetusa wrote is unacceptable

bye, by an italian from Rome.

(Piermin (talk) 14:01, 21 January 2008 (UTC))


Deleted Zama animation in external inks[edit]

Who posted that absurd link? It's a link to the notoriously un-historical Rome Total War game. The animation shows the Carthaginians as barbarians, and the Romans having Praetorian Guards (or even worse, fictional urban cohorts represented as praetroians) The Punic Wars were in the 3rd century BCE, the Praetorians weren't even created until the early 1st century CE. Even more so, they were even wearing fictional armors. To the person who posted it, please do NOT link games with any inaccurate historical article on wikipedia. Intranetusa (talk) 18:33, 19 January 2008 (UTC)



Roman Infantry[edit]

The Roman infantry was about to succumb to the Carthaginians???

Where did you read that?

both armies were deployed in 3 lines - the Carthaginians with elephants, Ligurians, Celts, Baleric islanders, and Moorish mercenaries in front, then native Libyans, Carthaginians. Livy also says there weer Macedonians in this line, but this is rubbish and nothing more than post hoc jsutification for the forthcoming Macedonian war, the Carthaginian 3rd line was veterans of Hannibal's army from Italy.

The Romans formed up in their usual 4 lines of Velites, Hastati, Princepes and Triarii.

the first 2 Carthaginian lines weer routed by the roman Hastati, the velites having fought off the elephants. Scipio then bought up his Princepes and Triarii to reinforce his battered but victorious Hastati.

In hte mean time the roman cavalry had ben successful on both flanks - the 3-4000 Roman and Italian horse on hte left, and the 6000 Numidian horse under Massinisa on the right, and both wings had pursued their beaten foe from the field.

Back to the infantry - Hannibal reformed the survivors of his frist 2 lines on his veterans in the 3rd line, and, inspired by hte great man himself, a hard fight lasted most of the day. the Romans may have been getting the worse of it, but they were not anywhere near "succumbing", when BOTH the Numidian and Roman/Italian horse arrived in the rear of the Carthaginian infantry, who quickly broke and ran.

Carthaginian casualties weer 20,000 dead and 15-20,000 captured from an army total of about 45,000, while the Romans suffered 1500 dead and 4000 wounded.

i'm alright with most of what you said but that last but there about 1500 killed 4000 wounded is total propaganda by polybius and you know it. I know that we can't pretend to come up with the likely casualties on our own b/c there are so many variables to consider but we shouldn't claim that 1500 dead 4000 wounded is anywhere near precise just b/c it is the only numbers that we are given. just like the casualties of cannae were inflated my the cunctator that he could get his strategy ratified and polybius subsequently published it, These casualty numbers are just more speculation and pandering to P.Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major128.62.136.134 (talk)Abe Froman 590 —Preceding comment was added at 19:00, 9 July 2008 (UTC)
Of course, there is no way to check the accuracy of Polybius statements, but the numbers are not unlikely at all. In the ancient warfare, the army that was able to retain the cohesion of it's lines (as Romans dis at Zama) usually sufferd only light losses, the heavy casulaties were inflicted after the lines have broke, to already desorganized forces.M.Campos (talk) 16:00, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

The Map[edit]

Zama was inland, the map puts it on the coast.Dejvid 22:21, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Cavalry numbers[edit]

text says: ... the Carthaginians ... were outnumbered 6,000 to 3,000 in cavalry

box at the top says: Strength: Carthage 6,000 cavalry ./. Roman Republic Allies 2,700 Roman cavalry Strcmp 02:51, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

Final certainly, decisive? I don´t think so[edit]

I (and most of the scolars) believe that the decisive battle in the Second Punic War was the Battle of the Metaurus where Hasdrubal was defeated. The Battle of Zama is certainly the final battle, but the war at this point was allready decided. Flamarande 20:49, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

I'm going to have to refute this claim that "most scholars believe"...that's a terrible logical falalcy there. While the Battle of the Metaurus may have been decisive, Zama absolutely indicated the end of the Carthaginian ability to defend their homeland, it was still a toss up, and had Hannibal defeated Scipio, Carthage could have continued their war against Rome. Ezedriel

Hannibal's Tactics[edit]

I believe that Hannibal's tactics in the engagement at Zama were the testament to his genius and valor. Far from being outgeneraled it can be said that he almost won the battle; in Polybius' account of the battle it is said that the carthaginian cavalry routed at the first sign that the roman cavalry was on the attack. While this can be seen as outright fear it can also be said that he intentionally ordered the carthaginian cavalry to retreat and draw away the superior Roman cavalry from the engagement, the retreat of the cavalry was clearly used to draw away the Roman superior force while Hannibal used his superior infantry force to destroy the Roman legion. It can be said however that Scipio masterfully handled the charge of the War Elephants, not losing any significant amount of men. Hannibal's tactics appear to be the best and most efficient way of neutralizing the roman advantage, by simply drawing it away from the field of battle, however his plan backfired when the mercenary first line turned on the second line of the carthaginians. This happened because in Hannibal's attempt to keep the first and second lines seperate and distinct the mercenary line thought that they were being leant no support, this causwed them to fall upon their own allies in anger. The romans took this oppurtunity to exploit the confusion in the Carthaginain lines and charged forward, sending the first two lines to retreat after some protracted fighting. Hannibal had his veterans draw up their spears to prevent the first two lines from mixing with his third and forced them to move to the flanks, this formed an extended Carthaginian line. For awhile there was a lull in the fighting at Zama as the Romans themselves regrouped setting their Hastati on the center lines and then sending the triarii and principes to ht e flanks in an attempt to prevent a flanking manuever by Hannibal's longer line. Then the battle commenced as the two armies collided in a fury of battle, as the battle raged on, the Carthaginian veterans ( who were no ragtag group of soldiers, but rather possibly one of the best soldiers in the world) then began to actually gain control of the battle in favour of Carthage. But then, out of far plain returned the roman cavalry, victorious against the Carthaginian cavalry, and fell upon the Carthaginian rear, the protracted struggle then turned into a massacre as the Carthaginian lines fought valiantly but vainly as they were incircled and trapped. Only a small group of survivors left. Hannibal then told his men with great honesty " The war is over, and we can only hope for a shameless peace". I would like to add that Polybius' account is most probably the most accurate, this is evidenced because Livy and Appian state that the Carthaginain army had a huge advantage of infantry, with Livy stating 23,000 roman infantry to 50,000 carthaginian infantry. This is certiantly not true for such a numerical advantage would have led Hannibal to overwhelm the legion quickly no matter how well led or trained. Thus, we should rather hold Polybius' account of around 34,000 roman infanrty to 40,000 Carthaginian infantry more accurate. I wanted to say this about the credibilty of Polybius' account because some may question this. We must also remember the amount of bias that LIvy, for example shows in his books on the history of Rome, although an excellent historian, Livy managed to always insert his personal thoughts about what he wished happened in certain events, always portraying the Romans as righteous and patriotic. This is directed at those who believe that the Carthaginain general was outgeneraled by a superior commander and the ones that say that the Carthaginians were not at the brink of victory. I would like to know where you got that from, and in what way can you discredit the accounts that they were in fact winning against the romans until the cavalry arrived, this was the only real reason why the romans won, it was because of superior cavalry.

I'm sorry, but if he had come up with the "best way to counter the Romans", he would have won the battle. This was a battle of two titans of warfare - and Hannibal proved to be the lesser of two generals.
I would be willing to debate the claim that Hannibal was the lesser general, was Pyrrhus a lesser general than the Romans? Victory may seem decisive but Scipio's inability to control Massinisa's horseman would suggest that Scipio's control over his allies in tenuous at best. And while I don't have the evidence on hand I believe those versed in Numidian history would agree with me when I say that Massinisa is known perpetually for leaving the field of battle and only returning when he believes that he will win. Now on topic, I believe that we can't add anything about Hannibal's tactics because much of what is said is merely conjecture. Can we pretend to understand the motivations of the Spainards of Gauls comprising the front ranks? I could just as easily make the claim that Hannibal planned on his first two lines folding before the legions and retreating to the flanks that he could give the Roman's the impression of victory and draw them into a fight with an extended rear line where he knew his italian verterans could claim victory in the center, thus breaking the legion and making it vulnerable to envelopment on both sides.
just because this claim is logical and perhaps even tactically sound doesn't mean it was right. Hannibal most likely DIDN'T plan on his lines folding like they did, just as Scipio didn't plan on his cavalry disappearing like they did either. Neither of these men deserve the benefit of the doubt, our job is merely to report what is most logical, that being that the battle setting a precedent for Massinisa, showed failures of command on both sides (let's not forget that nearly all of Hannibal AND Scipio's victories were very nearly disasters) and on over-reliance on unreliable forces, the Romans just happened to have slightly more reliable forces. Battles; especially Zama, are 90% luck. Luck wasn't on the side of Hannibal. Again though I would be willing to definitely argue that Hannibal's army at Cannae could have routed Scipio's force at Zama even with the discrepancy in numbers. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 128.62.146.177 (talk) 02:13, 9 July 2008 (UTC)
While that will forever remain mere conjecture, let us not forget that Hannibal won battle after battle in Italy for 16 years and failed to gain anything from it, while only 8 years after Scipio arrived on the Iberian Peninsula, the war was over. ´Scipio was the superior grand strategist (the road to Carthage goes through Iberia), strategist (purposefully forcing Hannibal to the open fields at Zama, where he could make use of his superior calvary), and tactician, as the clash of these titans at Zama displayed. Farkeld (talk) 15:52, 13 December 2008 (UTC)
And from his continual victories he caused such a panic that the Romans performed human sacrifices in a brilliant display of hypocrisy and fear. Hannibal's inability to make particular strategic gains in Italy during his campaigns, as I assume you are referring to the continuing loyalty of the Italian Allies to Rome despite the continual thrashing the legions recieved time and again, this holds no bearing on the outcome of a battle such as Zama. Scipio was a brilliant general no doubt, and his implementation of subterfuge and sabotage to rout the camp of Syphax and his skills at deceiving his own men into believing his divine nature as evidenced at Cartago Nova are truly a testament to a man that is willing to do whatever he must to win, this is the reason why i don't bring into question to reports of casualties for this battle as Scipio displays repeatedly his ruthlessness in victory. For you to make claims that he was the best strategist (which you said twice for some reason that I can only guess at, perhaps because you wanted to list three traits but could only think of one and a synonym for it) and tactician (what is the difference between this and a strategist?) based on such limited and to borrow a term, conjectural evidence, compromises your case. Scipio deafeated his foes using trickery and cunning, Hannibal conquered using cunning and trickery. Even a lion may be brought down by a dozen ratty dogs and Scipio is simply was simply the right mutt for the job. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 128.83.206.89 (talk) 21:25, 14 October 2010 (UTC)

Importance[edit]

Now that the descriptions have been reworded... I've bumped this down to "High", as I don't believe it's well-known to anyone not familiar with the military history of the period. Feel free to change it back if you known something I don't, though ;-) Kirill Lokshin 02:38, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

Inconsistentcy[edit]

"So rather than arranging the maniples in the traditional checker pattern manipular formation, Scipio instead put the velites, principes, and triarii in succeeding lines of 500 man groups. Scipio realized that intentionally opening gaps in his troops meant that the elephants would continue between them, without harming any of his soldiers, he did this, and the elephants passed through his troops harmlessly and were picked off on the other side"

The Wiki article on Scipio gives an entirely different account, stating that the Roman arrangement was indeed "chequer" and that the Romans used elephant "traps" and blaring trumpets to drive back the elephants, which (the other article says) nevertheless greatly disturbed the Roman infantry.

One cannot have it both ways. Are we documenting history or telling tales? If there is doubt, each article ought say so. Citations would help.

In addition, this article describes Zama as the "reversal of typical" Punic battles, in which Romans had "fewer infantry". However, the data in this article shows that the Romans at Zama did indeed have fewer infantry than the Carthaginians.

Answering based on "Scipio" By Lidell Hart - both are truth: Romans used noise to scare the elephants and suceeded to drive part of them back. They simply allowed the reminder of them to pass trough the lanes between the troops, which were inedeed arranged in 3 successive lines. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mcampos69 (talkcontribs) 11:49, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

RE: Importance[edit]

I think that importance doesn't have anything to do with fame. Imagine if the Carthaginians would have won, it could eventually lead to an overall victory of the Pheoni peoples, who were Semetic in origin (not Jewish, necessarily). Couldn't this mean the difference between modern day Jewish or Christian prevalence? If anyone wishes to counter me, I just want to know more so any info on the contrary would be nice. —Preceding unsigned comment added by DIVI FILI (talkcontribs) 02:46, August 28, 2007 (UTC)

while is suppose that this point is at its core logical I believe that making the claim that a Punic victory may have led to Jewish religious dominance in the Mediterranean is a strained claim. The Carthaginians were worshipers of Ba'al as I'm sure you are aware and as a state concerned with maintaining profitability they would likely be concerned about maintaining the status quo as the Romans did. What this means is that the pantheon of other cultures are often adapted and assimilated into the state religion, i.e. magna mater, the bacchanalian rights, greek gods et al. Historically speaking monotheistic require a very aggressive doctrine of conversion 'missionary' as it can laughably be called. Judaism does not posses this trait, THAT is what can be attributed to the failure of the religion to spread too far beyond fairly predictable borders both pre- and post-diasphora (sp?). Islam and Christianity both prospered in their respective regions because of many factors, trade being one of them, the argument that Carthaginian trade would have expedited the spread of Semitic religions is a plain and likely result of Punic dominance in the Mediterranean. Though it would seem more likely that Ba'al worship would be more prone to spread and Judaism would flounder as would all monotheistic religions. Let's not forget that if it wasn't for the superstition of Constantine Christianity may very well be some perversion of Jewish doctrine. Due to the fact that the Carthaginians had a hegemony government and stemming form the fact that there is no obvious reason for a large asembly to decide to change the group religion it would seem unlikely at best that the same course of action that Constantine undertook could EVER occur in Carthage. I guess the answer is theoretically yes, realistically? no. I'd enjoy to debate this more if you have counter-points, i'm writing this while i'm in a lecture so i'm not sure how coherent all of this is, it's hard to discuss gene pool mutations and Semitic dissemination simultaneously.128.62.136.134 (talk) 18:45, 9 July 2008 (UTC)Abe Froman 590

Notes[edit]

I would like to make some points on the deficiencies of this article at this stage of its development (Oct 2007), it is only my opinion, but I call on every enthusiast: if you agree at least with some of these points, whether completely or just partially, let's make an effort to improve the text!

1. The style should be enhanced

2. The introduction should be expanded

3. The first section ("Prelude") intends to give a background about preceding events, but does not do it comprehensively, for instance, it fails to mention when did Scipio land in Carthaginian Africa. It mentions Scipio's successes in Spain (more appropriate - in Iberia), but does not elaborate and leaves one to wonder.

4. "Prelude" also lacks any information about the campaign before the battle of Zama. There is a brilliant passage on this topic in Hans Delbrueck's "Geschichte der Kriegskunst" that underlines the importance of the preceding manoeuvres of the two armies for the outcome of the battle

5. There are also some statements that are not entirely or not at all correct, for example: it is stated that Masinissa has replaced Syphax as the chieftain of the Numidians. This is not quite true, because even after Syphax's downfall there were some independent Numidians who resented Masinissa and supported Carthage (Vermina, Tychaeus, the latter even fought at Zama), the figures, that must represent the opposing forces, are very disputable. Hannibal's army was much smaller than 54,000, according to historians such as Pedro Barceló, Brian Caven, and again Hans Delbrueck.

6. Some titles are listed, but they do not compensate for the total lack of references linked to the text.

Regards, Dobrin 20:13, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Third line reinforced by third line[edit]

I think this is a mistake Roman infantry confronted the Carthaginian third line, reinforced by the retreating second and third lines. How could the third line reinforce itself? Maybe it should read reinforced by the retreating first and second lines. Jniech (talk) 09:56, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

My source says that the third lines were not reinforced at all. My source is Polybius, Book 15 of his histories, 13:9-10. I am going to change this if there are no objections.

"9 Hannibal did not allow the survivors in their flight to mix with his own men but, ordering the foremost ranks to level their spears against them, prevented them from being received into his force. 10 They were therefore obliged to retreat towards the wings and the open ground beyond" Farkeld (talk) 16:27, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

Warning: Repeated unsourced POV, or subtle vandalism[edit]

Someone, often using the IP of 87.198.192.181, is making repeated small but significant changes to this article about the flow of the battle. Some of the changes consist of mostly reversing all references to Roman and Carthaginian, thus reversing the flow of the battle.

At best, these are unsourced changes that don't jive with any reference I have. I'm worried that they may be attempts to vandalize the article in ways that are hard to detect.

I've reverted all the ones I found, but they may be more going back for months.

Please keep an eye out for more of this.

--A D Monroe III (talk) 17:32, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

Just got him again. Farkeld (talk) 05:47, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Prelude needs fine tunning[edit]

"(Hannibal) humiliated the Romans at Ticinus" - i didnt think that battle was a victory for either. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Idiszero (talkcontribs) 02:41, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

phases of the battle[edit]

I created an animated .gif of the battle a long time ago, but it apparently got removed. Maybe it wasn't thought that it was placed well or something like that, but I'm posting it on here in case someone wants to put it to good use: [1] JW (talk) 08:46, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

the role of elephants removed[edit]

The elephants played a major role in this battle because they caused the Carthaginian and Numidian cavalry to be become disarrayed. Here are some lines from the book "The fall of Carthage" written by Adrian Goldsworthy.

" On the left a number of the animals panicked and stampeded back trough the ranks of their own cavalry. Masinissa spotted the opportunity and led his men forward in an immediate attack on Hannibal's Numidian allies, routing them almost immediately."

and " Some on the right swerved towards the Roman cavalry, but changed direction again when they were greeted with a volley of javelins. Now completely out of control, they burst back through the Carthaginian cavalry. Laelius then copied Masinissa's example and charged forward against the disordered enemy horse, putting them to flight.

Adrian Goldsworth, The Fall of Carthage, The Punic Wars 265-146 BC, Phoenix, 2006, page 304.

So, I undo the removal made by Richard Keatinge.

Wereldburger758 (talk) 13:48, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Hannibal's near victory?[edit]

The text says:" In fact, at one point during the battle, it seemed that Hannibal was on the verge of victory. However, Scipio was able to rally his men." It isn't mentioned in the book "The Fall of Carthage" by Adrian Goldsworthy. Can someone give a reference for this? Wereldburger758 (talk) 14:13, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

According to Polybius, part of the roman line came under risk of loosing cohesion during the confrontation with the Cartaghinian 3rd line. But it is exageration to say Hannibal was on the verge of the victory, that statement should be revised.M.Campos (talk) 12:33, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

Several Errors and Omissions[edit]

I found the following errors and omissions in the text as it is and intend, if no one opposes, to fix them:

1) Stating that Masinissa replaced Syphax as the leader of Numidians is at least inaccurate. Syphax and Masinissa were leaders of different factions of Numidians. Syphax was captured in the Battle of the Great Plains, but his faction continued to exist under his son, and was routed only after Zama.

2)Roman Senate authorized Scipio to invade Africa but allowed him to take only two legions (5th and 6th) , which were stationed in Sicily. The extreme insufficiency of troops was the very reason for Scipio’s initial cautiousness.

3)The statement that the unreliable Italian allies were placed in the 3rd line is not only false but also incoherent with the reminder of the article, which describes correctly the last line as being composed by Hannibal’s best troops: veterans brought from Italian campaigns, not Italians.

4)The elephant charge happened before the Carthaginian cavalry route, and partially in consequence of it. The article describes the cavalry action first.

5)The statement that Hannibal faced “the best of Roman Army" is highly disputable. The two legions Scipio brought were considered by the senate as being 2nd rate. and transferred to Sicily as punishment for the humiliation they suffered at Cannae. However, Scipio was able to use the perspective of cleaning thair name to elate them.

My observations are backed on Polybius and Liddell Hart. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mcampos69 (talkcontribs) 16:14, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

  • Your remarks are completely correct. The whole article needs to be reviewed and at some places rewritten. I must add one thing to the points you have given: The battle of the Great Plains is not mentioned once in this article, that is strange since it was the reason for Hannibal and his veterans to return to Carthage. Wereldburger758 (talk) 13:21, 17 October 2009 (UTC)

The new article[edit]

Hi, i have composed a new article for this battle, it mainly deals with the "battle stuff" of the article it includes battle maps and details of the deployment and maneuvors of the armies, the artilce includes battle maps, which i have made using inkscape. I had tried my best to made them as acurate as i could, yet if there are some issues then feel free to discuss them. What inspired me to do a detailed research on the strategies and tactics of this battle was scipio's victory against hannibal, it isnt a child's play to defeat a commander who was invincible from past 20 years and it require guts to dream so ... scipio not only dreamed it but also accomplished it. This was the collision of the titans. Actually the battles of the punic wars in which rome was victorious are treated here on wikipedia like orphans perhaps the fan club of hannibal is too strong that they not only picturize him as "greatest" but also try to minimize the humiliation of his defeat by sorry excuses. I urge all to be neutral here, being a fan of military tactics and strategies i really admire both of the generals, the sections of the article that i think must be expanded are that of prelude and aftermaths. please help improving those sections.

regards. الله أكبرMohammad Adil 17:28, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

  • I don't think there is a fan club for Hannibal on Wikipedia. It is just that not many people know something about him, about the Romans and other things related to the Second Punic War. A great rewrite though. I corrected the errors. I will check this article for its content another time. Wereldburger758 (talk) 13:28, 30 October 2009 (UTC)


  • thanks, my next target in punic wars is battle of metaurus and then ilipa. battle maps for metaurus are almost complete and i will soon add them to article and also make a battle section more "battle like" i mean it badly need details for respective maneuvers. also check them for style and grammar etc after i am done there ...


regards الله أكبرMohammad Adil 19:37, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

Chalenged Assertion: Syphax and Masinissa[edit]

I am chalinging the assertion Scipio felt strong to act after Masinissa replaced Syphax. Masinissa was the leader of Massylii (eastern Numidia). Syphax was leader of Masaesyli (western Numidia). First faction fought at Zama with Scipio and the later with Hannibal. Masinissa only assumed the leadership of all Numidians after the Carthaginian final defeat and the death of Syphax. I am removing the wrong information. Sources: Liddell Hart and Polybius.M.Campos (talk) 11:43, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Africanus? not till after[edit]

Scipio wasn't called Africanus till after returning to Rome after this Battle. Shouldn't this story hold back on the name till the end, as that is what his contemporaries would have called him? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.201.168.196 (talk) 19:42, 12 April 2014 (UTC)

That is an astute observation and you should make the change(s). Thanks GenQuest "Talk to Me" 13:02, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
What changes? Scipio's full name is used in the lead, but he's referred to as just "Scipio" further down. "Scipio Africanus" is the title of his article and "Africanus" helps differentiate him from others of his family. Dhtwiki (talk) 22:25, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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