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ΤΗΕ GELOAN WAR MACHINE (ANCIENT SICILY) – PART II

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phalanx

cavalryThe hoplite phalanx (vase-painting above) and the cavalry of the Archaic type (artwork below, by Giussepe Rava) were the two main army formations of the Siciliot and Italiot Greeks including the Geloans.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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CONTINUED FROM PART I
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Gela completed her hegemonic march when eventually Gelon, her greatest son, made Syracuse his capital. Henceforth, Acragas substituted Gela as the second most powerful city-state of Sicily, a great rival for Syracuse.
Many readers accustomed to the History of World War II, must have known Gela, because her site was one of the main landing areas of the Allied assault on Sicily on the 10th of July 1943.
After this historical introduction, I am going to deal in greater detail with ancient Gela’s armed forces.
The main military disadvantage of Gela was the lack of natural harbours in her core territory. Because of this geophysical situation, the Geloans never had a navy of some account. When the Geloan tyrants formed the ‘Geloan Empire’, they exploited the ports and the warships of the subject naval city-states to establish a navy.
The limited occupation of the Geloans with shipping and the fertile plain around their city turned them into an agricultural and ranching life. Moreover the ancestors of most settlers, although all of them islanders, were more attached to the land occupations than to sea life: these were the Cretans, the Coans and the colonists from the city-states Hialysos and Kamiros of Rhodes; the Lindians were actually the exception to this ‘general rule’.

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ΤΗΕ GELOAN WAR MACHINE (ANCIENT SICILY) – PART I

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1The  anthropomorphic  bull  in  a  coin  of  Gela  (480-470  BC),  apparently  a  popular  emblem  on  the  shields  of  the  Geloans.

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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The city of Gela  was  founded  in  688  BC  on  the  south  coast  of  Sicily,  near  the  river  Gelas,  by Cretan,  Rhodian  and  other  Dodecanese  Dorian  settlers.  This  new  Greek colony  was  originally  named  “the Lindians”  from  the  “ethnic name”  of  Lindos,  the  most  important  city-state  of  Rhodes.  Lindos  had  significantly  higher  shipping  than  any  other  city-state  of Rhodes,  Crete  and  the Dodecanese,  and  apparently  supported  the  colonial  mission  with  her  navy.  However,  because  most  of  the  colonists  had  not  Lindian  origin,  the  name  “Gela”  finally  prevailed originating  from  the  indigenous Sicanian  name  of  the  nearby  river  (the Gelas River).

From  the  beginning  the  Geloans  (the citizens  of Gela)  had  a  high level of militancy,  seeking  the expansion  of  their  territory  in  the  Sicilian  mainland,  at  the  expense  of  the  natives  of  Sicily  and  other  Greek  colonists.  The  natives  were  the  Sicani  (Sicans),  the  Elymians  (probably  a  Sicani  tribal  offshoot)  and  the  Siculi  or  Sikels  (actually  of  Italian  mainland  origins).  The  first  phase  of  the  impressive  conquests  of Gela,  belongs  to  the  wars  against  the  neighboring  Sicani.  The  Sican  townships  of  Kakyron,  Omphake  (now  Monte  Desusino),  Ariaiton  (or  Ariaitis),  Inykon  and  others,  succumbed  to  the  army  of  Gela,  despite  their  resistance.  The strong  resistance  of  the  Sicani  is  demonstrated  by  the  fact  that  the  Geloans  spent  nearly  two  centuries  until  the  subjugation  of  the  last  independent  Sicani of their territory.  The  Greeks  had  a  decisive  military  advantage  against  the  natives,  thanks  to  their  hoplite  phalanx and their cavalry.

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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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DIONYSIUS OF PHOCAEA: Ancient Greek admiral and corsair

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Phocaea.

Ancient_theatre_Focaea

Map above: The location of Phocaea οn the Aegean coast of Asia Minor between the Aeolian Kyme and the Ionic Smyrna.
Below: The Hellenistic theater of Phocaea.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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In 494/493 BC a small but formidable Anatolian Greek naval force appeared in the sea around Sicily, causing serious problems to the Carthaginians and the Etruscans. A few months earlier, the Ionic Revolt of the Greeks of Asia Minor against the Persian rule was reaching its end. This revolt was called Ionic because the Ionians were the most numerous among the Greek revolutionary forces but they were supported as well by many Aeolians and some non-Greek Lydians and Carians. The outcome of the war was decided in the naval battle of Lade Islet.
Dionysius of Phocaea was the commander-in-chief of the Greek fleet, being the ablest Ionian admiral. Phocaea was a Greek city-state on the linguistic-dialectic border between the Ionian and the Aeolian Greeks of Asia Minor, on the Aegean coast between the Aeolian Kyme and the Ionic Smyrna. The city was Ionic (with an Aeolian minority) and small comparing to the mentioned neighbouring large cities, but it was a great naval power with many colonies around the Mediterranean, especially in the western part of it. Marseille (anc. Massalia), Monaco (anc. Monoecos Herakles’ Limen), Sain Tropez (anc.  Athenopolis), Avignon (Auenion), Arles (Theline), Nice (Nikaia), Alicante (Akra Leuke), probably Barcelona (Greek Kallipolis, later conquered by the Barcid Carthaginians and renamed to Barcinon) and finally Velia (Elea or Hyele, home of the Eleatic philosophers) are some renowned  modern French, Spanish and Italian cities founded by Phocaean colonists.

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A SMALL SPARTA FAR AWAY FROM GREECE: THE LIPARIAN ISLES

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By  Periklis Deligiannis

 

Aristonothos

Aristonothos vase 700-650 BC

The renowned “Aristonothos vase” (about 700-650 BC) manufactured in Magna Graecia by Aristonothos and discovered in Caere of Etruria (Etruscan Caisra). Its vase-painting of a naval battle (image below) provides us with a very good representation of the ships used by the Greek and the Etruscan sea-fighters (almost identical), and of naval warfare during the acme of the Aeolidae Islands (Archaic period).


The Aeolidae (Aeolian) or Liparae (Liparian) Isles is a cluster of small islands in Sicily,  northwest of the Straits of Messina. In this article I will deal with an unknown aspect of their history which is related with a very interesting episode of the ancient Greek colonization.
In Sicily, around 580 BC, the Selinuntian Greek colonists finally resigned from claiming disputed lands from their Geloan brethren (in which lands, Acragas was founded) in exchange for aid by Dorian settlers coming from Rhodes and the Anatolian Greek colony Cnidos (Knidos), who arrived in western Sicily through Gela. Pentathlos, the leader of the Rhodian and Cnidian colonists, was a Cnidian like most of his men.
The Selinuntians used the Cnidian and Rhodian reinforcements in their ongoing war against the Elymians and the Phoenicians. They helped them to establish a new Greek colony at Cape Lilybaion (Latin Lilybaeum), just 10 kilometers south of Motya. They were trying to establish a new Doric power against Motya (the main Punic colony on the island) and Carthage, while they would deal with the subjugation of the Elymian Segesta which resisted stubbornly their expansion. The Selinuntians, Cnidians and Rhodians joined forces against the Elymi, Sicilian-Phoenicians and Carthaginians.
Diodorus Siculus states that the main battle between the two blocs took place near Lilybaeum, obviously in the hinterland between Selinus (Selinunte) and Segesta. Pentathlos was killed; the Greeks were defeated (580/576 BC) and immediately after, the Elymi and the Carthaginians attacked Lilybaion and drove off from there the Cnidians and Rhodians.

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THE SELINUNTIAN WARS of the 6th cent.BC.

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By  Periklis Deligiannis

segestaA pure Greek-type temple in Segesta (main temple of the city).


CONTINUED FROM   THE PHOENICIAN-GREEK STRUGGLE IN SICILY &THE FOUNDING OF SELINUS (7th-6th c. BC.)

In 580 BC the Selinuntians finally resigned from claiming the disputed land from Gela (in which land, Acragas was founded) in exchange for aid by Dorian settlers coming from Rhodes and the Anatolian Greek colony Cnidos (Knidos), who arrived in western Sicily through Gela. Pentathlos, the leader of the Rhodian and Cnidian colonists, was a Cnidian like most of his men.

Athena Promachos1

A beautiful reenactment of Archaic Greek hoplites by the Spanish Historical Association Athena Promakhos (copyright: Anna Belen Rubio). Note the double crest of two snakes facing each other on the Corinthian helmet of the hoplite on front, and his arm-protector with the sculpted emblem of  Gorgo (gorgonion). The same gorgonion emblem  is depicted in his Argive shield.  The two snakes facing each other are sculpted in his bell-type cuirass as well.  In the Orient, the hoplites were known as brazen (bronze) warriors.  The Siciliot and Italiot Greek warriors did not differ from those of mainland Greece.

The Selinuntians used the Cnidian and Rhodian reinforcements in their ongoing war against the Elymians and the Phoenicians. They helped them to establish a new Greek colony at Cape Lilybaion (Latin Lilybaeum), just 10 kilometers south of Motya. They were trying to establish a new Doric power against Motya (the main Punic colony on the island) and Carthage, while they would deal with the subjugation of Segesta which resisted stubbornly their expansion. The Selinuntians, Cnidians and Rhodians joined forces against the Elymi, Sicilian-Phoenicians and Carthaginians.

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THE PHOENICIAN-GREEK STRUGGLE IN SICILY &THE FOUNDING OF SELINUS (7th-6th c. BC.)

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By Periklis Deligiannis

Selinunte

Aerial view of the archaeological site of Selinus (Selinunte).

During the period when the ancient Greeks were colonizing the eastern coast of Sicily (late 8th century BC), the Phoenicians kept their own emporia (commercial stations) in the western part of the island. It seems that Panormos (modern Sicilian capital Palermo) was the oldest Phoenician colony. Motya was founded around 700 BC by the Phoenicians of Carthage. Her location was very strategic and well protected, having been founded on an island near the Sicilian coast. Simultaneously, the Carthaginians founded the emporia  of Mazara and Macara on the southwestern coast, whose Phoenician origin has been verified by their Canaanite names and by archeology. Macara was probably founded on the site of a former Minoan ‘emporion’ or naval base, because the Greeks called the town ‘Minoa’ and later ‘Heraclea Minoa’ (or just ‘Heraclea’). Some archaeologists have theorized that the subsequent town of Thermae Himeraiae, which was founded by the Carthaginians after the destruction of the nearby Greek city Himera (late 5th century BC), was in reality a Phoenician colony that existed before the foundation of the latter. According to this hypothesis, when the Greeks founded Himera, they drove off the Phoenicians from Thermae but when the Carthaginians destroyed Himera, they refounded the old Punic colony.

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