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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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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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ON THE TYPES OF THE ETRUSCAN HELMETS

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By Periklis Deligiannis

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A typical Negau helmet.
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The Etruscan weaponry was probably the most diversiform in the ancient world. The archaeological finds denote that the Etruscans (or Tyrrhenians or Tyrsenians) were very fond of their weaponry and armoury. They were taking much care of their weapons, in order to be effective and forceful but also elegant. Some of the Tyrrhenian weapons were real works of art, but always lethal. It has been estimated that the Etruscan armies had a magnificent appearance. During the seven centuries of their military history, the Tyrrhenians were using defensive armour and offensive weapons of Anatolian, native Italian (mostly Umbrian and Early Oscan), Venetic (ancient Venetian), Archaic and Classical Greek (Southern mainland and Macedonian), Assyrian, Punic and other Semitic, Iberian, Celtic (La Tene culture), Hellenistic Greek, Late Oscan, Campanian and other origins. But it would be wrong to consider them as common copyists. Although they ‘borrowed’ a large part of their weaponry from other peoples and warlike cultures, they developed it enough to produce their own distinct types of effective and elegant weapons.

etruscan visor mask.Vulci, V c B.C.

Etruscan visor for the protection of the cheeks and the chin. It was added to Negau, ‘hat’-type or other ‘open’ types of helmet (Vulci, V cent B.C.)

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ETRUSCAN WARFARE: ARMY ORGANIZATION AND TACTICS (Part II)

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Larth Porsena’s Etruscan army is concentrating outside Rome (top left) – a classic artwork by Peter Connolly. Porsena on the right is giving orders. A large variety of Tyrrhenian/Τyrsenian weaponry is depicted. The strong Greek influence is obvious, as well as the Italian elements.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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Continued from  Part I

Despite Titus Livius’ reference to the “numerous Etruscan warriors”, they would be quite more numerous if their society was organized more democratically, a brilliant evolution of the Greek city-states which the Tyrsenians persistently refused to follow mainly because of ethno-social reasons. Livy quotes that in 225 BC the Etruscans and the Sabini raised 50,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry to assist Rome against the Celts. Taking into account that in this year the heavy-populated Southern Etruria was already Roman territory, and some other parameters, we reach an estimate of 80,000 combatants (men able for service) for late 6th century BC Etruria. A poor figure for a country that as has been calculated by British and Italian scholars, it had a population of around 600,000-800,000 (higher and lower trustworthy estimates). In comparison, the Greek regions of Italy and Sicily had a significantly higher percentage of combatants on their total population, because of their higher politico-economic system, mainly their democratic or milder aristocratic regime. Because of this lack of combatants, a significant portion of the armies of the Tyrsenians consisted of their vassals, allies or mercenaries, such as the Umbrians, Latins, Oscans, Golaseca culture Celts and others.
Besides the infantry, the Etruscan armies had also strong cavalry units. However the Tyrrhenian horsemen used to fight on foot, ie their horses were mostly a transport. They were fighting on horseback only when they had to confront enemy cavalrymen. That is why their equipment was essentially hoplite. The harness of the horses belonged to Greek types. The war chariot was introduced in Etruria around the late 8th century BC, but it is very doubtful if it was used as a shock weapon. After the prevalence of the Greek-type hoplite phalanx it became a transport of the Etruscan generals, until the 5th century BC when it disappeared from the battlefields. After that, the chariot was used for the Triumphs of the Tyrsenian generals, a legacy that was inherited to the Triumphs of the Roman consuls.

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ETRUSCAN WARFARE: ARMY ORGANIZATION AND TACTICS (Part I)

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chariotA Tyrrhenian war chariot, used especially in ceremonies.
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By Periklis Deligiannis

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In antiquity, at least ten different ethno-linguistic groups shared the Italian Peninsula and the neighboring islands. Its fertile land attracted invaders and colonizers coming from various other regions. Only two of these ethno-linguistic families were Italian (Italic); the Latin group and the Osco-Umbrian group, which were a minority among the peoples of the newcomers. All the rest were migrants from elsewhere:  The Iapyges (Iapygians) and the Piceni of eastern Italy spoke Proto-Illyrian languages, originating partly from the opposite Dalmatian coast. The Ligurians in the north-west were a very ancient people who formerly used to live in much of Western Europe. The Veneti or Eneti of the north-eastern country, ancestors of the modern Venetians, were in a similar ethno-linguistic position. Many scholars believe that they were an Illyrian people.

The Siculi (or Sikels), Sardi and Corsi who lived in Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica respectively, have been linked by the modern researchers to two of the renowned “Sea Peoples” of the Aegean Sea who created havoc around the Eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Bronze Age, namely the Shekelesh (Shklsh) and the Sherden or Shardana (Shrdn). These two migrant seafaring tribes, rather of Anatolian origin, were possibly mixed with the Ligurian and Iberian natives of these islands to produce the aforementioned peoples. The Corsi seem to have been an offshoot of the Sherden/Sardi. The other two peoples of Sicily, namely the Elymi (Elymians) and the Sikani had rather ‘Iberian origins’ accorging to the ancient Greek writers, that is to say rather being natives of the local Mediterranean pre-IE ethnolinguistic substratum. The same goes for the natives of Sardenia and Corsica (living at those isles before the coming of the Sea Peoples). The Phoenicians, skillful Canaanite sailors and colonists, settled later in Sicily and Sardinia.

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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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ITALO-CORINTHIAΝ AND OSCO-ATTIC HELMETS: The Evolution of the Greek Helmets in ITALY (8th-1st cent.BC)

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By Periklis  Deligiannis

South_Italy An  Osco-Attic  helmet  of  the  Lucanians  with  many  characteristic  Oscan  novelties.

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Etruscan  hoplites  of  Tarquinia  with  Greek  arms  and  armour,  4th  century  BC.  The  hoplite  on  the  right  wears  a  proper  Attic  helmet.  The  left  one  wears  a  mixed  Phrygo-Attic  helmet.

The  peoples  of  ancient  Italy,  firstly  the  Etruscans  and  the  Iapyges  (later  known  as  ‘Apulians’),  used  almost  all  types  of  the  Archaic,  Classical  and  Hellenistic  Greek  helmets:  the  Corinthian,  the  Chalkidean,  the  Attic (Athenian),  the  Boeotian  (for  the  cavalry)  and  later  the  Thracian,  the  Phrygian  and  all  the  Hellenistic  types.  They  had  particular  preference  for  the  first  three  types.  In  this  article, I  will  deal  specifically  with  two  types  of  helmets  in  Italy  which  originated  from  the  evolution  of  the  original  Greek  respective  ones:  the  Italo-Corinthian  and  the  Italo-Attic  or  Osco-Attic  helmet  (in  fact,  the  Osco-Attic  is  the  main  variety  of  the  Italo-Attic  group  of  helmets).
The  Italo-Corinthian  helmet  (also  known  as  Pseudo-Corinthian,  Apulo-Corinthian  or  Etrusco-Corinthian  )  was  born  out  of  the  habit  of  the  warriors  of  Italy  to  wear  their  Corinthian  helmet  raised,  even  when  the  battle  began.  Because  of  this,  the  protective  visor  gradually  evolved  into  a  decorative  ‘pseudo-visor’  while  the  helmet  was  manufactured  in  a  manner  that  did  not  cover  the  face  anymore.  In  the  later  centuries,  Attic-type  cheek-protectors  were  added  in  it.

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THE UNKNOWN HISTORY OF THE ATTIC/ATHENIAN HELMET

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis
The  standard  type of  Attic/Athenian  helmet  of  the  Roman  officers.

The  Attic  or  Athenian  helmet  was  an  invention  of  the  ancient  Athenians,  derived  from  a  transformation  of  the  older  Chalkidean  casque  (or  Chalkidian).  The  History  of  the  Attic  helmet  spans  to  more  than  a  thousand  years  and  belongs  paradoxically,  more  to  the  Italian-Roman  rather  than  the  Greek  arsenal.
The  ancestral  Chalkidean  helmet  (6th  century  BC)  was  a  “lighter”  type  of  the  even  older  and  famous  Corinthian  or  Dorian  helmet (the  typical  helmet  of  the  Classical  Spartans).  The  Chalkidean  helmet  came  from  the  attempt  of  the  Chalkideans  to  solve  the  problem  of  the  limited  vision  and  hearing  of  the  hoplite,  because  of   his  Corinthian  helmet.  The  Chalkideans  were  the  people  of  the  city-state   Chalkis  in  the  island  Euboea, famous  for  its  weaponry  during  the  Archaic  Era (7th cent. – 479  BC).  It  seems  that  the  Chalkidean  helmet  was  popular  in  Athens  and  Attica,  as  we  can  see  in the  Athenian  vase-paintings.  This  preference  might  be  due  partly  to  the  Ionic  ethnological  affinities  of  the  Athenians  and  Euboeans.
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