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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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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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On the Warfare in Ancient Israel and the Importance of Iron

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Phillistine

Philistine swords and daggers.

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Modern reconstruction of Phillistine and Canaanite battle-axes (images added by  periklisdeligiannis.wordpress.com).

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Republication from Article Myriad

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The general history of ancient Israel is, by its very nature, somewhat challenging to piece together, as the written and archaeological record is fragmentary (DeVaux & McHugh 213; Miller & Hayes 19). The limited information that is available is sourced primarily from religious texts, and the metaphorical and interpretive nature of these writings creates difficulties in establishing the accuracy of the stories as historical fact (DeVaux & McHugh 241). The same difficulties are confronted when studying the military history of ancient Israel. As DeVaux and McHugh wrote, “the very words used for military equipment are far from precise, and their meaning is often uncertain” (241). In addition, the traditional sources that are used to corroborate historical interpretations, such as archaeology, have not been helpful in terms of expanding historians’ knowledge of ancient military history in Israel.

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ON SOME POSSIBLE ‘SEA PEOPLES’ SETTLEMENTS IN SICILY, SARDINIA AND CORSICA (Bronze Age)

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Sea PeoplesΑ map in Polish, of the migrations of the Sea Peoples (Ludy Morza in Polish) in which the possible settlements of some of them on mainland Italy and the neighboring islands are noted. I do not consider possible at least the settlement of the Shekelesh in Sicily. If they were the proto-Sicels their settlement would have been in Calabria.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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Many scholars believe that some groups of the ‘Sea Peoples’ of the Bronze Age mainly after their final defeat by the Egyptians, sailed to the western Mediterranean. Their numbers are unknown and cannot be calculated, but it appears to have been small. Although the presence of groups of Sea Peoples in various parts of peninsular Italy and the neighboring large islands seems to have been archaeologically detected, today there are many disagreements among the scholars on the influence that these groups had on the ethnogenesis of later historical peoples of those regions. In this article and the next one for the peninsular Italy that will follow, I will give a very brief overview of the modern theories concerning this influence: theories that however remain controversial. A much more extensive analysis of the same topic will appear in a series of texts of mine in the future, unfortunately not in my website (but only in print). I will not deal with the most known views on the possible settlements of the Sea Peoples in Italy but mostly with some less known.
The present first article of this broader topic is dealing with the presence of the Sea Peoples in Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, while the second which will follow refers to their possible presence in mainland Italy. The names of the Sea Peoples in these two articles are noted as they were read in the Egyptian records, followed by their modern verbal performance with vowels.
It has been speculated that the Sikels, the Sardi and the Corsi who in historical times lived in Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica respectively, were associated with at least two of the Sea Peoples, that is the Shklsh (Shekelesh or Shakalasha) and the Shrdn (Sherden or Shardana). These hypothetical settlements are archaeologically supported mainly in the case of Sardinia and Corsica, through the Nuragic culture (Sardinia) and the Torre culture (Corsica) which demonstrate obvious influence from maritime peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean. It seems that the Shrdn who supposedly settled in Sardinia, colonized as well Corsica (Cyrnos in ancient Greek) forming there the Corsi people (or Cyrnii). This may be also indicated by the earlier presence of a Corsi proper tribe on the northern corner of Sardinia.

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THE EARLY MUSLIM ARABS (Part I): Origins, Unification and Warfare

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caliph_gif
The expansion of the Islamic Caliphate. The deeper color notes the initial expansion of Islam under Muhammad.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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The Arabs are one of the two main contemporary populations of the Semitic ethno-linguistic group (the Jews being the other one). The other modern populations who constitute that group are the Jews and the Semitic-speaking peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia. However the latter are of Kushite origins. The cradle of the ancient Arabs is the extensive Peninsula still bearing their name (other theories place their cradle in southern Mesopotamia or Armenia). The northern Arabs – the inhabitants of the central and northern Arabian Peninsula – were a nomadic people with mainly livestock economy, who used to raid neighboring countries. Their language became the basis of the later classic Arabic. The southern Arabs whose language differed from the Northern Arabian one, were a settled people living in Southwestern Arabia, with a mixed agriculture and livestock economy. Since the beginnings of the first millennium BC, they developed a remarkable ancient culture (kingdoms of the Sabaeans [Saba, ‘Sheba’], of the Himyarites and others). The pre-Islamic Arabian religion was polytheistic and quite resembled the religions of other Semitic peoples.

Due to the Islamic domination in the countries of the Fertile Crescent (Syria, Palestine and Mesopotamia), the Arabs assimilated the preexisting Semitic peoples, namely the Aramaeans, the Canaanites/Phoenicians, the descendants of the Assyro-Babylonians and others who almost all of them spoke the Aramaic language which completely dominated this region from the 2nd century B.C. and was much akin to Arabic. On the other hand, the modern Arabs of North Africa are not Semitic in origin in their overwhelming majority, being Arabicized descendants of Hamites, namely Egyptians and Libyans/Berbers (the latter in Libya and the Maghreb). However the Hamites are the closest relatives of the Semites and the Hamitic peoples have fully adopted the Arabic language and customs: the only exception are the Berbers of Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mali and a few other West African countries that have maintained their Hamitic language and customs but are profoundly influenced by the Arabic culture. The Arabs of Sudan, Mauritania, Mali, Zanzibar and other countries are mainly descendants of Arabicized Kushites, Berbers and black Africans.

The Arabs were well known in the Greco-Roman and the Iranian world. Several of their tribes migrated and settled in the Fertile Crescent before the Muslim conquest (until the 6th century AD). Such Arabic peoples were the Ituraeans, Saphaites (possibly a tribal offshoot of the Sabaeans), Nabataeans, Emeseni (of Emesa), Palmyrans, Hirani (of Hira), Gassanids, Lakhmids and others. After all, the Aramaic tribes who had settled in early Antiquity in the same area are considered by some scholars as proto-Arabic colonizers (I do not share this view although the Aramaeans were akin to the Arabs). In other cases, the existing Semitic tribes fused with the Arab newcomers giving them their tribal name, as in the case of the Aramaean Edomites (of Edom) who were Arabicized and became known as Idumaeans (a Hellenized version of the Aramaean “Edom”).
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ΟΠΛΙΤΙΚΕΣ ΤΑΚΤΙΚΕΣ: Η ΠΑΡΑΤΑΞΗ ΤΩΝ ΟΠΛΙΤΩΝ

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Οι Σπαρτιάτες αντιμετωπίζουν τον περσικό στρατό στις Θερμοπύλες με κλειστό σχηματισμό φάλαγγας, σε κλασσικό πλέον πίνακα του Peter Connolly.

Ο οπλιτικός τρόπος πολέμου όπως μας είναι γνωστός από τις πηγές της Κλασσικής περιόδου, είχε πλέον διαμορφωθεί έως τους Μηδικούς πόλεμους (490-479 π.Χ.). Όταν οι στρατοί δύο αντίπαλων πόλεων-κρατών συναντούντο, οι οπλίτες τους σχημάτιζαν φάλαγγα, τασσόμενοι σε μικρή απόσταση  μεταξύ τους, δηλαδή σε κλειστό σχηματισμό (κλειστή τάξη). Ετσι παρατάσσονταν οι στοίχοι και οι ζυγοί της οπλιτικής φάλαγγας. Κάθε οπλίτης διέθετε έκταση περίπου ενός τετραγωνικού μέτρου προκειμένου να μάχεται και να ελίσσεται. Οι οπλίτες δύναντο να παραταχθούν σε ανοικτότερους σχηματισμούς, αν χρειαζόταν (π.χ. η ανοικτότερη τάξη εφαρμοζόταν συχνά κατά τη συντεταγμένη προέλαση έως το πεδίο ή αν το μήκος του εχθρικού μετώπου έπρεπε οπωσδήποτε να καλυφθεί εξολοκλήρου). Στη συγκεκριμένη περίπτωση, η απόσταση μεταξύ τους αυξανόταν τόσο στο μήκος μετώπου της φάλαγγας όσο και στο «βάθος» της. Από την άλλη πλευρά, αν η φάλαγγα έπρεπε να μετατραπεί στο γνωστό συμπαγές και αδιάρρηκτο «τείχος» από ασπίδες, οι οπλίτες πλησίαζαν τόσο μεταξύ τους, ώστε οι ώμοι τους ακουμπούσαν. Επρόκειτο για την κατάλληλη τακτική όταν η φάλαγγα έπρεπε να ασκήσει  μεγαλύτερη πίεση στον αντίπαλο ή να διασφαλίσει την καλύτερη δυνατή αυτοπροστασία της. Ηταν ο ιδανικός κλειστός σχηματισμός (αν και είχε κάποια μειονεκτήματα) επειδή κατά την εφαρμογή του, η δεξιά ακάλυπτη πλευρά του οπλίτη προστατευόταν από την ασπίδα του συστρατιώτη ο οποίος ήταν ταγμένος στα δεξιά του. Ετσι σχηματιζόταν μια συμπαγής αδιάρρηκτη παράταξη η οποία στηριζόταν στην αλληλοπροστασία και την αλληλεγγύη των μαχίμων της.

Η αποστολή των «προμάχων» των «ηρωικών χρόνων» (Υστερομυκηναϊκής και Γεωμετρικής εποχής), δηλαδή των καλύτερων και περισσότερο ευπατριδών μαχητών οι οποίοι τάσσονταν μπροστά από τους άλλους πολεμιστές, δεν ήταν πλέον οι προσωπικές μονομαχίες με τους προμάχους του εχθρού. Η τωρινή αποστολή τους ήταν να διατηρούν τη συνοχή της φίλιας φάλαγγας και να φονεύουν τους προμάχους της αντίπαλης, με σκοπό να την κλονίσουν και να τη διαρρήξουν. Λόγω αυτής της αποστολής, οι πρόμαχοι παρατάσσονταν στον πρώτο ζυγό της φάλαγγας, ουσιαστικά στην ίδια θέση με εκείνη που κατείχαν στην ασύντακτη παράταξη της Γεωμετρικής περιόδου.

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Οπλιτική φάλαγγα οκτώ ζυγών (‘βάθος’) και οκτώ στοίχων (μήκος), με τους οπλίτες της σε σχηματισμό μάχης.

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GREEK FIRE: THE SECRET WEAPON OF THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE

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A  Byzantine  depiction  of  Greek  fire  in  a  miniature  from  the  manuscript  of  Skylitzes.
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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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The  “Greek  fire”  or  “sea  fire”  or  “liquid  fire”  (as  it  was  usually  called  by  the  Byzantines  themselves)  or  “Median  fire”  was  one  of  the  strongest  and  most  mysterious  weapons  of  the  Byzantine  Empire  (considering  their  composition).  The  Arabs  used to call  “naphtha”  (‘naft’)  their  own  corresponding  incendiary  substance  for  military  purposes,  a  term  which  usually  means  the  natural  unrefined  oil  or  the  refined  products  of  its  distillation.  The  use  of  flammable  substances  in  military  operations  on  land  and  sea,  was  known  to  the  Greeks  as  early  as  the  Classical  Period,  who  developed  it  especially  during  the  Hellenistic  Period.  The  term  “Median/Medic  fire”  which  was  synonymous  to  the  “Greek  fire”  in  the  Byzantine  written  sources,  indicates  that  the  Southern  Iranians  (Medes  and  Persians)  used  an  early  form  of  it  (already  from  the  pre-Achamenid  Median  period  according  to  literary  evidence).  The  Chinese  of  the  same  period  also  used  their  own  corresponding  incendiary  substances.  Moreover,  the  burning  of  the  enemy  fortifications,  troops,  ships and others,  was  one  of  the  main  military  pursuits  already  from  the  high  antiquity.  Concerning  the  Iranian  peoples,  the  development  of  inflammatory  substances  as  weapons  of  war,  was  aided  by  the  presence  of  abundant  reserves  of  crude  oil  in  Iran,  Mesopotamia  and  the  North  Arabian  Peninsula,  areas  which  were  under  the  control  or  the  political  influence  of  the  Medes  and  the  Persians.

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THE SEA PEOPLES: HISTORY, WEAPONRY AND A DETAILED LIST OF THEIR TRIBES (13th-12th century BC)

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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An  excellent  depiction (by  Igor Dzis)  of  the sea  battle  against  the  Sea  Peoples,  in  the  Nile  Delta (Copyright: Igor Dzis 2010)

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The  ‘Sea  Peoples’  (as  mentioned  in  Egyptian  and  Greek  Records – in  the  later  as  Pelasgoi, meaning  exactly  ‘Sea  People’)  was  a  tribal  union  of  the  Aegean  and  western  Asia  Minor,  whose  invasions  in  the  eastern  Mediterranean  around  1229-1187  BC  caused  destruction  of  cities,  states  and  empires  (Hittite  Empire)  and  countless  victims.  Shortly  after  the  destruction  of  Troy  VI  (almost  certainly  the  Homeric  Troy)  by  the  Achaeans (Mycenaeans),  probably  in  the  middle  13th  century  BC,  began  the  disintegration  of  the  Mycenaean  world  because  of  the  prevailing  famine  and  anarchy.  These  conditions  are  due  to  broader  socioeconomic,  political,  commercial  and  climatic  causes,  occurring  in  Asia  Minor  probably  earlier  than  the  Mycenaean  territories.  The  impressive  palaces  of  Mycenae,  Pylos  and  other  Mycenaean  citadels  belong  mainly  to  the  13th  century  BC,  giving  a  false  image  of  prosperity  for  them.  Nevertheless  it  was  a  period  of  decline  for  the  Mycenaeans,  as  shown  by  the  archaeological  findings.

The  Achaean  kings  (wanaktae)  were facing  financial  problems  as  their  factories  were producing  about  half  the  products  compared  with  the  production  of  the  14th  century  BC.  They  lacked  skilled  craftsmen  and  slaves,  although  their  territories  were  been plagued  by  overcrowding.  The  commercial  sea  routes  that  they  used  were  becoming  more  and  more  insecure,  due  to  the  increasing  piracy  and  raids,  and  their  savings  had been ‘evaporated’.  The  monarchs  and  aristocrats  were  forced  to  seek  new  areas  for  raw  materials,  new  resources,  laborers  and  slaves,  probably  lands  for  colonization,  to  plunder  the  goods  of  other  countries  and  to  discover  new  trading  routes.  So  they  destroyed  Troy,  but  soon  after  they  had  to  abandon  Greece  en  masse,  due  to  the  final  failure.  The  Achaean/Mycenaean  and  other  Aegean  navigators  who  suffered  this  politico-economic  collapse,  turned  to  the  open  sea,  and  became  the  famous  Sea  Peoples  already  from  the  first  half  of  the  13th  cent.  BC.  The  British  archaeologist  Elizabeth  French (University  of  Manchester),  suggested  that  Tiryns  in  Argolis,  the  last  Mycenaean  palace  that  was  abandoned  by  its  inhabitants (except  Athens),  was  the  base  of  the  Sea  Peoples.  She  supported  her  theory  on  the  archaeological  conclusion  that  Tiryns  had  experienced  its  greatest  prosperity  (about  1200  BC)  when  the  other  Mycenaean  citadels  had  already  turned  to  ruins  or  ‘lingered  out  their  lives’.  In  my  opinion,  Tiryns  was  probably  the  base  of  the  two  tribes  that  probably  gave  rise  to  the  Later  ‘wave’  of  the  Sea  Peoples,  i.e.  the  Peleset/Philistines  (Peleset/Pulasti  in  Egyptian,  Pelasgians  in  Greek)  and  Denyen/Danuna (most  probably  the  Greek  Danaans).

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