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Japanese arms and armour of the Muromachi and Edo era (part II)

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Japanese arms and armour of the Muromachi and Edo era (part I)

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In this collection of images I chose to present arms and armour of Japan mostly of the Muromachi (Ashikaga) and Edo periods, and also some from later historical eras, which are typical and non-typical as well. That is why I do not present the renowned Japanese swords nor do I insist so much on presenting other well-known items of the Samurai weaponry on which a disproportionally great deal of attention has been given.  I chose to present a more generic variety of Japanese traditional weaponry. The following images include helmets, quivers, spears, horse chanfrons, battle-axes, early pistols, a variety of armours and other military items.

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Beginnings of the Viking peoples: The Scandinavian peoples and tribes from the Vendel Period to the Viking Age

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By Periklis Deligiannis

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Dragonhead on the prow of a Viking longship.

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The historical districts of Scandinavia. The following probable tribal districts are noted among others:  Uppland (political center of the Svears) including Vendel site, Ostergotland, Vastergotland, Smaland (small territories of other Gott/Gotar tribes), Gotland Isle (land of the Vagoth or Gutar), Oland isle (land of the Vagoth?), Hordaland (land of the Aerothi?), Ringerike (land of the Ragnaricii), Rogaland (land of the Rugii), Vestfold and Viken (main lands of the Raumarike/Raumaricii), Bohuslan (land of the Wulfings?), Halland (land of the Hallin), Blekinge (land of the Bergio?), Skane and Sjaelland (core territories of the Danes), Angel (cradle of the Angles), Jylland (land of the Jutes), Rugen island (probably colonised by the Rugii),  Nordfrisien (North Frisia).

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The Vendel Culture period of the history of eastern and southern Scandinavia (including Jutland and the Danish isles) is the era before the classic Viking Age. The Viking Age lasted from AD 793 to the early 11th century, while the Vendel Era lasted from the mid-6th century AD to the end of the 8th century and is characterized by princely burials of warlords and warriors with impressive weapons. The later historical period and the homonym cultural conglomerate (Vendel Culture) took their name from the site Vendel at the historical district Uppland in eastern Sweden, north of Old Uppsala, the ancient centre of the Svear kings. The most characteristic cemeteries were found there. It seems that Uppland – where later the important cities of the Viking age Uppsala and Sigtuna were developed – was very important politically during the Vendel period. The area was rather the political center of the tribe of the Svears (Latin: Suiri and Suirones and according to Jordanes: Suehans, Nordic: Svear, Anglo-Saxon: Sweonas, modern Swedes) who expanded to it earlier coming from Svealand, their core territory in the south. Uppland means the upper land, the land in the north.

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ON THE PHRYGIAN HELMET

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Thraco-Phrygian2

P. Deligiannis

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The Phrygian helmet had already become the “ethnic” helmet of the Macedonian armies around the end of the reign of Phillip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, and it had also been adopted by the Southern Greek states (from Thessaly and Epirus to the Peloponnesus), most of the Thracian tribes and even by the Etruscan city-states. In the Southern Greek states the Phrygian casque supplanted the pilos-type helmet which was the most common till then. The pilos-type casque had supplanted the earlier Corinthian helmet around the end of the 5th century BC.

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A case of Hellenic influence on the ancient Iberian weaponry: a Celtiberian helmet of Chalcidian design

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03 Views of the Celtiberian helmet of Chalcidian type. Its crest-holder is of Italian design.
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By Periklis  Deligiannis

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Actually, this text concerns an item from my study: The Greek influence on the weaponry and armoury of the Iberians, Celtiberians, Turdetani and other ancient peoples of the Iberian Peninsula.
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The contacts of the Aegean seafarers with the Iberian Peninsula were ancient enough, ever since the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations, although they were very limited. After the dissolution of the Mycenaean world and in general the Eastern Mediterranean world due to the economic collapse and the invasions of the Sea Peoples (13th-12th centuries BC), the relations between the Greeks and the peoples of the Iberian Peninsula were interrupted for many centuries until the Archaic Period (700-479 BC). In the Early Archaic Era navigators from Samos, Phocaea, Zakynthos, Massalia and other Greek cities, “rediscovered” the Iberian peninsula and restored trade relations with their peoples. Mostly Phocaea and her daughter-city Masallia, took the lead in establishing Greek colonies on the eastern coast of Spain, that is in the ancient ethnic territory of the Iberians. Although earlier in the 20th century it was thought among the scholars that the Iberians were the largest ethnic group of the peninsula, actually it was proved that they constituted a small portion of the population, living on the northeast coast of Spain and the immediate hinterland. The modern Catalans are the main descendants of the Iberians.

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THE PHRYGOBOEOTIAN HELMET: a case of hybrid helmet (IN MEMORIAM MIKHAEL GORELIK)

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phrygo-boeotian helmetPhrygoboeotian helmet.

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By Periklis Deligiannis

This is a little bit late dedication, but I was just informed about the death of the great Russian archaeologist, academician, historical author and illustrator Mikhael V. Gorelik (Михаил Викторович Горе́лик) who died on January 2015 in Moscow. Gorelik had been one of my favourite scholars and writers. I really admire his lifetime work especially on the study of the warfare of the Eurasian Steppes nomadic peoples.

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The Phrygoboeotian (Phrygo-Boeotian) helmet is a case of hybrid helmet used by the Macedonian armies of Alexander the Great and his Successors (Diadochoi and Epigonoi), as the archaeological finds demonstrate – either original pieces or artistic representations.
The Phrygoboeotian helmet was actually the old Boeotian casque with the addition of the peak of the “ethnic” Macedonian helmet known as Phrygian or Thracophrygian.
The Boeotian helmet was a patent of the Boeotians, initially appearing when they manufactured in metal form the shape of their characteristic leather caps. Xenophon in his “Hipparchikos” considers this casque as the ideal one for the cavalry due to its advantages, mainly the fact that it ensures a wide visual range for the cavalryman.

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Non-typical Samurai helmets and armor (Part II)

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MUSÉE DE LA CIVILISATION - Samurai Exhibition

Armour, begining of the 17th century (end of the Momoyama period), and sashimono featuring three feathers, gilded papier-mâché (washi), end of the 16th century. Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, Dallas (Texas).
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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Non-typical Samurai helmets and armor (Part I)

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The Iberian influence is evident on the helmet and the torso armor of the great Japanese warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542–1616) who unified Japan for the last time and created the Tokugawa shogunate: they are specifically Portuguese-inspired. The helmet seems to be of the European Cabasset type with a Japanese neck guard while the torso armor is the typical Renaissance European type of the 16th-17th centuries.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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I go on with the tribute to more unknown aspects of Samurai warfare of the Muromachi (Ashikaga) and Edo periods of the Japanese history, presenting some non-typical helmet and armor of the Samurais, that is to say casques and armor which are somewhat unusual and distinctive. The helmets have either an unusual shape, for example they are shell-shaped or axe-shaped, or their design bear overseas influences, especially European influences. I also present some armor with rather unusual decorations or under European influence such as an armor of Tokugawa Ieyasu. In the early 16th century, the first European seafarers appeared on the seas of the Philippines and Indonesia pioneered by the Spanish expedition of Magellan (Magellan himself was a Portuguese at the service of the Spaniards). A little later, they appeared on the seas of China and Japan. The Spaniards and the Portuguese were the first to appear there as traders and colonists, to be followed by the Dutch and the British.
There are also influences from the empires of China on the design of the Samurai helmets and armor, but in these two articles I have not added any armor or helmet with clear Chinese influence. Lesser influences on the same military items originated from Korea and the Mongol and Tungus continental tribes.

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THE BATTLE OF PLATAEA, 479 BC (Part II)

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Battle P

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By Periklis Deligiannis
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Read Part I:  THE BATTLE OF PLATAEA, 479 BC (Part I)

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NEW MANEUVERS AND TACTICAL PLANS

The Greek combatants were exhausted because of the continuous ‘hammering’ of the Iranian cavalry, and this situation resulted on a disruption in their units. They finally relocated again to new (third) positions but without organization and order. This confusion led to the dispersal of the forces of the Alliance and the occupation of positions that were not those which were decided in the last military council (see part I). The units of the center of the battle order (Megarians, Corinthians, Fliasians and others) were the ones who suffered most from the attacks of the Persian cavalry. Their men wandered and eventually took positions on the Heraion, near the walls of Plataea. The Athenians began to move to the north, opposite to the direction which the Lacedaemonians followed. Herodotus says that the former were annoyed by the latter because “the Spartans were talking differently from the thinks that they were thinking.”
I believe that this behavior of the latter had nothing to do with any lack of confidence or estimation of them for the Athenians: it had to do with the standard Lacedaemonian policy of secrecy and concealment of as much as possible information about the tactics that they followed, even if the ones that were annoyed by this secrecy were their Greek comrades. It was a standard policy of the Spartan army in order not to demonstrate its superior strategy and tactics to the other city-states. It was a protective measure for the Lacedaemonian hegemony in Greece.
The Athenians, feeling sick and tired of the general lack of strategic coordination, took the brave and dangerous decision to move towards Asopos River, in the lowlands of Parasopia. It seems that they wanted to fight the enemy only by themselves (an enemy that they knew well from their victory at Marathon) and thereby gain a new triumph that would give them the opportunity to question the Spartan hegemony.
The Lacedaemonians were rather wiser following the opposite course to the South, eventually establishing themselves at the foot of Cithaeron. Thus they were protected from the Iranian cavalry. Herodotus quotes that Amompharetos, the commander of the Spartan battalion of Pitane (Pitanatos lochos) initially refused to give ground to the enemy but when the rest of the Lacedaemonian army departed, he had to follow with his company to the new protected location. The “Amompharetos’ incident”, despite the fact that the Spartan senior commanders tended to undertake independent initiatives different from the decisions of the Commander in Chief, does not seem to have happened in reality. It has been hypothesized that it was rather a story made to explain the late retreat of the Pitanatos company (rather a battalion according to the modern standards).
The Pitanatos battalion was probably a rearguard which covered the Spartan relocation to the new positions. Furthermore, Amompharetos’ battalion seems to hold an even more important and risky mission: to lure Mardonios in an attack against the Spartans. The Persian commander, watching a battalion being cut off from the rest of the Spartan army, would believe that the latter was generally in a state of confusion and disorder. Additionally if he decided to attack the Pitanatos battalion, he would have the opportunity to easily destroy a part of the formidable Lacedaemonian army. It is characteristic that the Spartans used similar tactics at the Battle of Thermopylae, when they pretended retreat in front of the Asiatic warriors so that the latter would be lured in a disorderly attack. When this did happen, Leonidas’ men stopped abruptly their retreat, regrouped on the spot and attacked the unorganized Asiatics winning the day.

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THE BATTLE OF PLATAEA, 479 BC (Part I)

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Thorax1A bell-shaped hoplite thorax of the archaic period with an extended bell-type projection in the waist, for the repulse of the enemy arrows, javelins, stones etc.

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By Periklis Deligiannis
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[Actually, this paper is a  subchapter of my published book: The Spartan army, Athens 2007].
In the Greco-Persian Wars (490-479 BC) between the Achaemenid Persian Empire and the defensive Alliance of the city-states of South Greece, the victory of the latter at the sea Battle of Salamis (480 BC) on Xerxes’ fleet, secured the control of the sea for them. The Asiatic fleet (mainly East Phoenician) was neutralized and fell back to the eastern Aegean. However, the Persian army remained almost untouched. King Xerxes, fearing the possibility being trapped in Greece and eventually captured or killed after a possible defeat on land, withdrew “discreetly” in Asia officially considering that the objectives of his campaign had been achieved. Before he withdraws, he left his cousin Mardonios (Mardonius in the Western historiography) as head of the army in order to continue the military operations. Mardonios was a stubborn and brave man (his name means the “gallant” in ancient Iranian, originating from the word “mard” for the man or the warrior). On the other hand, in the winter of 479 BC a change occurred in the Spartan military leadership, which proved to be very important for the Greek defense against the invasion. Shortly after Salamis, the Spartan royal commissioner (regent) Kleombrotos died. His office was occupied by his son, Pausanias.

Mardonios initially tried to gain over the Athenians. But the victors of the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) would not be subdued to the losing side in that battle, and twice rejected the tempting terms that he offered them, assuring at the same time the Spartan envoys who were at Salamis Island (the military base of the Athenian army and fleet) that they would never betray their Greek compatriots. Till that moment, the Spartans were avoiding the confrontation with Mardonios’ army. But at that time, they were pressed even more intensely by their Athenian, Megarian, Plataean and Aeginetan allies whose countries were either occupied by the Persians or directly threatened by them. The Spartans had to satisfy the demand of their allies and finally sent their army led by the regent Pausanias, to face the invaders who had already occupied Attica (the territory of Athens) for the second time during the Second Persian campaign (480-479 BC). The women and children of the Athenians had long ago found refuge in Peloponnese and the small islands of the Saronic Gulf. The Athenian resistance was concentrated in the Island of Salamis, where they had defeated the enemy fleet almost a year ago.

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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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