The British Museum’s first blockbuster exhibition in their new temporary exhibition gallery received plenty of publicity, mostly about the arrival of the longest Viking longship ever discovered – or at least, the 20% of its wooden frame that survives, plus a reconstruction of the rest – from Denmark. A new gallery, a giant longship, and Vikings! How could a group of Classicists resist…?
I was attending an event at the Royal College of Physicians of London in early March 2016, and I had a plenty of time to spare. One of my targets was, of course, the British Museum. Two years ago, Jan van der Crabben (founder and CEO of the Ancient History Encyclopedia) asked me to draft a blog article about the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, but I lacked detailed and high-quality images of all aspects of the obelisk. Nowadays, I’m equipped with a Nikon D750 full-frame camera and incredible lenses. So let’s spend some time looking at the obelisk and enjoy its wonderful artistic scenes.
The obelisk lies at the heart of Room 6 of the Ground Floor. The overall surrounding lighting is unfortunately scarce, but who cares, my camera can overcome this very easily! Remember, no “flash” photography is allowed.
I fondly remember the first release of Medieval 2: Total War with its grand campaign leading the iron-fisted Holy Roman Empire, crushing the fortified Italian Nation-states of Milan and Venice whilst keeping the might of France, Denmark and Poland at bay. Few games have come close in scale and excitement to witnessing an army of Imperial Knights charging down a wavering foe. Nine years later, a plethora of patches, an expansion and a number of outstanding fan-made mods and conversions, the game manages to still capture my imagination. Released in 2006, Medieval 2 built on the success and game engine of Rome: Total War, but through the years it has continued to hold up as a solid and entertaining game in its own right.
This post is part of a series of image posts Ancient History et cetera will be putting together each month. Today’s post concerns ancient warriors!
Ancient warfare was vastly different from how it is conducted today; the vanquished could be certain that slavery or execution awaited them. Initially, ancient armies were made up of infantry units who would engage enemy forces on the field with spears, shields, some form of body armour and a helmet. In time, armies developed to include shock troops, peltasts and include strategies like the formation known as the phalanx.
The hoplite is the Greek solider most are familiar with. His complete suit of armour was a long spear, short sword, and circular bronze shield; he was further protected, if he could afford it, by a bronze helmet, bronze breastplate, greaves for the legs and finally, ankle guards.
The Aztecs engaged in warfare (yaoyotl) to acquire territory, resources, quash rebellions, and to collect sacrificial victims to honour their gods. Warfare was a fundamental part of Aztec culture and all males were expected to participate. Eagle knights were a special class of infantry soldier in the Aztec army and one of the two leading military orders in their society.
The Assyrian war machine was one of the most efficient military forces in the ancient world. The secret to its success was a professionally trained standing army, use of iron weapons, advanced engineering skills and most importantly a complete ruthlessness, which proclaimed the power of ancient Assyria across the Near East.
The Roman army was usually commanded by a consul. Roman commanders generally preferred an aggressive and full-frontal attack, and they had many strategies to break enemy lines such as the tortoise, the wedge, skirmishing formation, repel cavalry and the orb.
Aztec Eagle Warrior
Today we have another contribution from Time Travels Magazine in which Ben Churcher writes about the remains that can be found of the Persian wars in Greece.
The road from the Plain of Marathon to downtown Athens is, as we all know, around 40 km due to the length of the modern marathon that supposedly commemorates a run undertaken in 490 BCE to announce to the Athenians that they had defeated the Persians. First, to put one thing straight, the runner was not, as the eminent scholar tells me, made by a Greek soldier Pheidippides. Pheidippides was not a soldier but a professional long-distance runner who, a few days before the Battle of Marathon, made a run from Athens to Sparta where he reached Sparta the day after he left Athens. Secondly, common belief has it that when the runner reached Athens to announce the victory that he collapsed and died after delivering his message. Again this is wrong.
The urge to find a single explanation as the cause for such calamitous events seems to come from a modern human need for an easy explanation as often as possible.
The decline of the Late Bronze Age civilizations of the Mediterranean and Near East has puzzled historians and archaeologists for centuries. While many have ascribed the collapse of several civilizations to the enigmatic Sea Peoples, Professor Eric H. Cline, former Chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at George Washington University, presents a more complicated and nuanced scenario in his new book, 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed.
Professor Eric H. Cline speaks to Ancient History Encyclopedia’s James Blake Wiener about his new title and the circumstances that lead to the collapse of the cosmopolitan world of the Late Bronze Age in this interview.
The assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar on March 15, 44 BCE is one of the most dramatic and notorious events in Roman history. Many of us living in Anglophone nations are familiar with the events of Caesar’s demise thanks in large part to William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar. However, Shakespeare dramatized only a few vignettes of a story written in cold blood. In The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination, by acclaimed military historian Barry Strauss, the reader learns how disaffected politicians and officers carefully planned and hatched Caesar’s assassination weeks in advance, rallying support from the common people of Rome. One is also introduced to fascinating character of the man who truly betrayed Caesar — the wealthy and intelligent Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus. In this exclusive interview to commemorate the Ides of March, James Blake Wiener, Communications Director at Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE), speaks with Dr. Barry Strauss about his new title and why he chose to revisit the world of late Republican Rome.
Canada’s Globe and Mail recently published a review of an unusual book entitled, “Hannibal and Me,” by Andreas Kluth (a journalist for The Economist). Narrating the history of Hannibal’s exploits vis-a-vis the struggles and triumphs of other talented individuals like Steve Jobs, Da Vinci, and Einstein, Kluth ponders the meaning of success across time and space. The end result is thought-provoking and enjoyable reading. To learn more, please click here for the review.