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Aegean Koine: the Minoan phase ca. 2200-1400 BCE

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The Minoan phase of the Aegean Koine (economic and socio-cultural “Commonwealth”) in this excellent German map. Note the colonies of the Minoans on the nearby islands and their influence on the mainland.
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The figure-of-eight shield and other shield types of the Bronze Age Aegean (part II)

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Reconstruction of the so-called “Shield frieze” fresco in the Old Palace at Tiryns with depicted figure-of-eight shields (photo credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art)
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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CONTINUED FROM PART I
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Most scholars believe that also the Dipylon shield of the Geometric period (10th-8th centuries BC) came from the evolution of the full-body figure-of-eight shield. The Dipylon shield, which was named after the Athenian Dipylon gate where the first pottery with images of the former, was discovered, had much in common with the figure-of-eight shield. It had a large size, covering the warrior from the chin to the knees. It was made of wicker branches and leather, without excluding its further enhancing with more wooden parts. It was curved to a degree that “encapsulated” the body of the warrior, like the figure-of-eight shield. In the middle of its surface, it had two semicircular notches which facilitated the handling of the spear and the sword. But many other scholars believe that the Dipylon and the Boeotian shield came from the main Hittite type of shield which had roughly the same shape.

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The figure-of-eight shield and other shield types of the Bronze Age Aegean (part I)

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Akrotiri tower shieldsHeavy spearmen with tower shields depicted in a fresco from Akroteri in Thera. Minoan period. Note the different colorful skins covering the surface of their shields.
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Reconstructed Mycenaean fresco of a figure of eight shieldReconstructed Mycenaean fresco of a figure-of-eight shield
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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In the Minoan and Early Mycenaean period (until the 14th century BC) the main types of shield (called σάκος in Mycenean Greek) used by the early spearmen of the Aegean was the ‘tower’ shield and the figure-of-eight shield, both invented in Minoan Crete as it is demonstrated archaeologically.

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

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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.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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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).

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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).

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JASON’S ARGONAUTS (part II): a Historical and Geopolitical approach to the myth of the Argonautica

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argoA modern reconstruction of the Argo, the ship of the Argonauts or rather their flagship, by the Historical Association “Argonauts 2008”. Argo was an early Bronze Age penteconter.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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CONTINUED FROM PART I

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As it was mentioned, the Argonauts docked at first in Lemnos Island, where Jason had a love affair with the local queen Hypsipyle with whom he had two sons. This episode is sometimes interpreted as a Minyan colonization of Lemnos and the neighbouring and closely related island of Imbros. During the Trojan War, the people of the two islands were not sided with the Mycenaeans, at least from the beginning of the war, but that does not mean that they were not akin to them. The reason is that the mentioned islands were near the coasts of the Troad and Thrace (most of the Thracians were allies of the Trojans) and thereby they were obliged (or threatened) to join the Trojan alliance. It is also very plausible that the mercantile and geopolitical interests of the Lemnians and the Imbrians were identical to those of the Trojans. Other ancient literary sources inform us that after the destruction of Troy, Lemnos and Imbros were occupied by Pelasgians who actually were non-Greek Tyrsenians from Lydia, kinsmen of the Etruscans of Italy. It is obvious that the Pelasgi/Tyrsenians evicted the Minyan settlers from the two islands. In the Archaic period the latter became Greek again, when the Athenians occupied them evicting their Tyrrhenian/Tyrsenian inhabitants and colonizing them.
After Lemnos, the Argonauts anchored at the island of Samothrace very close to the Thracian coasts, then crossed the Hellespont and from there they faced adventures in the territories of the Doliones, the Bebryces and the city-principality of Salmydessos, which they lie on the south coasts of the Propontis (Sea of Marmara) with the probable exception of the latter. Next the Argonauts crossed the perilous strait of the Symplegades (probably the modern Bosphorus in Turkey) and thus managed to reach the Black Sea. There, they first docked in the land of the Mariandyni tribe at the north coast of Asia Minor. The aforementioned peoples of the south Propontis coasts were rather of proto-Phrygian and proto-Thracian stock who had already settled in Asia Minor, while the country of the Mariandyni can be identified with the one of the Palaites (the land Pa(ph)la, the subsequent Classical Paphlagonia) or even of the Gasga (Kaska) mentioned in the Hittite royal archives at Hattusas.

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JASON’S ARGONAUTS: a Historical and Geopolitical approach to the myth of the Argonautica (part I)

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Dendra2Dendra1

The Mycenaean Dendra armor (15th c. BC) belongs to the era in which the Argonaut campaign took place. On top of the armor there is a characteristic boar-tusk helmet which in this case is equipped with bronze cheek-protectors.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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TABLE: LIST of the ARGONAUTS and their origins

The first two columns of the table quote the legendary heroes of the Argonaut campaign and the city of origin of each one, according to the ancient literature. I composed and added the third column in order to present the peoples/tribes who were the bearers of the traditions or cults of the respective heroes (local deities or agathodemons) or the peoples/tribes inhabiting the listed cities. Hercules is usually referred as a Theban in the ancient texts, but he was a hero/deity of the Achaeans, as possibly was Hylas as well. For this reason I place the Cadmeian people to the city of Thebes, who surely were in control of her in the time of the Argonautica.
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ARGONAUT / REGION or CITY  / TRIBE(People)
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THESSALY
Jason / Iolkos /Minyans
Akastos / Iolkos / Minyans
Admetos / Pherae / Minyans
Peleus / Phthia / Achaeans
Aethalides / Alope / Achaeans
Eurytos / Alope / Achaeans
Echion / Alope / Achaeans
Eurydamas / Ktemene / Dolopes
Asterion / Peiresiae / Lapiths
Polyphemus / Larissa / Lapiths
Koronos / Gyrton / Lapiths
Iphiclos / Phylake / Minyans
Mopsus / Titaros / Lapiths
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THRACE
Orpheus / – / Thracians
Kalais / – / Thracians
Zetes / – / Thracians
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AETOLIA
Meleager / Kalydon / Aetolians (?)
Laokoon / Kalydon / Aetolians (?)
Iphiclos / Pleuron / Aetolians (?)
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