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Tessarakonteres, “Super-carrier” of Antiquity

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40eres

A tessarakonteres (40reme) according to L. Casson’s theory, that is two eikoseres (20remes) stably bound by a common deck.  

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By Periklis Deligiannis

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The Early Successors of Alexander gave a boost in the use and the development of the polyeres-type warships (multimeremes), using them widely in their wars (321 BC – early 3rd century BC). The Successors have built fleets comprised of numerous large warships, reaching the building of colossal vessels such as the ‘eikoseres’ (20reme, with twenty oarsmen on each vertical group of oars) and the enormous ‘tessarakonteres’ (40reme, with forty oarsmen on each vertical group of oars). These warships resembled to floating fortresses, very similar in size to the modern large battleships and aircraft carriers. The tessarakonteres had a crew of 6.000 men (officers, oarsmen, sailors, marines and others), as many as a modern aircraft carrier.

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Τεσσαρακοντήρης, το «αεροπλανοφόρο» της Αρχαιότητας

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40eres

Απεικόνιση μιας τεσσαρακοντήρους κατά την άποψη του L. Casson.

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Π. Δεληγιάννης

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Οι Διάδοχοι και οι Επίγονοι τους, ναυπήγησαν στόλους αποτελούμενους από πολυάριθμες πολυήρεις, φτάνοντας μέχρι την κατασκευή κολοσσιαίων σκαφών όπως η εικοσήρης και η τεσσαρακοντήρης. Όπως θα δούμε, επρόκειτο για πραγματικά πλωτά φρούρια που θύμιζαν αναλογικά τα σύγχρονα θωρηκτά και αεροπλανοφόρα πλοία. Ειδικά η τεσσαρακοντήρης έφερε συνολικό πλήρωμα το οποίο έφθανε τους 6.000 άνδρες, περίπου όσους διαθέτει ένα σύγχρονο αεροπλανοφόρο.

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Two significant representations of ancient Greek vase-paintings and frescoes on military topics

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The sea-battle scene from the Aristonothos Vase on the left (of the reader) and on the right the “Battle in the River” fresco, along with the modern representations by Angel G. Pinto (image credit: Angel G. Pinto)

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By Periklis Deligiannis

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In this article, I would like to note two significant representations of ancient Greek paintings by one of my favourite artists on military topics, namely Angel G. Pinto. The image of the two representations came from his website (angelgpinto.blogspot.gr).

I was interested (rather lured) in the ad hoc themes that he chose for these two artistic representations, that is to say the “Battle in the River” – a Mycenaean fresco of the 13th century BC from the palace of Pylos – and the sea-battle scene from the “Aristonothos vase” of the Archaic Era (about 700-650 BC).

I will start from the chronologically earlier fresco, the “Battle in the River”. This artwork was found in the palace of Pylos, the administrative center of a Mycenaean state in the south-west Peloponnesus. It was one of the most potent states of the Mycenaean ‘Commonwealth’ and probably the best organized. Pylos was a power counterbalance to the state of Mycenae, although it seems to have been usually its ally.

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Replica of Vasa bronze cannon shot

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Republication from  thehistoryblog.com

https://i2.wp.com/www.thehistoryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/The_Vasa_ship_-02-.jpg

In late 2012, the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, home of the beautiful but unstable flagship of the Swedish fleet that sank a mile from the shore on its maiden voyage in 1628, put together a team to recreate one of the ship’s 24-pounder bronze cannons. Although Vasa went down in ignominy before it had a chance to make a name for itself, the light cannon that became known as the Vasa gun would be adopted all branches of the Swedish military as the standard artillery piece during the Thirty Years’ War. Sweden was the world’s largest exporter of cannon in the 17th century, and other European countries developed their own versions of the Vasa gun, so learning more about this particular weapon illuminates a far broader stage than just the ship or Swedish naval warfare.

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The Weapon That Changed History

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Republication from the Archaeology Magazine

 

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Roman legionaries board on a Carthaginian warship during the First Punic War. Artwork by Peter Connolly.

by Andrew Curry

Evidence of Rome’s decisive victory over Carthage is discovered in the waters off Sicily

In his work The Histories, the second-century B.C. Greek historian Polybius chronicles the rise of the Romans as they battled for control of the Mediterranean. The central struggle pits the Romans against their archenemies the Carthaginians, a trading superpower based in North Africa. For 23 years, beginning in 264 B.C., the two rivals fought what became known as the First Punic War.

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Bronze warship ram reveals secrets

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Republication from National Oceanographic Center

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Analysis of a bronze battering ram from a 2,000 year-old warship sheds light on how such an object would have been made in ancient times.

Known as the Belgammel Ram, the 20kg artefact was discovered by a group of British divers off the coast of Libya near Tobruk in 1964. The ram is from a small Greek or Roman warship – a “tesseraria”. These ships were equipped with massive bronze rams on the bow at the waterline and were used for ramming the side timbers of enemy ships. At 65cm long, the Belgammel Ram is smaller in size and would have been sited on the upper level on the bow. This second ram is known as a proembolion, which strengthened the bow and also served to break the oars of an enemy ship.

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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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THE SPANISH ARMADA CONQUERS ENGLAND (1588) (Part ΙI): AN HISTORICAL SCENARIO

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portuguese galleonA Portuguese galleon.
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mapA map of the subjection of England by the Spanish and their allies (Welsh and Irish) according to my scenario. The arrows denote their operations for the capture of London, Bristol and other cities.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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CONTINUED FROM PART I
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The next day Santa Cruz sent message to the Duke of Parma who was waiting with his army in Dunkirk and the neighboring ports, to be ready for the departure of his shallow landing crafts for the English coasts (Note).
Most of the English naval squadron of Dover which by then was guarding Parma’s landing fleet, had to join Howard’s main fleet during his desperate attempt to protect Portsmouth. The English reckoned that the Dutch navy allied to them, was guarding Parma’s fleet but they were mistaken. The Hollanders never really trusted their unnatural friendship with the English, although Elizabeth’s defeat would probably mean also their own subjection to Spain. They were furious by the fact that the Queen was still negotiating with the Duke of Parma on a peace treaty, ignoring their own war against him. They feared that Elizabeth and the Duke had moved much closer to a peace treaty which would leave the Spaniards undisturbed to subdue the Netherlands.
The Duke of Parma had contributed to their confusion by spreading misleading information that his landing fleet would not be heading to England but to the coasts of Holland. After that, the Dutch did not hesitate to keep their warships moored in their ports in order to protect themselves from the threat of Parma’s landing army.

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ENGLAND COLLAPSING

The bad weather delayed the military operations for two days. Santa Cruz was urgent to operate because the English were rapidly concentrating land forces in neighboring Southampton to recapture Portsmouth. After the improvement of the weather, the Armada ships covered the maritime area from Portsmouth to Dunkirk in order to protect Parma’s shallow landing crafts. The English navy attacked for the ultimate deterrence effort. The Englishmen fought furiously unleashing a barrage of shells and thus managed to destroy many galleons of Santa Cruz and sink some of the vessels of the Duke of Parma. But they were finally fought off with heavy losses, by the Spanish who kept unbreakable their “wooden wall” that had set up in the Channel waters. Captain Hawkins, a renowned Sea Dog, was among the casualties, lost together with his galleon.
At the same time, the attacks of the English Army under Leicester (from Southampton) against the Spanish garrison of Portsmouth, had no success because Santa Cruz’s marines and mercenaries who were guarding the city, were experienced soldiers and protected by strong fortifications reinforced by the rapid work of Italian and Spanish engineers. In the final attack, Leicester’s English and a few mercenary troops came very close to recapture the city killing many Spaniards, but they were finally pushed back. Thereby in two days, half of the total soldiers of the Duke of Parma were in Portsmouth, in the English coast ready for the land invasion. Soon the nearly unprotected ports of Brighton and Dover fell into Parma’s troops.

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THE SPANISH ARMADA CONQUERS ENGLAND (1588): AN HISTORICAL SCENARIO- Part Ι

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armada1

A Renaissance image of the Spanish Armada confronting English ships.

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Neptune Spanish galleonA modern reconstruction of a Spanish galleon (constructed for the movie ‘Pirates’).

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By Periklis Deligiannis

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This is an historical scenario that I have written about what would have happened if in 1588 the Armada of Spain had defeated the English fleet and the Spanish had conquered England. The scenario extends to the critical impact of such a march of events to the history of Europe and the World. Although it is written in the form of an “historical narrative” (because I was asked to write it in that form for a journal) it is based on actual and – I hope – cogent historical arguments which I mention in the text.

I did not take into account some random factors which in real history favored the English, while in the present scenario I supposed that they did not, for example the weather conditions which actually favored them much (in fact the Armada was defeated by the weather and not by Lord Howard’s fleet). First I quote an introduction comprising the actual historical events until the departure of the Armada. Next follows the scenario, being an estimate of mine on how the events would have evolved if the Spanish were victorious.

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HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

During the 16th century the Reformation of the Protestants against the arbitrariness of the Papacy and the Inquisition has divided the Western Christian world. Around 1587, the supporters of Catholicism had rallied around the Habsburgs whose dynasties possessed two of the three most powerful European thrones, the ones of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire of the Germans. In addition, the Spanish throne had inherited large areas of Europe (Portugal, Flanders, half of Italy, and others) while other European regions (eg some Italian states) were its protectorates.

The third most powerful European kingdom, France, was under the control of the Catholic League. The French King Henry III was essentially a ‘hostage’ of the leader of the League, the Duke of Guise who in his turn was manipulated mostly by the Spanish king. The stubborn French Protestants (the Huguenots) despite the carnage of the night of St. Bartholomew at their expense, were still numbering almost 1,000,000 causing instability in France and giving the opportunity to the Catholic League to substitute the royal power. Spain had additionally annexed the extensive network of the Portuguese colonies. The Spanish Empire controlled the most productive parts of the Americas and the numerous Spanish and Portuguese colonial settlements and posts around the world. The abundant American gold which was transported by the Spanish convoys in Madrid’s royal treasuries, ensured the supremacy of the kingdom over any other in Europe.

According to several scholars, the Spanish Empire was the most powerful in the planet, more powerful than the empires of the Ottomans, the Mughals (“Mongols”, in fact Turks) of India or the Ming of China. On the other hand, Protestantism had officially prevailed in England, Scotland, and the Scandinavian, northern German and Baltic countries. However, a large proportion of the population of the English kingdom remained Catholic because all Irishmen and a significant proportion of the Englishmen and Welshmen remained faithful to the papal church.

The Protestant doctrine of Calvin had prevailed in Scotland, however the majority of the Scottish Highlanders and a significant proportion of the Lowlanders remained Catholic. The Germanic Protestants of the Netherlands (ancestors of the Dutch) used to revolt from time to time against the Spanish domination. Their struggle for ethno-religious freedom, in combination with other factors, led to their gradual differentiation from the rest of the Germans. Thus during the 16th-17th centuries arose the Dutch nation.

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ON SOME POSSIBLE ‘SEA PEOPLES’ SETTLEMENTS IN SICILY, SARDINIA AND CORSICA (Bronze Age)

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Sea PeoplesΑ map in Polish, of the migrations of the Sea Peoples (Ludy Morza in Polish) in which the possible settlements of some of them on mainland Italy and the neighboring islands are noted. I do not consider possible at least the settlement of the Shekelesh in Sicily. If they were the proto-Sicels their settlement would have been in Calabria.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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Many scholars believe that some groups of the ‘Sea Peoples’ of the Bronze Age mainly after their final defeat by the Egyptians, sailed to the western Mediterranean. Their numbers are unknown and cannot be calculated, but it appears to have been small. Although the presence of groups of Sea Peoples in various parts of peninsular Italy and the neighboring large islands seems to have been archaeologically detected, today there are many disagreements among the scholars on the influence that these groups had on the ethnogenesis of later historical peoples of those regions. In this article and the next one for the peninsular Italy that will follow, I will give a very brief overview of the modern theories concerning this influence: theories that however remain controversial. A much more extensive analysis of the same topic will appear in a series of texts of mine in the future, unfortunately not in my website (but only in print). I will not deal with the most known views on the possible settlements of the Sea Peoples in Italy but mostly with some less known.
The present first article of this broader topic is dealing with the presence of the Sea Peoples in Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, while the second which will follow refers to their possible presence in mainland Italy. The names of the Sea Peoples in these two articles are noted as they were read in the Egyptian records, followed by their modern verbal performance with vowels.
It has been speculated that the Sikels, the Sardi and the Corsi who in historical times lived in Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica respectively, were associated with at least two of the Sea Peoples, that is the Shklsh (Shekelesh or Shakalasha) and the Shrdn (Sherden or Shardana). These hypothetical settlements are archaeologically supported mainly in the case of Sardinia and Corsica, through the Nuragic culture (Sardinia) and the Torre culture (Corsica) which demonstrate obvious influence from maritime peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean. It seems that the Shrdn who supposedly settled in Sardinia, colonized as well Corsica (Cyrnos in ancient Greek) forming there the Corsi people (or Cyrnii). This may be also indicated by the earlier presence of a Corsi proper tribe on the northern corner of Sardinia.

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