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Republication from Archaeology.org


Horses Bayeux Tapestry

(Bridgeman-Giraudon/Art Resource, New York)

Bayeux Tapestry, France, 11th c. A.D.

By the mid-second millennium B.C., the use of horses in warfare had become common throughout the Near East and Egypt. This development was made possible by advances both in the design of chariots, in particular the invention of the spoked wheel, which replaced the solid wooden wheel and reduced a chariot’s weight, and the introduction of all-metal bits, which gave chariot drivers more control over their horses. Though chariot warfare was expensive, and its effectiveness was determined by the durability of the chariots and suitability of the terrain, the vehicles became essential battlefield equipment.


War was central to Europe’s first civilisation (Minoan)- contrary to popular belief

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Minoan swords1

A collection of bronze swords and daggers from the Arkalochori Cave, Crete, belonging to the Late Minoan Era (1700-1450 BC) before the Mycenaean conquest of Knossos (c.1450). (Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, Crete).


ON THE MILITARY ARCHITECTURE OF TROY: Some remarks on the difficulty of conquering the city


1111Restored Plan of Troy’s citadel adapted from W. Dorpfeld’s excavations. The successive archaeological and urban levels are noted. Note also the outer and inner walls of Troy VI.
By Periklis Deligiannis
My initial intention was to give an outline of the military architecture of Troy but the detailed studies of W. Dorpfeld, M. Wood, H. Schliemann, R. Neumann, C.W. Blegen, J.L. Caskey, M.Rawson, M. Korfmann, D. Easton and others, most of which are free on the internet, does not leave any room to add something new to the subject beyond the usual data. Therefore, in this article I will deal with the essential result of that architecture, namely the difficulty of conquering the mighty fortress which Troy VI had been.
Which of the archaeological urban levels of the city discovered and excavated by H. Schliemann at the hill of modern Hissarlik was the city of Homer’s epic? This is one of the main problems concerning the Homeric Epic Cycle. It is considered certain that the Homeric Troy corresponds to one of the levels VI (about 1900-1250 BC) and VIIa (about 1250-1180 BC). Wilhelm Dörpfeld who in 1893-94 continued Schliemann’s excavations in Troy, indicated level VI as the Homeric city. Dörpfeld found that the last phase of that level (VIh) was hit by an earthquake and concluded that after the blow, the city was captured by enemies who according to his view they were the Homeric Achaeans. The German archaeologist found that the earthquake caused damage to the city but the destruction was the work of man, a view based on the discovery of extensive fire traces in the VIh destruction level and on archaeological evidence, mainly traces of military activity.
This theory of Dörpfeld and those who agree with him today (e.g. M. Wood and others) is the most believable in my opinion, that is why in this article I will base my analysis on the assumption that Homer’s Troy was the archaeological level VI (phase VIh). In a future article I will deal with the arguments of those who argue that Homer’s city was the level VI and the ones of those who argue that that city was level VII (less likely).

A rare and detailed representation of the total city of Troy (urban area and citadel). Most of the modern representations use to deal just with the architectural and engineering status of the citadel. Most of the defensive features mentioned in the text are noted, but please observe notably the scalar urban distribution of the buildings of the lower city and the citadel, essentially being the fourth defensive line of Troy (Copyright: National Geographic Magazine. Art by William Cook. Source on Troy: Troy project).




By  Periklis    DeligiannisMycen weapons

A  museum  collection  of  Mycenaean  bronze  weapons.  It  includes  swords  (in  Linear  B:  qi-si-poξίφος),  some  of  them  called  ‘phasgana’  (pa-ka-na,  φάσγανα),  daggers,  spearheads,  arrowheads  etc. 


The  archaeological  evidence  and  the  descriptions  of  the  Homeric  Epics  (ignoring  the  symbolic  divine  interventions  and  some  obvious  Later  Geometric  elements)  are  the  main  sources  regarding  the  Mycenaean  warfare.  In  the  Greco-Roman  world,  the  Homeric  epics  were  considered  fundamental  writings  on  the  study  of  the  art  of  war.  Especially  the  Mycenaean/Achaean  palatial  tablets  from  Pylos,  Knossos  and  Mycenae,  provide  valuable  information  about  the  military  hierarchy,  organization  and  equipment.  These  tablets  contain  public  records  compiled  by  the  bureaucrats  of  each  palace,  and  reveal  that  the  military  organization  and  the  maintenance  of  the  heavier  military  equipment  were  controlled  by  the  state.  The  Mycenaean/Achaean  nobles  were  obliged  to  provide  military  equipment  and  services.  The  tablets  on  military  issues  were  titled  as  “orchha”  (in  Linear  B  script:  o-ka,  ορχα)  –  a  word  related  to  the  ”orchos”  (όρχος,  military  group)  –  which  probably  means  the  military  unit  and/or    command.



Two  modern  representation  of  Mycenaean  armored  warriors.  

The  warrior above   wears  the  renowned  segmented  suit  of  armour  of  Dendra,  which  was  used  by  the  warriors  of  the  chariots.  He  bears  the  same  tusk-boar  helmet  with  an  inverted  crest,  and  the  same  lance  ‘enchos’  (Linear  II:  e-ke-  a,  έγχεα)    holding  it  in  a  ‘low  handle’  way.  His  greaves  are  based  on  Mycenaean  finds  from  the  Peloponnesian  Achaea.

The  warrior  below wears  a  relatively  rare  type  of  Mycenaean  armor  (Linear  II:  to-ra-ke,  θώρακεςarmor),  the  scale  armor.  He  attacks  with  an  ‘enchos’  (έγχος),  the  characteristic  Mycenaean  elongated  and  robust  spear/lance,  holding  it  in  a  ‘high  handle’  way.  Note  his  tusk-boar  helmet  (Linear  B:  ko-ru,  κόρυς),  which  is  restored  with  a  rare  item:  the  double  crest  which  is  based  on  relevant  Mycenaean  representations  (reenactment  by  the  Australian  Historical  Association  Sydney  Ancients). Continue reading

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