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China’s Terracotta Army and the Greek involvement (part II)

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The Terracotta Army of China’s first emperor (credit: Wikimedia commons).

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By Periklis Deligiannis

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CONTINUED FROM  PART I

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The Achaemenid Persian kings were the first to settle Greek runaways, prisoners of war and mercenaries in Ferghana (W.W. Tarn and others). In 329 BCE, Alexander founded in the same valley his fortress-colony Alexandria the Furthest settling there some of his veterans and other soldiers. In the years to come, there were additional Hellenic settlements in the valley and its surrounding areas (in modern Tajikistan and Eastern Uzbekistan). In 238 BCE, the Greek provincial ruler of Bactria, Sogdiane and Ferghana declared his independence from the Seleucid dynasty. The Greeks of Bactria and Ferghana started to extend their territory to all directions. Their expansion to India resulted in the founding of the Indo-Greek kingdom – independent from the Greco-Bactrian one – which reached the peak of its power under the warrior-king Menandros.

However the ancient geographer Strabo informs us that the Bactro-Greeks marched even beyond Alexandria the Furthest, that is in the Tarim Basin and “extended their kingdom as far as the Seres and the Phryni” (Strabo 11.XI.I). The Greeks were calling “Seres and Phryni” the Chinese and the Proto-Turks or the Tibetans.  There is some evidence that the Bactro-Greeks may have sent expeditions as far as Kashgar in the Tarim Basin in the end of the 3rd century BCE, that is around the reign of the First Emperor in China (221-210 BCE). In any case, the Hellenistic art was diffused in the Tarim Basin in this era and also during the 2nd century BCE. The aforementioned Hellenistic archaeological findings in the Urumqi Museum came from this diffusion. (As I have watched in a TV reportage on the issue, there are also strong indications for the settlement of some Greek craftsmen and artists in a city of the Tarim Basin and some of them may had moved to the east, to China proper).

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China’s Terracotta Army and the Greek involvement (part I)

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urumchi-china

A warrior of Hellenistic style along with a depiction of a centaur, woollen wall hanging, Sampul tapestry, 3rd or 2nd century BCE, Sampul, Urumqi Xinjiang Museum. It is one of the most known items of Greek style in Tarim Basin in the era that the Terracota army was manufactured (credit: Wikimedia commons).

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By Periklis Deligiannis

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The main recent event concerning Archaeology and Ancient History is the estimation in a documentary jointly made by the BBC and National Geographic, of a group of archaeologists who continue the excavations at Emperor Ch’in Shi Huang’s Mausoleum with Dr. Li Xiuzhen being the Senior Archeologist, that there was a Hellenic involvement in the construction of the renowned “Terracotta Army” of the Emperor. “We now have evidence that close contact existed between the first emperor’s China and the west before the formal opening of the Silk Road. This is far earlier than we formerly thought,” said Li Xiuzhen. “We now think the Terracotta Army, the acrobats and the bronze sculptures found on site, have been inspired by ancient Greek sculptures and art.”

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First ancient oracle found in Athens

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Republication from Thehistoryblog

Archaeologists have discovered the first ancient oracle of Apollo in Athens. Others have been found elsewhere in Greece, most famously the Oracle of Delphi, but this one is the only discovered in Athens. It’s in Kerameikos — the old potters’ quarter (hence the name) — northwest of the Acropolis in downtown Athens. It’s the site of a necropolis used over different periods known today as the Street of the Tombs for the funerary moments and stelae that line the road to Eleusis where the mysteries were performed.

Just south of the burial ground is a sanctuary discovered by Kyriakos Mylonas, a pioneer of scientific archaeology in Greece, in 1890. Myolnas unearthed a marble omphalos stone set in a rectangular enclosure between the altar and a triangular statue base in a cult niche. The omphalus, meaning navel, symbolized the center of the world. It was also believed to enable direct communication with the gods. The omphalos stone at the Oracle of Delphi was hollow and is believed to have been part of the ritual reading the oracular gases that came up through it. Because Hecate was frequently depicted as having three forms, Myolnas thought the base once held a statue of Hecate and that the sanctuary was dedicated to her, but Artemis was also sometimes depicted in triplicate, and several inscriptions and other artifacts were later found on the site indicating it was a sanctuary of Artemis Soteira, meaning Artemis the Saviour.

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The Return of Pan

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The god Pan. A fine artwork by Jim Colorex

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It’s still summertime, so I’m in the mood for something different today.
A few days ago I remembered an old, beloved song of the Waterboys (Michael Scott’s band), called ‘The Return Of Pan’. It’s a nostalgic song with references to the Irish island of Inisheer (Aran Islands) and the Greek district of Arcadia (actually Pan’s motherland and also my motherland).
Initially Pan was probably a local deity or agathodaemon of the Arcadians (a Hellenic people of Peloponnesus’ interior) before becoming a Pan-Hellenic god. Soon his cult was adopted by the Etruscans (who used to adopt unquestionably everything Greek!) and then by almost all the peoples of ancient Italy. At the same time Pan’s cult was spread to Western Asia Minor and during the Hellenistic and Roman Period, I suppose that it was spread in most of the Mediterranean regions.
I don’t know much about the ancient Celtic gods but from this song I suppose that there was a goat-like god of the Celts, similar enough to Pan, connected to Inisheer and the Aran Islands. And I do not mean Kernounos who was a deer-like god.

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Πολύχρυσαι Μυκῆναι…

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Αναδημοσίευση από το σπουδαίο Ιστολόγιο Ανιχνευτές  (http://anihneftes.wordpress.com/ για Αρχαία Ελληνική Ιστορία και Αρχαιολογία και   http://anihneftes.blogspot.gr/  για Νεότερη Ελληνική Ιστορία κ.α.)

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Στοά, ἀρ. φύλ. 292, 24.11.1876

« Περὶ τοῦ σκελετοῦ ὅστις εὑρέθη ἐν Μυκήναις ἡ ἐν Ναυπλίῳ ἐφημερὶς «Ἀργολὶς» δημοσιεύει τὰ ἑξῆς.

Μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα εὗρον προσωπίδα χρυσῆν, νεαροῦ ἀνδρὸς καὶ μέγα φύλλον χρυσοῦ, δίκην θώρακος. Ὁποία ὅμως ὑπῆρξεν ἡ ἔκπληξίς των, ὅτε ὑπὸ τὴν προσωπίδα καὶ τὸν θώρακα εὗρον σκελετὸν ἀνθρώπινον σῶον, διατηροῦντα ἔτι μορφὴν ἀνθρωπίνην, εἰ καὶ πελιδνοτάτην, ὡσεὶ καστανόχρουν! Ἦτον ὥς τις μούμια. Ἡ σιαγὼν διατηρεῖ ἔτι ὅλους τοὺς ὀδόντας, 32 τὸν ἀριθμόν. Φαίνεται ὥς τις κοιμώμενος! Τὸ στῆθος εἶναι εὐρὺ καὶ διατηρεῖται ἔτι ὁ θώραξ συνεχόμενος οἱονεὶ ὑπὸ ἐπιδερμίδος.

Εὑρέθησαν δὲ σὺν αὐτῷ μία ὡραία χρυσῆ ζώνη μὲ κροσσοὺς χρυσοῦς, ξίφος μὲ λαβὴν χρυσῆν ἐξαίσιον καὶ πολὺ ὑπέροχον πάντων τῶν τέως ἀνευρεθέντων. Ἔτι δὲ καὶ παραξιφίδιον ὡραῖον, σπιθαμιαῖον. Πρὸς δὲ καὶ (πρῶτον ἤδη) τεμάχια ξύλων κατὰ τὸ μᾶλλον καὶ ἧττον ἐφθαρμένα. Τὸ μοναδικὸν τοῦτο θέαμα ἐθάμβωσε πάντας. Δὲν ἦσαν πλέον τέφρα καὶ ὀστᾶ. Ἦτον ἄνθρωπος προαιώνιος σύσσωμος. Παράδοξον! Ἐσκέφθησαν νὰ μεταφέρωσι τὸν σκελετὸν αὐτόν, ἀλλ’ εἶδον, ὅτι τοῦτο εἶναι ἀπολύτως ἀδύνατον καὶ ὅτι μόλις τὸν ἐγγίσωσι θὰ διαλυθῇ εἰς τὰ ἐξ ὧν συνετέθη, εἰς τέφραν. Μεγίστη δὲ φροντὶς καταβάλλεται νὰ διατηρηθῇ τὸ λείψανον τοῦτο ἀκίνητον, ἄθικτον εἰς τὸ μέρος, ἐν ᾧ εὑρέθη, νὰ καλυφθῇ δὲ τοῦτο διὰ μεγάλου ὑαλίνου θολωτοῦ πώματος καὶ νὰ στεγασθῇ ἀκόμη, ὡς σεπτὸν καὶ ἀνεκτίμητον ἀγλάϊσμα τῶν ἐρήμων Μυκηνῶν.

Ὁ Κύριος Ἐρρίκος Σχλίεμαν ἀποτελειώσας τὰς ἐν Μυκήναις ἀνασκαφὰς ἔρχεται ἐντὸς τῆς ἑβδομάδος ἐνταῦθα κομίζων τὸ σῶμα τοῦ νεκροῦ ἐκείνου, ὃν ὑπολαμβάνει ὡς τὸν τοῦ Ἀγαμέμνονος. Τὰ τελευταῖα ἀνακαλυφθέντα εἶναι τὰ ἑξῆς: Δύο πλάκες χρυσαῖ σφυρήλατοι, ἑκάστη τῶν ὁποίων παριστᾷ βουκέφαλον καὶ λέοντα καταδιώκοντα ἔλαφον· κύπελλον χρυσοῦν μετὰ δύο σειρῶν τοῦ συμβολικοῦ σημείου τοῦ ἁγίου πυρός, ἕτερον μέγιστον κύπελλον χρυσοῦν· ἕτερον ἐξ ἀλαβάστρου ὕψους 0,25, δύο ἀργυρᾶ κύπελλα, 128 κομβία χρυσᾶ, 4 λαβὰς ξίφους περιβεβλημένας χρυσῷ, δύο ἐπίσης χρυσοῦς σωλῆνας, 11 ξίφη χάλκινα, ἐξ ὧν τὰ δύο μόνον ἀκέραια καὶ μήκους τὸ μὲν 0,94 τὸ δὲ 0,74.

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QUADRIREME, QUINQUEREME, DECEMEREME &other multumeremes – PART I , The origins of the colossal warships of the Hellenistic Era

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  Hepteres

Front, top and side view of a hepteres (septemereme). The diagrams in the upper part (arris of ships) depict the evolution of the arrangement of the oarsmen, from the original Greek penteconter to the Roman imperial trireme (Credit: John Warry / Salamander)

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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Around 500 BC, the trireme (an invention of the Corinthians) became the basic warship of the Greek, Phoenician, Etruscan, Lycian and other Mediterranean war fleets. The trireme supported the “thalassocracies” of Athens, Carthage, Corinth, Syracuse, Tyre, Caere/Caisra (Cerveteri), Aegina and other Greek, Phoenician and Etruscan city-states.
The campaign of Alexander the Great in Asia and the overthrow of the Persian empire created a new statehood for the Greek world. The new Greek/Hellenistic states (kingdoms) which were created in Asia and Egypt were overwhelmingly more extensive than the old city-states. The new political situation had its impact on warfare, both on land and sea. The old hoplite armies numbering a few thousand hoplites gave way to armies of tens of thousands of soldiers, based on the Macedonian phalanx and the heavy cavalry (mainly Macedonian ‘Hetairoi’ and Thessalians). Similarly, the older fleets of the city-states which used the trireme as their basic warship, were replaced by the fleets of the colossal Hellenistic states in which the main warships were a number of ships larger or much larger than the trireme. This group of warships were called collectively ‘polyeres’ (‘πολυήρης’ in Greek, ‘multumeremes’ in a Latinized term) and the most typical of them were the tetreres (quadrireme in a Latinized term), the penteres (quinqueremenaiseds-type warships wereroup of oars!)), the hexeres (sexereme), the hepteres (septemereme), the hocteres (octoreme) and the deceres  (decemereme). The penteres was the most successful of them.

The tactics of naval warfare were adjusted accordingly. The triremes used mainly their speed and flexibility to prevail in naval conflicts, while the penteres and the other polyeres used their size and displacement. The main element that remained unchanged since the era of the trireme was the use of the ram, although its role in sea battle was reduced.

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