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Contributions to Slingshot, Journal on ancient and medieval warfare

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[Slingshot 308, September-October 2016]

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Some time now I’m contributing to Slingshot, the research Journal of the Society of Ancients (published since 1964), specialized in ancient and medieval warfare, tactics and wargaming.

Many thanks for this to Paul Innes and Nick Harbud.

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Periklis Deligiannis

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China’s Terracotta Army and the Greek involvement (part II)

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The Terracotta Army of China’s first emperor (credit: Wikimedia commons).

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By Periklis Deligiannis

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CONTINUED FROM  PART I

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The Achaemenid Persian kings were the first to settle Greek runaways, prisoners of war and mercenaries in Ferghana (W.W. Tarn and others). In 329 BCE, Alexander founded in the same valley his fortress-colony Alexandria the Furthest settling there some of his veterans and other soldiers. In the years to come, there were additional Hellenic settlements in the valley and its surrounding areas (in modern Tajikistan and Eastern Uzbekistan). In 238 BCE, the Greek provincial ruler of Bactria, Sogdiane and Ferghana declared his independence from the Seleucid dynasty. The Greeks of Bactria and Ferghana started to extend their territory to all directions. Their expansion to India resulted in the founding of the Indo-Greek kingdom – independent from the Greco-Bactrian one – which reached the peak of its power under the warrior-king Menandros.

However the ancient geographer Strabo informs us that the Bactro-Greeks marched even beyond Alexandria the Furthest, that is in the Tarim Basin and “extended their kingdom as far as the Seres and the Phryni” (Strabo 11.XI.I). The Greeks were calling “Seres and Phryni” the Chinese and the Proto-Turks or the Tibetans.  There is some evidence that the Bactro-Greeks may have sent expeditions as far as Kashgar in the Tarim Basin in the end of the 3rd century BCE, that is around the reign of the First Emperor in China (221-210 BCE). In any case, the Hellenistic art was diffused in the Tarim Basin in this era and also during the 2nd century BCE. The aforementioned Hellenistic archaeological findings in the Urumqi Museum came from this diffusion. (As I have watched in a TV reportage on the issue, there are also strong indications for the settlement of some Greek craftsmen and artists in a city of the Tarim Basin and some of them may had moved to the east, to China proper).

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China’s Terracotta Army and the Greek involvement (part I)

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A warrior of Hellenistic style along with a depiction of a centaur, woollen wall hanging, Sampul tapestry, 3rd or 2nd century BCE, Sampul, Urumqi Xinjiang Museum. It is one of the most known items of Greek style in Tarim Basin in the era that the Terracota army was manufactured (credit: Wikimedia commons).

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By Periklis Deligiannis

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The main recent event concerning Archaeology and Ancient History is the estimation in a documentary jointly made by the BBC and National Geographic, of a group of archaeologists who continue the excavations at Emperor Ch’in Shi Huang’s Mausoleum with Dr. Li Xiuzhen being the Senior Archeologist, that there was a Hellenic involvement in the construction of the renowned “Terracotta Army” of the Emperor. “We now have evidence that close contact existed between the first emperor’s China and the west before the formal opening of the Silk Road. This is far earlier than we formerly thought,” said Li Xiuzhen. “We now think the Terracotta Army, the acrobats and the bronze sculptures found on site, have been inspired by ancient Greek sculptures and art.”

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MAKE IT JUST AS THE ENEMY’S (part II): European-inspired helmets and Continental Asiatic-inspired armour of the Philippines, Indonesia and Insular Malaysia

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CONTINUED FROM PART I

08Burgonet style
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MAKE IT JUST AS THE ENEMY’S (part I): European-inspired helmets and Continental Asiatic-inspired armour of the Philippines, Indonesia and Insular Malaysia

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Continental-inspired Plate-and-mail armor, and also shield, kris sword and spear from the Philippines
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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The Insular world of Indonesia, Insular Malaysia (Sarawak, Sabah), Brunei and the Philippines had a long military tradition before the appearance of the European seafarers and colonists on their seas. Indonesia and Insular Malaysia already had influences on their warfare and weaponry mainly from the Hindu and Islamic civilizations of India, and less from Indochina, while the Philippines were under the military influence mainly of East Asia in total but actually the Philippines’s tribes were mainly based on their own native tribal warfare and weaponry. Excluding the culturally Indianized and later Islamized Indonesian and Malaysian nobility, the native tribal character was also dominant among most Indonesian and Insular Malaysian warriors.

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TIMUR (TAMERLANE) (part IΙ)

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Turcoman-Iran mail and plate armor1450

Turcoman-Iranian mail and plate armor of rider and horse of the Timurid Era (Metropolitan Museum of Art.)
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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CONTINUED FROM PART I
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In 1386, Timur invaded the area of Luristan (in western Iran) and then defeated and expelled the Jalayrids from Tabriz, most important city of Azerbaijan. Immediately after that, his army stormed Tiflis (Tbilisi), the capital of Georgia which was also annexed to his realm, thus preventing Tokhtamysh’s expansion in southern Caucasia. In 1387 the latter reacted by invading Azerbaijan, but he was defeated by Miranshah, son of Timur who had sent him to repel the invasion.

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TIMUR (TAMERLANE) (part I)

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TimurTimur’s facial reconstruction from his skull, by Soviet anthropologists.
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By Periklis Deligiannis

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Timur, wrongly quoted in Western literature as “Tamerlane” or “Tamburlaine”, was born around 1336 in Kesh, near Samarkand in Transoxiana (corresponding roughly to modern Uzbekistan). The name “Tamerlane” comes from the Greek-Latin version of Timur’s Persian address as “Timur Lenk’, meaning “Timur the lame”. Timur was a member of the Mongol Barlas tribe (or Barulas) which had been Turkified after settling in Transoxiana in the 13th century AD, following Chagatai (the son of Genghis Khan) in Central Asia. The Barlas with their headquarters at Kesh, had always been allied to Chagatai and his Chagataid successors. During the distribution of the sub-khanates of the Mongol Empire (the Great Khanate) among the Genghisids, namely the descendants of Genghis Khan, Chagatai became the Khagan (Khan) of the Mongol Khanate in Central Asia. The Khanate of Chagatai soon became a Moslem state. Its rulers and their Turco-Mongol followers and fighting men (and ancestors of Timur) embraced Islam in order to tie in religion with the populace of their khanate.

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Phylogenetic Analysis of Haplogroup G1 Reveals Migrations of Iranic Speakers

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Republication from PLOS One

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Fig 1. Ancient migrations of Iranic-speaking populations.

A) Area populated by Iranic speakers in the middle of the first millennium BC. States whose languages belonged to the Iranic and Armenian linguistic groups are shown in red (modified from [39]). B) Homeland and migration of Iranic speakers according to the major competing theories (modified from [34]).   doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122968.g001

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Y-chromosomal haplogroup G1 is a minor component of the overall gene pool of South-West and Central Asia but reaches up to 80% frequency in some populations scattered within this area. We have genotyped the G1-defining marker M285 in 27 Eurasian populations (n= 5,346), analyzed 367 M285-positive samples using 17 Y-STRs, and sequenced ~11 Mb of the Y-chromosome in 20 of these samples to an average coverage of 67X. This allowed detailed phylogenetic reconstruction. We identified five branches, all with high geographical specificity: G1-L1323 in Kazakhs, the closely related G1-GG1 in Mongols, G1-GG265 in Armenians and its distant brother clade G1-GG162 in Bashkirs, and G1-GG362 in West Indians.

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TURANIC ARMS AND ARMOUR (part II)

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Full armor of rider and horse of an Ottoman qapikulu (heavy cavalryman of the “court slaves”, similar to the Mamluks). He also has a metal kalkan shield (Museo Stibbert Florence).

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TURANIC ARMS AND ARMOUR (part I)

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An Ottoman full armor of rider and horse (Museum of Islamic Art, Doha Port Doha, Qatar.).

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By Periklis Deligiannis
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In the following images, I present an indicative collection of arms and armour of the Turanic empires and peoples of the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era (according to European chronology) which witnessed the greatest extent of the Turanic realms. They are arms and armour for men and horses, coming from the Sultanate of Delhi, the Mughal Empire in India, the Tatars of the Golden Horde, the Ottoman Empire, the Mamluk Sultanate, the Turkoman-controlled Empires of Iran, the Central Asian Turanic tribes and elsewhere.
The images are taken from museums and organizations such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Furusiyya Art Foundation, Topkapi Palace Museum (Constantinople), Museum of Kulikovo Battlefield (representations by M. Gorelik whom I sincerely congratulate for his lifetime work), Museo Stibbert in Florence, Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, the Royal Academy of Arts (London) and others. If I do not know the museum of origin of an image, I mention that in its caption.

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THE HEPHTHALITES (WHITE HUNS) AND THE GENESIS OF THE AVARS

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis1

an  Avar  horseman,  armed  with  a  composite  bow  and  a  nomad  cavalry  spear  (copyright:  V. Vuksic).

The  first  European  mention  of  the  Hephthalites  or  White  Huns  comes  from  the  Byzantine  chronicler  Procopius,  a  contemporary  of  Emperor  Justinian.  Procopius  recorded  related  comments  of  a  Byzantine  envoy  to  the  Sassanids,  who  traveled  to  eastern  Iran.  The  Chinese  chronicles  mention  the  Hephthalites  as  “Ye-ti-i-li-do”  or  simpler  as  “Ye-ta”.   It  seems  that  the  Hephthalites  were  originally  a  Hunnic  tribe,  which  was  mixed  deeply  with  the  Iranians  and  Tocharians  of  central  Asia, concluding  as  a  mixed  hunnic-iranian-tocharian  people.  This  explains  the  possibility  of  adopting  around  500  AD  the  Iranian  language  and  several  Iranian  personal  names.

The  powerful  Hephthalites  managed  to  establish  two  nomadic  “empires”  in  central  Asia,  eastern  Iran  and  India.  In  390,  their  relatives,  the  Khionite  Huns  (known  to  the  Romans  as  “Kidarites”)  paved  the  way  for  their  expansion,  when  they  defeated  the  Sassanid  Persians  and  settled  in  Bactria  and  Sogdiana  (roughly  modern  Uzbekistan  and  northern  Afghanistan).  In  420-427  AD,  the  Hephthalites  unleashed  from  their  Central  Asian  cradle,  murderous  raids  in  Persia  reaching  the  city  of  Ragai  (modern  Tehran),  until  they  were  defeated  overwhelmingly  by  the  Sassanids  (427).  But  they  came  back  and  in  454  managed  to  defeat  the  Sassanids,  intensifying  again  their  raids  in  Iran.  In  464,  new  Hephthalite  raids  forced  the  Sassanian  King  Phiruz  to  deal  with  them  in  a  series  of  wars.  The  wars  ended  in  475  with  a  peace  treaty,  which  provided  for  an  annual  payment  of  ransom  by  the  Sassanids  to  the  Hephthalites.  Meanwhile,  in  468  the  Sassanids  attacked   the  Khionite/Kidarite  Huns  slaying  them  en  masse.  The  Hephthalites  took  advantage  of  the  destruction  of  the  threatening  Khionites  and  expelled  their  remnants  from  Bactria-Sogdiana,  which  they  annexed  (473-475).  Continue reading

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