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Palintonon (ballista) heavy catapult

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Detailed diagrams of a gigantic palintonon (παλίντονον), around 334 BC (siege of Halicarnassos), probably by E.W. Marsden. The palintonon was a Hellenic heavy catapult, mostly stone-throwing, which was constructed in various scales (from just heavy to enormous). It was invented and intensively used by the Greeks in the early or mid-4th century BCE but it was soon adopted by the Carthaginians, the Romans and other ancient states. It became a ‘beloved’ weapon for the Republican and Imperial Romans: they called it ‘ballista’, but the correct initial version was ‘ballistra’ (βαλλίστρα), also a Greek term from the verb ‘βάλλω’ that is “to shoot”.

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How contemporary conflicts resemble the medieval wars in Scandinavian areas

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Republication from www.hf.uio.no ( University of Oslo)

“King Sverre’s march over the Vosse mountains” by Peter Nicolai Arbo (1862). Sverre was King of Norway from 1184 to 1202. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

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There are many ways in which to understand the new wars of today. One way is to look at the wars that took place in medieval times.

Most wars since 1989 have not been fought between states. The divisions associated with classical types of warfare – between soldiers and civilians, soldiers and criminals, war and peace – are not that clear anymore. Such as the present situation in Afghanistan.

In recent years, there has been a major international discussion among political scientists and anthropologists about how to understand new types of wars that have arisen since the Cold War.

The classical understanding of the term “civil war” is often imprecise when wars are fought across national borders. Instead, the term “new wars” has become more common among many experts and researchers.

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Half the population of the Viking-town Sigtuna were migrants

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Republication from Stockholm University

New analysis of the remains of 38 people who lived and died in the town of Sigtuna during the 10th, 11th and 12th century reveals high genetic variation and a wide scale migration. The study is the largest of its kind so far in Sweden and a combination of several methods, including DNA analysis and Strontium isotope analysis of teeth. The results are published in a new article in Current Biology.

Sigtuna is well known as one of the earliest actual cities in the area and was formally founded around 980 AD. More unknown is the fact that the picturesque town, which today is home to around 10 000 people, was a distinctly cosmopolitan place back then.

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Fortification plan of Vincennes, French fort of 14th century

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Fortification and architectural plan of Vincennes, French fort of the second half of 14th century.

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A detailed map of the Avar kingdom in Europe

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An interesting detailed map in Hungarian, of the Avar kingdom in Europe. It shows the movements of the Avar people, the expansions of its realm (shades of green) and other features, easily understood.

Transl: Avar Birodalom: Avar kingdom,  Keletromai Birodalom: East Roman empire

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Book Review: The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the Process of Islamization from the 11th through the 15th Century by S. Vryonis, University of California Press

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The loss of Asia Minor is often seen as the most decisive factor in the fall of the Byzantine Empire. Asia Minor was the territorial core of the empire during the Middle Byzantine Era. It was a wealthy and populous country of many millions of inhabitants, the main source of resources, raw materials, human resources, employees and soldiers for the Byzantine Empire. Its loss was, indeed, a major cause for the collapse of the Empire. However, this collapse was due to higher and wider political, social, economic, military, religious, ethnological and other negative parameters which in the first place led to the fall of Byzantine Asia Minor and then to the fall of the other imperial territories and eventually of the capital itself. More

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