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ON THE MILITARY ARCHITECTURE OF TROY: Some remarks on the difficulty of conquering the city

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1111Restored Plan of Troy’s citadel adapted from W. Dorpfeld’s excavations. The successive archaeological and urban levels are noted. Note also the outer and inner walls of Troy VI.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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My initial intention was to give an outline of the military architecture of Troy but the detailed studies of W. Dorpfeld, M. Wood, H. Schliemann, R. Neumann, C.W. Blegen, J.L. Caskey, M.Rawson, M. Korfmann, D. Easton and others, most of which are free on the internet, does not leave any room to add something new to the subject beyond the usual data. Therefore, in this article I will deal with the essential result of that architecture, namely the difficulty of conquering the mighty fortress which Troy VI had been.
Which of the archaeological urban levels of the city discovered and excavated by H. Schliemann at the hill of modern Hissarlik was the city of Homer’s epic? This is one of the main problems concerning the Homeric Epic Cycle. It is considered certain that the Homeric Troy corresponds to one of the levels VI (about 1900-1250 BC) and VIIa (about 1250-1180 BC). Wilhelm Dörpfeld who in 1893-94 continued Schliemann’s excavations in Troy, indicated level VI as the Homeric city. Dörpfeld found that the last phase of that level (VIh) was hit by an earthquake and concluded that after the blow, the city was captured by enemies who according to his view they were the Homeric Achaeans. The German archaeologist found that the earthquake caused damage to the city but the destruction was the work of man, a view based on the discovery of extensive fire traces in the VIh destruction level and on archaeological evidence, mainly traces of military activity.
This theory of Dörpfeld and those who agree with him today (e.g. M. Wood and others) is the most believable in my opinion, that is why in this article I will base my analysis on the assumption that Homer’s Troy was the archaeological level VI (phase VIh). In a future article I will deal with the arguments of those who argue that Homer’s city was the level VI and the ones of those who argue that that city was level VII (less likely).

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A rare and detailed representation of the total city of Troy (urban area and citadel). Most of the modern representations use to deal just with the architectural and engineering status of the citadel. Most of the defensive features mentioned in the text are noted, but please observe notably the scalar urban distribution of the buildings of the lower city and the citadel, essentially being the fourth defensive line of Troy (Copyright: National Geographic Magazine. Art by William Cook. Source on Troy: Troy project).

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NASA TO ANNOUNCE MARS MYSTERY SOLVED

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Republication from www.nasa.gov

aaaaa Mars true-color globe showing Terra Meridiani.
Credits: NASA/Greg Shirah

(Nature Geoscience has Embargoed Details until 11 a.m. EDT Sept. 28)

NASA will detail a major science finding from the agency’s ongoing exploration of Mars during a news briefing at 11:30 a.m. EDT on Monday, Sept. 28 at the James Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The event will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

 

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2ος ΚΕΛΤΙΒΗΡΙΚΟΣ ΠΟΛΕΜΟΣ (154-133 π.Χ.): ΟΛΟΚΛΗΡΩΤΙΚΟΣ ΠΟΛΕΜΟΣ ΤΗΣ ΡΩΜΗΣ ΣΤΗΝ ΙΒΗΡΙΚΗ (Β΄ μέρος)

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Σύγχρονη αποκατάσταση των οχυρώσεων της Νουμαντίας στην Ισπανία (Wikipedia)
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ΣΥΝΕΧΕΙΑ ΑΠΟ ΤΟ Α΄ ΜΕΡΟΣ
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Ο Σκιπίων αντιλήφθηκε ότι η ρωμαϊκή πολεμική προσπάθεια έπρεπε να επικεντρωθεί στη Νουμαντία. Όταν είδε τα ισχυρά τείχη της, κατανόησε ότι η πόλη που είχε αποκρούσει τέσσερις ρωμαϊκούς στρατούς, δεν μπορούσε να κατακτηθεί με έφοδο και δυναμική πολιορκία. Για αυτόν τον λόγο την απέκλεισε από την υπόλοιπη Ισπανία, περικυκλώνοντας την με έναν πολιορκητικό οχυρωματικό δακτύλιο μήκους 9 Χμ. Η οχύρωση αποτελείτο από ξύλινο τείχος στο οποίο παρεμβάλλονταν πυργίσκοι με βαλλίστρες (ballistae) και καταπέλτες καθώς και έξι «ενσωματωμένα» στρατόπεδα για τους λεγεωνάριους. Συνολικά, 60-70.000 Ρωμαίοι θα αντιμετώπιζαν μόλις 3.500 Νουμαντίνους πολεμιστές οι οποίοι βρίσκονταν στην πόλη μαζί με 7.500 αμάχους, όπως υπολογίστηκε από τις ανασκαφές που διεξήχθησαν. Οι γειτονικοί Κελτίβηρες δεν βοήθησαν τη Νουμαντία από φθόνο για την ισχύ της. Για μια ακόμη φορά, η χαρακτηριστική κελτική διχόνοια υπήρξε το ισχυρότερο «όπλο» των Ρωμαίων.
Οι λίγοι Νουμαντίνοι προσπάθησαν μόνοι τους, με «εξόδους αυτοκτονίας», να διαρρήξουν το ρωμαϊκό τείχος και να διαφύγουν στην ενδοχώρα. Χρησιμοποίησαν φλεγόμενα ακόντια για να κάψουν τις πολιορκητικές οχυρώσεις, αλλά χωρίς επιτυχία. Σύντομα τα τρόφιμα εξαντλήθηκαν και οι πολιορκημένοι έφτασαν σε απόγνωση. Ένας γενναίος πολέμαρχος, ο Ρητογένης, κατάφερε να διαβεί τη νύκτα με μερικούς συντρόφους του το πολιορκητικό τείχος, σκοτώνοντας τους Ρωμαίους φρουρούς, και να φθάσει στους γειτονικούς Αρεβάκους συγγενείς της Νουμαντίας. Αλλά οι συγκεκριμένοι Αρεβάκοι αρνήθηκαν να βοηθήσουν τους πολιορκημένους, τρομοκρατημένοι από την παρουσία 60-70.000 Ρωμαίων στην περιοχή τους.

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2ος ΚΕΛΤΙΒΗΡΙΚΟΣ ΠΟΛΕΜΟΣ (154-133 π.Χ.): ΟΛΟΚΛΗΡΩΤΙΚΟΣ ΠΟΛΕΜΟΣ ΤΗΣ ΡΩΜΗΣ ΣΤΗΝ ΙΒΗΡΙΚΗ (A΄ μέρος)

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centurionΡωμαίος εκατόνταρχος οδηγεί τους άνδρες του μέσα από καταιγισμό βελών. Εξαιρετικός πίνακας του Ρουμάνου εικονογράφου Radu Oltean.
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Περί τον 4ο αιώνα π.Χ. η εθνολογική υπόσταση της αρχαίας Ιβηρικής είχε διαμορφωθεί. Κατά το πιθανότερο, τα εδάφη της μοιράζονταν τουλάχιστον πέντε εθνο-γλωσσικές ομάδες. Οι τρεις από αυτές αποτελούνταν από λαούς γηγενών του Μεσογειακού προ-ινδοευρωπαϊκού υποστρώματος: στην βόρεια περιοχή ζούσαν οι Ουάσκονες, πρόγονοι των σημερινών Βάσκων. Οι Ουάσκονες ανήκαν στην ίδια ομάδα με τους προ-κελτικούς Ακυιτανούς της Γαλατίας. Στο νότιο τμήμα της χερσονήσου ζούσαν λαοί της Ταρτήσσιας ομάδας, με κυριότερη φυλή αυτή των Τουρδητανών και βόρειο σύνορο τον ποταμό Άνα (σημερ. Γκουαδιάνα). Στην ανατολική μεσογειακή ακτής της Ισπανίας ζούσαν οι Ίβηρες. Παλαιότερα πιστευόταν ότι οι Βάσκοι και οι Ταρτήσσιοι αποτελούσαν κλάδους των Ιβήρων αλλά σήμερα έχει διαπιστωθεί ότι επρόκειτο για τρεις ανεξάρτητες εθνολογικές ομάδες. Η «παρεξήγηση» δημιουργήθηκε από τους Έλληνες και τους Ιταλούς θαλασσοπόρους οι οποίοι ήρθαν πρώτα σε επαφή με τους Ίβηρες. Λόγω αυτής της συνάντησης αποκάλεσαν ολόκληρη την χερσόνησο «Ιβηρική» ενώ στην πραγματικότητα οι Ίβηρες αποτελούσαν περιορισμένο τμήμα του πληθυσμού της. Στην αναφερόμενη εποχή η (Παλαιο-)Ταρτήσσια ομάδα είχε ήδη διαχωρισθεί σε δύο νέες ομάδες: την περιορισμένη Νεο-Ταρτήσσια και τη μεγαλύτερη Τουρδητανική.
Οι άλλες δύο εθνο-γλωσσικές ομάδες της χερσονήσου ήταν ινδοευρωπαϊκές: οι Λυσιτανοί οι οποίοι ήταν ένας iνδοευρωπαϊκός γλωσσικά πληθυσμός αλλά πιθανώς προ-κελτικός, και οι Κελτίβηρες οι οποίοι ήταν γλωσσικά Κέλτες. Μερικοί ερευνητές θεωρούν ότι οι Λυσιτανοί μιλούσαν πρωτο-κελτικές διαλέκτους, παλαιότερες των κελτιβηρικών γλωσσών (καθαυτό κελτικές) η οποία είναι και η δική μου άποψη, αλλά υπάρχουν αρκετές αντιρρήσεις σε αυτήν.

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New species of hominin discovered

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An international team of scientists announced the discovery Thursday of a new species of hominin, a small creature with a tiny brain that opens the door to a new way of thinking about our ancient ancestors.

The discovery of 15 individuals, consisting of 1,550 bones, represents the largest fossil hominin find on the African continent.

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Ice-age Europeans roamed in small bands of fewer than 30, on brink of extinction

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REPUBLICATION from HORIZON RESEARCH MAGAZINE

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The last ice age is associated with a major demographic bottleneck in Europe. Image: Shutterstock/ Esteban De Armas
The last ice age is associated with a major demographic bottleneck in Europe. Image: Shutterstock/ Esteban De Armas

New genomic data suggests that when Europeans emerged from the last ice age they were close to becoming extinct.

In some cases, small bands of potentially as few as 20 to 30 people could have been moving over very large areas, over the whole of Europe as a single territory, according to Professor Ron Pinhasi, principal investigator on the EU-funded ADNABIOARC project.

This demographic model is based on new evidence that suggests populations were much smaller than is generally thought to be a stable size for healthy reproduction, usually around 500 people. Such small groupings may have led to reduced fitness and even extinctions.

‘As an archaeologist and anthropologist, I was quite shocked to see how limited, how small the population numbers were. You know, shockingly small,’ said Prof. Pinhasi, based at University College Dublin, Ireland.

‘I think that what happened, it’s on a catastrophic level of demography for a long time in human evolution,’ he said.

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MIDDLE BYZANTINE (EAST ROMAN) GENERIC TACTICS AND STRATEGY (Part II)

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Byzantine St-LucasByzantine fresco depicting Joshua (from the Hosios Loukas monastery, 12th century AD) bearing a lamellar ‘clibanion’  (‘klibanion’) cuirass, and armed with a “kontarion” (spear) and a “spathion” (sword). The figure is sometimes considered as a model of the appearance and equipment of the Byzantine “skoutatoi” heavy infantrymen.
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CONTINUED from PART I
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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In the order of battle in front of the front line, units of archers and some javeliners and slingers (and a few light horse-archers) were lined up. Those units were usually starting the imperial attack with their missiles against the enemy army in order to cause confusion on its ranks, in order for the attack of the armored cavalry of the first line to follow. The lightly armed Byzantines were usually engaged in skirmishes with their enemy counterparts before the main combat, but when threatened by heavy enemy units conducting a frontal assault on them, they were fleeing behind the line of their fellow horsemen.
Over the centuries, the native Byzantine archers and horse-archers were gradually replaced by Altaic and Alanic mercenary horse-archers (the so-called “Prokoursatores“, see below) who additionally used their favorite nomad tactics of “feigned retreat” at the start of the battle. According to those tactics, they were pretending to have been defeated in the initial skirmishes with the enemy forces so that they could lure them in their pursuit. The ultimate goal of this nomadic vanguard was to disband the ranks of the advancing enemies because of the speed of the ‘chase’, so that they would be unorganized enough when they would face the attack of the Byzantine frontline armored cavalry. In this case, the imperial horse-archers were galloping through the interstices of the front line to the safety of the rear, while the marching enemy who had considerably lost his compact order, confronted the “catapultic” attack of the Bucellarii, Kavallarii or Cataphract cavalry.

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MIDDLE BYZANTINE (EAST ROMAN) GENERIC TACTICS AND STRATEGY (Part I)

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Skylitzes
A battle between Byzantine and Arab cavalry, from the Madrid Skylitzes manuscript (late 13th century, but representative enough of the late phase of the Middle Period). A bloody fighting is taking place with decapitations and troopers trampled by the horses. Byzantines and Muslims alike wear mostly scale armor
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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The Middle Byzantine Age (7th-12th c. AD) was decisive for the history of the Byzantine Empire. The loss of the Middle Eastern provinces and Egypt by the invading Arabs marks its beginnings, but the “hard core” of the Empire managed to halt the forces of the invaders at the eastern border of Asia Minor, and additionally the forces of the numerous Avaro-Slavic and Proto-Bulgarian (and other Later Hunnic nomad) raiders at the Balkan borders. The experienced Byzantine Army being after all the descedant of the Roman Imperial Army, went on dealing effectively with the pressure by the same enemies and also by the Lombards (Longobards) and the Franks in Italy and some new nomadic peoples on the borders of the Balkan peninsula (Byzantine Sicily and Northwest Africa (modern Maghreb) were finally conquered by the Arabs). Its strengthening during the reign of the emperor Nikephoros Phokas (963-969) led to a strong imperial counterattack on all fronts ending in major territorial recoveries of the “Byzantine Epic Era” (this term has been used by the modern historical research, to denote the period around 963-1025 AD).

However, the fatigue of the army because of the war effort, and especially its neglect due to a series of weak emperors and the civil strife during the fifty years which followed the brilliant reign of Basil II (976-1025) to the Battle of Manzikert (AD 1071) and after that, led to its rapid weakening. Finally, new dangerous enemies, the Seljuq Turks in Asia Minor and the Normans in Italy and the Balkan Peninsula, gave decisive blows to the Empire. The renowned Byzantine army never managed to recover from the disaster of Manzikert, despite the best efforts of some emperors and some temporary military successes. The parallel decline of the Thematic administrative and military organization of the state which declined after the battle of Manzikert and was eventually abolished, had an additional negative role in the weakening of the army. The imperial defense was further weakened, leading to the capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204.

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