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THE HOPLITE SHIELDS

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vase painti
A  vase  painting  depicting  a  hoplite,  5th  century  BC.  He  is  armed  with  a  bronze  cuirass,  a  hoplite  sword  and  a  hoplite  shield  of  the  Argive  type.  In  the  interior  of  the  hoplite  shield, you  can  see  the  “antilave” («αντιλαβή»,  handle/handgrip),  the  “porpax” («πόρπαξ»,  fastener  for  the  elbow)  and  the  “telamons” («τελαμώνες»,  shoulder  belts)/ (Paris,  Louvre  Museum)

By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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The  Geometric  Period  (11th-8th  centuries  BC)  preceded  the  invention  of  the  hoplite  warfare  and  the  hoplite  phalanx (about  700  BC).  The  shields  of  the  Geometric  period  belonged  to  two  main  types:  the  “Dipylon” type  shield  and  the  “Herzsprung”  type.  The  Dipylon  shield  is  named  after  the  Athenian  Dipylon  gate,  where  a  number  of  pottery  with  depictions  of  that  type  of  shield,  was  discovered.  It  was  a  large  and  long  shield,  covering  the  warrior  from  chin  to  knees.  It  was  made  of  wicker  and  leather,  without  excluding  further  strengthening  of  wooden  parts.  Despite  its  size,  the  Dipylon  shield  was  light  due  to  its  materials.  It  had  a  curved  form  in  order  to  embrace  the  warrior’s  body.  In  the  middle  of  its  surface,  the  Dipylon  shield  had  two  semicircular  notches  for  the  easier  handling  of  the  offensive  weapons (spear  or  sword).  Notches  also  facilitated  the  hanging (suspension)  of  the  Dipylon  shield  on  the  warrior’s  back,  in  order  not  to  restrict  his  elbows  when  he  walked.  The  shield  had  at  least  one  central  handle  for  its  holding  by  the  warrior  in  battle,  and  one  or  more  shoulder  belts,  in  order  to  hang  it  on  his  back  when  not  used.  These  belts  were  called  “telamones” (τελαμώνες).  The  shape  of  the  Dipylon  shield  denotes  its  origins  from  the  famous  Minoan  and  Mycenaean  eight-shaped  shield.  During  the  Greek  Archaic  Era (7th cent – 479  BC),  the  Dipylon  shield  was  made  mostly  of  bronze  and  had  a  smaller  size:  that  is  the  “Boeotian”  type  of  shield,  named  after  Boeotia,  where  it  was  popular.

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Russian scientists use mass spectrometry to ‘look inside’ an ancient Greek amphora

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Republished from MIPT

85875287

Russian scientists have identified the components of the oldest bitumen sample to be found in an ancient vase and made an accurate estimate of its age. In their article in the Journal of Mass Spectrometry, the researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), the Institute for the History of Material Culture, the Talrose Institute for Energy Problems of Chemical Physics, and the Emanuel Institute of Biochemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IBCP RAS) propose a new and more effective approach to organic compound analysis and introduce specially designed software.

Bitumen is a form of petroleum found in natural deposits. Its use dates back to the Stone Age. The word ‘mummy’, for example, derives from the Persian ‘mūm’, or ‘bitumen’, because this substance was used in embalming. The Greeks used bitumen in construction, medicine, and warfare—it is possible that the legendary ‘Greek fire’ was based on bitumen. The oldest amphora filled with bitumen (5ᵗʰ century BCE) was discovered by Russian archaeologists on the Taman Peninsula, a highly volcanically active region (numerous petroleum seeps are located there) and a possible source of the bitumen imported by the Greeks.

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ROME MUST BE DESTROYED (Part II)

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ALEXANDER
Alexander the Great goes ashore in Asia (Minor). Artwork  by Tom Lovell.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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Continued from PART I

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I go on with some more text from my historical novel “Rome must be destroyed ” which belongs to the sub-category of Historical Fiction. For more info and text, read PART I. A reminder of the plot: Alexander the Great has not died in 323 BC (year of his death in reality). He goes on living and invades Italy, Carthage and the Western Mediterranean. The peoples of those regions (Italians, Carthaginians, Libyans, Celtiberians, Gauls and many others) fight against him under the leadership of Rome, Carthage and Samnium. The hero of my book is not a Greek but a Roman (Aelius Sembronius Vulca), originally a mercenary of Alexander and then an enemy of him. After a series of diplomatic and strategic detours, bloody battles and –finally – total warfare, the war results…..
The first part of the novel (Sogdiana) takes place in the steppes of Central Asia (modern Uzbekistan), the second part (Return) in Italy, the third (Carthage) in Carthage, the fourth and the fifth……
This is the first book of a trilogy that I wrote on this subject.

I apologize in case that the translation in English is not ”literary” enough (or maybe it is!). Copyright is mine, thereby for a probable reproduction of this text, please send to me an e-mail message.

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SOGDIANA

[continued]

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…………………………………………………………………………………………….
All the barbarians were dead, except two women. The older one had the common Asiatic appearance. Her heavy wound indicated that she was running out of time. The other woman had an uncanny beauty, a real temptation for us men from the Inner Sea. She was young and diminutive. We were impressed by her narrow slanted eyes that looked like reptilian, her protruding cheek bones in her face below the eyes, her small slender nose and her very pale, almost yellow skin. Her body which was silhouetted below her thin leather dress, appeared to be well formed. Her breasts were small, but firm and well rounded.

I knew that most of the Sauromatae people resembled in appearance to the Asiatics. I now verified from this woman and her other dead comrades, that some resembled to the Serae and the Phryni who live afar in the East, beyond India, around a large Yellow river as they call it. I have seen a few Serae merchants at Farthest Alexandria. They had the same strange appearance and the same yellowish skin. The local Sogdians speaking about them, say that they are exceptionally civilised, their kingdoms are powerful and their armies are worthy of the Greek ones. They may say it to tease the Macedonians!
Volsinius the Campanian who had captured her, was most enchanted by the reptilian-eyed woman.
“That is my trophy!” said with joy. He could not wait for the moment to enjoy her. He dragged her holding her stiffly by the hair, whilst she pounded and kicked him. Three of the soldiers, who were passionately looking at her, approached the young girl. They wanted to taste her … If they wanted her Volsinius was unable to deny. He had the right to enjoy the woman first and keep her for his own, after the others had done with her. However the Italian mercenary did not want to share the girl and he was holding tightly his bloodstained spear. Centauros who had seen the threatening situation spoke.
“We don’t have time for this. We are leaving immediately! “.
“We won’t be long Centauros …” said Numerius.
“The Sauromatae we killed were few. They surely belong to a larger raiding party. Somewhere, close by, more enemies are lurking…. “

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ROME MUST BE DESTROYED (Part I): What if Alexander the Great had not died so young?

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phalanx(artwork  copyright: Johny Shumate)

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By Periklis Deligiannis
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Many readers know that I have written a historical novel entitled ‘Rome must be destroyed : What if Alexander the Great had not died so young?’  (See List of my Published Books and Articles  and also the book’s cover on the left of this page) which has been published a few years ago in Greek. I quote here the prologue, the beginning of the first chapter and the accompanying Historical Note for the English-speaking readers. I hope you enjoy it. I apologize in case that the translation in English is not ”literary” enough (or maybe it is!). Copyright is mine, thereby for a probable reproduction of this text, please send to me an email message.

Some more text of the novel you can read in Part II
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The official abstract of the novel (from the Greek edition):
What if Alexander the Great had not died so young? Would he be able to conquer the peoples of the Known World of his era? This is an exciting novel on the adventures and the new conquests of the great king, on the glory that in reality his early death (only 33 years old) had deprived him of. Through the narration of Aelius Sembronius Vulca, an adventurous Roman mercenary in Alexander’s army, an enthralling era is coming alive. Vulca, the main hero of the novel, is following Alexander at every step of his campaigns, until around 315 BC the warrior-king turns against the peoples and states of the Western Mediterranean and dismisses all mercenaries from those regions.
Vulca, the devout soldier of Alexander who fought for ten years at his side ready to sacrifice his life for his commander, will be found on the battlefields confronting him and enemies who until then were his brotherly friends, defending his homeland against the formidable Macedonian phalanx … Will he manage to prepare Rome, Carthage and the other Italian and Western Mediterranean states for the approaching threat? A Rome torn, ravaged by wars in Italy, intrigues and personal ambitions? Alexander is determined: Rome has to open her gates or be destroyed!…
This unique alternative history novel is the first part of a trilogy on the hypothetical march of Alexander to the Western Mediterranean and Europe. It is a work based on solid historical evidence, which enthrals the reader from the first page. An exciting adventure historically based on the real plans of the great warrior-king which, if not cancelled by his sudden death, may have formed completely different the World map until today … A novel that came so close on becoming reality…
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ROME MUST BE DESTROYED

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“… To built a thousand warships larger than triremes, in Phoenicia, Syria, Cilicia and Cyprus, for the needs of the campaign against the Carthaginians and the other peoples who inhabit the coasts of Libya and Iberia and all neighboring coasts around Sicily … “
(projects of Alexander the Great  quoted by Diodoros of Sicily, Book 18, 4).

“… Others say that (Alexander) was thinking (of sailing) to Sicily and the Cape of Iapygia; instigated also by the name of the Romans whose reputation was extended.”
(projects of Alexander  quoted by Arrian in his  Alexandrou Anabasis)

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FOREWORD

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About Alexander… About the years that we fought as his soldiers and as his enemies. This is what they asked me to recount every night around the fire. Members of my family, people of my clan, archons of our community, other young or mature men who would like to hear the man who lived all these harder than anyone else. To listen about this heroic age, as they were calling it … They didn’t know…
Now, at the end of my life, now that involuntarily comes to mind the account of the life of a man, now the image of all these is more intense than ever! Sometimes I remember them with suffering, sometimes with nostalgia. And sometimes when I’m alone, tears appear on my eyes. I succeeded or not on what I was requested to do? Was I the man who had to be in those difficult times? Did I save my people? The Senate and the People of Rome…
These questions are no longer torturing me anymore. They cannot be answered by me. Let my people judge me.
“Recount your memories Vulca … Speak to us…”

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Early farmers from across Europe directly descended from Neolithic Aegeans

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Republication from biorxiv.org

58404y5

Zuzana Hofmanová, Susanne Kreutzer, Garrett Hellenthal, Christian Sell, Yoan Diekmann, David Díez del Molino, Lucy van Dorp, Saioa López, Athanasios Kousathanas, Vivian Link, Karola Kirsanow, Lara M Cassidy, Rui Martiniano, Melanie Strobel, Amelie Scheu, Kostas Kotsakis, Paul Halstead, Sevi Triantaphyllou, Nina Kyparissi-Apostolika, Dushanka-Christina Urem-Kotsou, Christina Ziota, Fotini Adaktylou, Shyamalika Gopalan, Dean M Bobo, Laura Winkelbach, Jens Blöcher, Martina Unterländer, Christoph Leuenberger, Çiler Çilingiroğlu, Barbara Horejs, Fokke Gerritsen, Stephen Shennan, Daniel G Bradley, Mathias Currat, Krishna Veeramah, Daniel Wegmann, Mark G Thomas, Christina Papageorgopoulou, Joachim Burger

Abstract

Farming and sedentism first appear in southwest Asia during the early Holocene and later spread to neighboring regions, including Europe, along multiple dispersal routes. Conspicuous uncertainties remain about the relative roles of migration, cultural diffusion and admixture with local foragers in the early Neolithisation of Europe. Here we present paleogenomic data for five Neolithic individuals from northwestern Turkey and northern Greece, spanning the time and region of the earliest spread of farming into Europe.

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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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Another Battle of Thermopylae found in palimpsest

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Republication from Τhe History blog

GermanicsGermanic warriors battling Romans (Teutoburg Forest). In my view, the Greek combatants who confronted them would have been armed like the earlier Roman auxilia of the 2nd century AD (in the mid-3rd century AD there were no longer auxilia from the Empire’s populace because they were all citizens) bearing chain mail armour, scuta (thyreos-shields in Greek) and heavy Roman swords but with helmets of traditional Hellenic types (image and comment added by periklisdeligiannis.wordpress.com)

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The leaves of books in the Middle Ages were made of parchment and vellum, created from animal skins in an expensive and time-consuming craft. It was so costly that scribes often recycled pages from earlier books, removing the ink to create a blank sheet. In the early Middle Ages, the ink was washed off and over time the shadow of former writing reappeared like a pentimento in a painting. In the later Middle Ages, they used pumice powder to scrape the ink away for good.

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LEONIDAS’ LUCKLESS BROTHER: DORIEUS THE SPARTAN

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Greek Phoenician colonizationBy  Periklis    Deligiannis

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By  the  end  of  the  sixth  century  BC,  Anaxandridas  of  the  Agiad  royal  family,  one  of  the  two  Spartan kings (Sparta  had  two  kings),  had  a  difficulty  in  bearing  children  from  his  first  wife.  The  Spartan  ephors  forced  him  to  take  a  second  wife – despite  the  southern  Greek  monogamy – in  order  to  obtain  a  successor.  Anaxandridas’  second  wife  gave  birth  to  Cleomenes,  who  was  destined  to  become  one  of  the  most  skilful  Spartan  kings.  However,  shortly  after  the  birth  of  Cleomenes,  Anaxandridas’  first  wife  also  gave  birth  to  a  son,  named  Dorieus.  Although  Dorieus  came  from  the  king’s  first  wife,  Cleomenes  succeeded  Anaxandridas  to  the  throne  as  firstborn.  Dorieus  became  furious  because  of  the  takeover  of  royal  power  by  Cleomenes.  Thus  he  decided  to  organize  a  colonization  campaign,  in  order  to  leave  forever  Sparta  (515  BC).  His  first  choice  for  the  founding  of  his  colony,  was  the  site  of  the  river  Kinyps  in  Libya.  The  men  who  followed  him  out  were  referred  by  the  sources  as  “Lacedaemonians”  and  it  seems  that  they  included  a  few  real  Spartans  (Spartan  citizens,  called  omoioi).  The  Spartan  omoioi  followers  of  Dorieus  were  mainly  his  personal  friends  and  some  members  of  his  political  faction.  The  majority  were  other  Lacedaemonians,  mainly  hypomeiones  (fallen  citizens,  ex-Spartans  who  were  just  beginning  to  become  numerous),  perioikoi (free  Lakonian, Messenian  and  Pylian  subjects  of  Sparta)  and  Peloponnesian  allies.

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Answering to a New Yorker author’s criticism on my articles about the Argonautica (and making an exception)

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ArgoGathering of the Argonauts, Attic red-figure krater, 460–450 BC, Louvre (G 341) (Wikipedia commons)
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Periklis  Deligiannis

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Sometimes some of my articles are criticized by various scholars, historians, researchers and other readers around the world. These criticisms are sometimes positive, sometimes negative and sometimes malicious or aggressive/abusive. Except the latter, all of them are welcome.
The most recent criticism (negative criticism, but I think not malicious) was made by an editor and writer from New York, Jason Colavito, who wrote here a long article in which he presents a number of his ‘arguments’ based on which he is trying to question the conclusions of my two articles on the Argonautica. Although I generally do not answer to the criticism of others, I will make an exception for Mr Colavito because my vacations have already started and I have plenty of time (no, I’m not on a beach of a Greek island, but in the cement-city of Athens under a heat wave!).

Mr Colavito writes that “Deligannis makes a number of errors, beginning with the fact that he takes the developed Argonaut myth of the Classical and Hellenistic period as representative of the state of the story in the Archaic period and earlier, including all of the people and places of the standard version of the myth. There is no evidence that the full complement of fifty some-odd Argonaut celebrities drawn from all over Greece were original to the myth. Homer knows nothing of them, nor does Hesiod’s Theogony. The Hesiodic fragments contain episodes…”

It is obvious that the writer of the above paragraph/argument does not have a picture in depth, of the topography, geography and settlement history of the Mediterranean region in Antiquity, which probably plays the most important role in dating the Argonautic myth and mostly the chronology of its approximately final form. The myth of the Argonauts mentions several cities such as Peiresiae, Oechalia, Iolkos, Titaros, Alope, Tipha, Lerna, Pylos, Arene and others which in the Classical and Hellenistic period either no longer existed and no one knew their location, or had become insignificant villages, overshadowed by famous nearby cities. Additionally, the legend does not mention at all very important cities of the Classical and Hellenistic period of the same areas such as Chalkis, Eretria, Histiaia, Megara, Marathon, Eleusis, Corinth (Ephyra), Sicyon, Patrae, Orchomenos in Arcadia, Mantineia, Olympia and many others. And above all, no one in the Classical and Hellenistic period knew for sure the location of the Bebryces, Salmydessos, the Symplegades, not even of Colchis (Colchis’ location at the foothills of the Caucasus was a reasonable hypothesis made by the subsequent Greeks but not a certainty).
The Classical and Hellenistic Greeks knew only the location of Lemnos, Samothrace, and the territories of the Doliones and the Mariandyni, but specifically for the Mariandyni this is doubtful because the homonymous people of their time is not certainly identical to the tribe encountered by the Argonauts. All these peoples, figures and cities obviously belong to a very ancient period (Proto-Mycenaean period, archaeologically known as Middle-Helladic); so ancient that the Classical and Hellenistic Greeks knew them only as ‘empty names’ without location or personal history. I think it is very unlikely for the later and much later (Hellenistic) Greeks to attach the lesser legends of such ’empty’ place names, peoples and other to the ‘central’ myth of the Argonautica. After all, that central myth would be very reduced in its original form.  I think that this evidence is enough to demonstrate that the Argonaut myth of the Classical and Hellenistic period is representative enough of the state of the story in the Archaic period and earlier, including all of the people and places of the standard version of the myth.

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ΤΗΕ GELOAN WAR MACHINE (ANCIENT SICILY) – PART II

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phalanx

cavalryThe hoplite phalanx (vase-painting above) and the cavalry of the Archaic type (artwork below, by Giussepe Rava) were the two main army formations of the Siciliot and Italiot Greeks including the Geloans.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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CONTINUED FROM PART I
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Gela completed her hegemonic march when eventually Gelon, her greatest son, made Syracuse his capital. Henceforth, Acragas substituted Gela as the second most powerful city-state of Sicily, a great rival for Syracuse.
Many readers accustomed to the History of World War II, must have known Gela, because her site was one of the main landing areas of the Allied assault on Sicily on the 10th of July 1943.
After this historical introduction, I am going to deal in greater detail with ancient Gela’s armed forces.
The main military disadvantage of Gela was the lack of natural harbours in her core territory. Because of this geophysical situation, the Geloans never had a navy of some account. When the Geloan tyrants formed the ‘Geloan Empire’, they exploited the ports and the warships of the subject naval city-states to establish a navy.
The limited occupation of the Geloans with shipping and the fertile plain around their city turned them into an agricultural and ranching life. Moreover the ancestors of most settlers, although all of them islanders, were more attached to the land occupations than to sea life: these were the Cretans, the Coans and the colonists from the city-states Hialysos and Kamiros of Rhodes; the Lindians were actually the exception to this ‘general rule’.

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HOPLITE PHALANX: WHERE IT WAS INVENTED?

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Hoplitikon

A  hoplite  clash,  one  of  the  most  murderous  encounters  of  ancient  warfare (Australian  Historical  Association  Ancienthoplitikon  of  Melbourne).

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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The  conception  of  hoplite  warfare  (and  tactics)  is  one  of  the  greatest  “revolutions”  in  world  military  history.  Most  scholars  regard  it  as  important  as  the  invention  of  the  saddle  with  stirrups,  which  made  the  heavy  armoured  cavalry  ascendant  in  the  battlefields,  or  the  invention  of  firearms  which  changed  forever  the  nature  of  war.

The  abandonment  of  the  organization  of  the  tribe-state  by  the  southern  Greeks  and  the  progress  of  the  institution  of  the  Greek  city-state  and  the  socio-economic  changes  that  followed  this  fundamental  change  had  progressed  significantly  in  the  late  Geometric  period.  The  new  conditions  that  followed,  led  to  the  invention  of  hoplite  warfare  and  the  corresponding  new  kind  of  warrior,  the  hoplite.  There  is  a  great  controversy  among  scholars,  about  which  was  the  southern  Greek  territory  where  the  new  battle  system  first  appeared.  The  Argives,  the  Thebans,  the  Spartans  or  the  Mantineians  are  denominated  or  implied  by  various  ancient  writers  as  the  inventors  of  hoplite  warfare.  The  strongest  opinion  among  scholars  is  claiming  that  the  hoplite  phalanx  first  appeared  in  a  state  –  or  in  a  group  of  neighboring  states  –  of  eastern  and/or  southern  Peloponnese,  in  Doric  or  Arcadian  territory.  Corinth,  Sicyon  and  the  small  city-states  of  Argolis  should  be  excluded  from  the  potential  inventors  of  the  hoplite  phalanx,  because  their  citizen-warriors  have  adopted  it  under  the  influence  of  the  Argives  of  the  tyrant  Pheidon.  Athens  and  the  rest  of  Attica  should  be  excluded  also,  for  similar  reasons. Continue reading

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