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Contributions to Slingshot, Journal on ancient and medieval warfare

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[Slingshot 308, September-October 2016]

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Some time now I’m contributing to Slingshot, the research Journal of the Society of Ancients (published since 1964), specialized in ancient and medieval warfare, tactics and wargaming.

Many thanks for this to Paul Innes and Nick Harbud.

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Periklis Deligiannis

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Tessarakonteres, “Super-carrier” of Antiquity

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40eres

A tessarakonteres (40reme) according to L. Casson’s theory, that is two eikoseres (20remes) stably bound by a common deck.  

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By Periklis Deligiannis

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The Early Successors of Alexander gave a boost in the use and the development of the polyeres-type warships (multimeremes), using them widely in their wars (321 BC – early 3rd century BC). The Successors have built fleets comprised of numerous large warships, reaching the building of colossal vessels such as the ‘eikoseres’ (20reme, with twenty oarsmen on each vertical group of oars) and the enormous ‘tessarakonteres’ (40reme, with forty oarsmen on each vertical group of oars). These warships resembled to floating fortresses, very similar in size to the modern large battleships and aircraft carriers. The tessarakonteres had a crew of 6.000 men (officers, oarsmen, sailors, marines and others), as many as a modern aircraft carrier.

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Τεσσαρακοντήρης, το «αεροπλανοφόρο» της Αρχαιότητας

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40eres

Απεικόνιση μιας τεσσαρακοντήρους κατά την άποψη του L. Casson.

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Π. Δεληγιάννης

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Οι Διάδοχοι και οι Επίγονοι τους, ναυπήγησαν στόλους αποτελούμενους από πολυάριθμες πολυήρεις, φτάνοντας μέχρι την κατασκευή κολοσσιαίων σκαφών όπως η εικοσήρης και η τεσσαρακοντήρης. Όπως θα δούμε, επρόκειτο για πραγματικά πλωτά φρούρια που θύμιζαν αναλογικά τα σύγχρονα θωρηκτά και αεροπλανοφόρα πλοία. Ειδικά η τεσσαρακοντήρης έφερε συνολικό πλήρωμα το οποίο έφθανε τους 6.000 άνδρες, περίπου όσους διαθέτει ένα σύγχρονο αεροπλανοφόρο.

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6,000-year-old massacre found in Neolithic silo

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Republished from Thehistoryblog.com

general-view-of-pit

Archaeologists from France’s National Institute for Preventative Archaeology (INRAP) have unearthed the skeletal remains of a Neolithic massacre in a silo in Achenheim, Alsace, northeastern France. The silo is pit number 124 of more than 300 used to store grain and other food staples unearthed inside a large Neolithic compound surrounded by a V-sectioned ditch with defensive bastions at the entrances. The silos were only used for food storage temporarily. Once they were emptied, they were used as garbage dumps or graves. The compound dates to between 4400 and 4200 B.C., a turbulent time in Alsace which explains why the settlement needed extensive protective measures.

 

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Warhorses

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Republication from Archaeology.org

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Horses Bayeux Tapestry

(Bridgeman-Giraudon/Art Resource, New York)

Bayeux Tapestry, France, 11th c. A.D.

By the mid-second millennium B.C., the use of horses in warfare had become common throughout the Near East and Egypt. This development was made possible by advances both in the design of chariots, in particular the invention of the spoked wheel, which replaced the solid wooden wheel and reduced a chariot’s weight, and the introduction of all-metal bits, which gave chariot drivers more control over their horses. Though chariot warfare was expensive, and its effectiveness was determined by the durability of the chariots and suitability of the terrain, the vehicles became essential battlefield equipment.

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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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Two significant representations of ancient Greek vase-paintings and frescoes on military topics

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The sea-battle scene from the Aristonothos Vase on the left (of the reader) and on the right the “Battle in the River” fresco, along with the modern representations by Angel G. Pinto (image credit: Angel G. Pinto)

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By Periklis Deligiannis

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In this article, I would like to note two significant representations of ancient Greek paintings by one of my favourite artists on military topics, namely Angel G. Pinto. The image of the two representations came from his website (angelgpinto.blogspot.gr).

I was interested (rather lured) in the ad hoc themes that he chose for these two artistic representations, that is to say the “Battle in the River” – a Mycenaean fresco of the 13th century BC from the palace of Pylos – and the sea-battle scene from the “Aristonothos vase” of the Archaic Era (about 700-650 BC).

I will start from the chronologically earlier fresco, the “Battle in the River”. This artwork was found in the palace of Pylos, the administrative center of a Mycenaean state in the south-west Peloponnesus. It was one of the most potent states of the Mycenaean ‘Commonwealth’ and probably the best organized. Pylos was a power counterbalance to the state of Mycenae, although it seems to have been usually its ally.

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The meteoritic origin of Tutankhamun’s iron dagger blade

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Republication from Wiley O.Library

 

Tut's meteoritic  dagger

Tutankhamun’s iron dagger

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Scholars have long discussed the introduction and spread of iron metallurgy in different civilizations. The sporadic use of iron has been reported in the Eastern Mediterranean area from the late Neolithic period to the Bronze Age. Despite the rare existence of smelted iron, it is generally assumed that early iron objects were produced from meteoritic iron. Nevertheless, the methods of working the metal, its use, and diffusion are contentious issues compromised by lack of detailed analysis. Since its discovery in 1925, the meteoritic origin of the iron dagger blade from the sarcophagus of the ancient Egyptian King Tutankhamun (14th C. BCE) has been the subject of debate and previous analyses yielded controversial results.

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War was central to Europe’s first civilisation (Minoan)- contrary to popular belief

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Minoan swords1

A collection of bronze swords and daggers from the Arkalochori Cave, Crete, belonging to the Late Minoan Era (1700-1450 BC) before the Mycenaean conquest of Knossos (c.1450). (Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, Crete).


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Goths vs. Greeks: Epic Ancient Battle Revealed

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Another  Thermopylae[artwork by Igor Dzis]

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Republication from Live Science

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By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor

Fragments of an ancient Greek text telling of an invasion of Greece by the Goths during the third century A.D. have been discovered in the Austrian National Library. The text includes a battle fought at the pass of Thermopylae.

Researchers used spectral imaging to enhance the fragments, making it possible to read them. The analysis suggests the fragments were copied in the 11th century A.D. and are from a text that was written in the third-century A.D. by an Athens writer named Dexippus.  During Dexippus’ life, Greece (part of the Roman Empire) and Rome struggled to repel a series of Gothic invasions.

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