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THE GALLIC-CELTIC INVASION IN MACEDONIA & THRACE – CHANGES IN SOUTHERN GREEK TACTICS, Part II

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 hoplites

The battles against the Gauls were of the last to be fought by the hoplites. During the fifty years that followed, hoplite warfare was abandoned mainly due to the new socio-political conditions that prevailed in the Greek World. In the artwork: Hoplites of the Archaic era (artwork/copyright: Karl  Kopinski).

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By Periklis Deligiannis

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Continued from PART I

The hordes of Bolgios and Kerethrios were the vanguards of the Gauls because shortly after (279 BC) the main Gallic army appeared led by Brennos (Brennus) and Akichorios, which invaded Macedonia through the Axios Valley. The Senonian Gaul conqueror of Rome (387 BC) was also called Brennos, a ‘name’ which was probably the Celtic title for the king. Centuries later, the Welsh word brennin had the same meaning (king). Brennos was the supreme warlord of the Galatians while Akichorios, Bolgios and Kerethrios were probably his lieutenants (commanders). The Celts were marching with their families in wagons, evidence that they intended to settle in the area. They were strengthened by their vassal warriors: Illyrians, Dardanians, Thracians, fugitive slaves and others. The ancient sources quote that the third (and main) Gallic horde consisted of 150,000 infantry and 15,000 to 60,000 cavalry, figures generally dismissed as exaggerated. The number of infantry is almost common in all ancient writers and probably account for all combatants and non-combatants. If we remove from that number the non-combatants (about 3/4 of the ancient populations), then the warriors would be around 35 to 40,000 men. The real number of the cavalry cannon be estimated, but a figure of 10,000 is plausible. Each Gaul cavalryman (a noble with armor) was accompanied by two horsemen. This military unit of three riders was called “Trimarkesia” (from the Celtic word “mark” which meant among other things, the horse).

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THE GALLIC-CELTIC INVASION IN MACEDONIA & THRACE – CHANGES IN SOUTHERN GREEK TACTICS, Part I

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 By  Periklis DeligiannisCelts

The ancient peoples of the South-Central Balkans and the routes of the Gallic invasion in the region and in Asia Minor.

In 366 BC the metropolitan Greeks watched the Gauls in combat for the first time, and they were certainly impressed. It was then that Dionysius of Syracuse, who had many Celtiberian and Padanian Gallic mercenaries in his service, sent 2,000 of them to aid his overseas ally, Sparta. Thucydides describes the flexible tactics used by the Celtic horsemen against their Greek opponents. Theopompos of Chios mentions the conflicts between the Galatians (Gauls, in the Greek lang.) and the Illyrian tribes in an area located in the vicinity of the river Naro of Dalmatia. During the Archaic Period, the Glasinac culture  flourished in modern Bosnia; a culture that  later became the powerful tribal union of the Autariatae Illyrians. In 359 BC Bardylis, probably the king of the Autariatae, and his forces defeated the Macedonian army killing the king Perdiccas and 4,000 of his men, paving the way for Philip II to the Macedonian throne. Next year, Philip II avenged by crashing the Autariatae and killing 7,000 of them. However the worst for the Autariatae was the beginning of their war with the Danubian Gauls.

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BIRTH OF THE STORMERS OF ROME: ON THE GOTHIC ETHNOGENESIS AND MIGRATIONS

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 By  Periklis  Deligiannis

Scandinavians

These  Scandinavian  warriors  are  almost  identical  with  their  Gothic  relatives  because  of  their  unity  of  culture.  The  weaponry  of  the  Scandinavians/Vikings  was  in  fact  originated  from  the  arms  and  armor  of  their  Germanic  kinsmen  in  the  main  European  continent , especially  from  those  of  the  Eastern  Teutonic  tribes.

The  Goths  lived  and  fought  in  most  parts  of  the  European  continent.  From  the  dense  frosty  forests  of  Scandinavia  and  contemporary  Poland,  and  the  frigid  Baltic  Sea,  to  the  warm  civilized  countries  of  Greece,  Italy  and  the  Mediterranean,  and  from  the  vast  grasslands  of  Ukraine  and  the  Black  Sea  to  the  Iberian  Atlantic  coast,  their  martial  migration  course  is  a  truly  unparalleled  feat.  Their  Vandal  brothers  managed  to  colonize  North  Africa,  while  other  Gothic  branches  settled  in  Britain (Jutes) and  Asia  Minor.  The  History  of  the  Goths  is  one  of  the  most  exciting  in  general  World  History,  while  their  admirable  martial  art  brought  the  Dawn  of  Chivalry  in  Europe.

The  modern  theories  on  the  ethnogenesis  of  the  Goths  are  divided.  The  best  known  view (supported  mainly  by  modern  Teutonic  historians  and  scholars)  considers  them  of  pure  Germanic  origins,  originating  from  Gotland  (“Land  of  the  Goths“),  i.e. modern  South-Central  Sweden  and  the  adjacent  long  island  of  the  same  name.  This  view  is  supported  by  a  number  of  medieval  sources.  However,  there  is  also  the  theory  (supported  mainly  by  modern  Slav  historians  and  scholars)  that  the  Goths  and  the  Vandals  were  indigenous  non-Germanic  peoples  of  modern  Poland,  who  adopted  their  Germanic  language  from  a  Teutonic  ethnic  element  sparsely  settled  in  their  area.

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THE BYZANTINE (EASTERN ROMAN) RHOMPHAIA

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 By  Periklis  Deligiannis

Byzantine Kosovo

Modern researchers of medieval military history often wonder what was the nature of the Byzantine weapon called ‘rhomphaia’? The rhomphaia (or rhomphaea) of Antiquity was a weapon of the Thracians, which consisted of a long straight or slightly curved sickle-shaped blade mounted on a long wooden shaft. If the rhomphaia was sickle-shaped, the cutting edge was located on the inner (concave) side of the blade. Specifically the curved rhomphaia belonged to the group of spears and swords with scythe blade which included the kopis, the machaira, the falcata, the falx and others which were used by various peoples of the ancient Mediterranean that is to say the Iberians, Celtiberians, Greeks, Thracians, Etruscans, Lycians, Carians, Lydians, Phrygians, Dacians and others. Their original source is unknown and sometimes the researchers try to locate it. Our opinion is that they are products of polygenesis.
The ancient Greeks and then the Romans were using units of Thracian rhomphaioforoi (rhomphaia-bearers) allies and mercenaries, but they themselves never adopted this weapon. But until the Byzantine period, the Thracians were ethnologically absorbed to the Roman and then to the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) ethnic environment by becoming Latin-speaking north of the Balkan Ridge and Greek-speaking south of it, loosing their own ethnic identity. Thus the rhomphaioforoi combatants were ethnically incorporated to the Romans and the Greeks through Latinization and Hellenization respectively. During the Byzantine Period, the word rhomphaia appears in the Byzantine military terminology posing the aforementioned question.

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