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The Weapon That Changed History

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Republication from the Archaeology Magazine

 

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Roman legionaries board on a Carthaginian warship during the First Punic War. Artwork by Peter Connolly.

by Andrew Curry

Evidence of Rome’s decisive victory over Carthage is discovered in the waters off Sicily

In his work The Histories, the second-century B.C. Greek historian Polybius chronicles the rise of the Romans as they battled for control of the Mediterranean. The central struggle pits the Romans against their archenemies the Carthaginians, a trading superpower based in North Africa. For 23 years, beginning in 264 B.C., the two rivals fought what became known as the First Punic War.

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DIONYSIUS OF PHOCAEA: Ancient Greek admiral and corsair

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Phocaea.

Ancient_theatre_Focaea

Map above: The location of Phocaea οn the Aegean coast of Asia Minor between the Aeolian Kyme and the Ionic Smyrna.
Below: The Hellenistic theater of Phocaea.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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In 494/493 BC a small but formidable Anatolian Greek naval force appeared in the sea around Sicily, causing serious problems to the Carthaginians and the Etruscans. A few months earlier, the Ionic Revolt of the Greeks of Asia Minor against the Persian rule was reaching its end. This revolt was called Ionic because the Ionians were the most numerous among the Greek revolutionary forces but they were supported as well by many Aeolians and some non-Greek Lydians and Carians. The outcome of the war was decided in the naval battle of Lade Islet.
Dionysius of Phocaea was the commander-in-chief of the Greek fleet, being the ablest Ionian admiral. Phocaea was a Greek city-state on the linguistic-dialectic border between the Ionian and the Aeolian Greeks of Asia Minor, on the Aegean coast between the Aeolian Kyme and the Ionic Smyrna. The city was Ionic (with an Aeolian minority) and small comparing to the mentioned neighbouring large cities, but it was a great naval power with many colonies around the Mediterranean, especially in the western part of it. Marseille (anc. Massalia), Monaco (anc. Monoecos Herakles’ Limen), Sain Tropez (anc.  Athenopolis), Avignon (Auenion), Arles (Theline), Nice (Nikaia), Alicante (Akra Leuke), probably Barcelona (Greek Kallipolis, later conquered by the Barcid Carthaginians and renamed to Barcinon) and finally Velia (Elea or Hyele, home of the Eleatic philosophers) are some renowned  modern French, Spanish and Italian cities founded by Phocaean colonists.

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XANTHIPPOS THE SPARTAN: REFORMING THE DISPIRITED CARTHAGINIAN ARMY

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phalanx

A  Macedonian  type phalanx, in  an  excellent  work  by  Johny  Shumate. The  Carthaginian  phalanx  of  the  same  type  had  much  of the  same  appearance,  because  the  Carthaginians  had  adopted  a  great  part  of   the  Greek  military  equipment (copyright: Johny Shumate)

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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Since  the  Archaic  Εra (7th-6th cent. BC),  Sparta  used  to  employ  mercenaries,  specifically  Cretan  archers  (Dorian  relatives  of  the  Spartans).  Since  the  time  of  the  Peloponnesian  war,  and  mostly  during  the  Hegemony  of  Sparta  over  Greece (after  404  BC),  this  city-state  became  a  significant  employer  of  Greek  mercenaries,  due  to  its  limited  number  of  hoplites.  However,  mostly  the  Spartans (Lacedaemonians)  themselves  were  sending  units  of  their  army,  under  the  leadership  of   experienced  Spartan  ‘warlords’,  to  serve  as  mercenaries  other  states,  because  of  the  financial  problems  of  their  city  which  became  more  and  more  pressing.  Despite  the  loss  of  its  power  after  368  BC,  Sparta  became  a  great  supplier  of  mercenaries,  not  only  of  its  own  Spartans  but  of  other  Greeks  also.  Gythium (the  main  Spartan/Laconian  seaport)  and  other  seaports  of  the  Tainaron  Peninsula  (Laconia)  became  during  the  4th-3rd  centuries  BC,  the  largest  mercenary  recruitment  centers  in  Greece.  The  Lacedaemonian/Spartan  mercenary  troops  consisted  mainly  of  “neodamodeis” (freed  helots),  other  Greeks (mostly  Peloponnesians),  and  secondly  by  ‘perioikoi’ (free  Laconian  and  Messenian  subjects  of  Sparta).  The  only  real  Spartans  in  these  expeditions  were  the  leader  of  the  expedition  and  a  number  of  unit  commanders  or  military  advisors.  The  expeditions  of  the  mercenaries  were  performed  under  license  of  the  official  Spartan  state.  The  mercenary  forces  used  to  depart  in  ships,  from  the  Tainaron  Peninsula.

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