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Bronze Age Greek Warrior 1600–1100 BC Paperback – March 22, 2011
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About the Author
Raffaele D'Amato was awarded a degree in Romano-Byzantine Law in 1993 from the University of Turin. He has collaborated with magazines and specialist publications in the fields of ancient and medieval history. He has written a number of magazine articles and published two books on the Mycenean age and Dark Age warriors. He is currently working as an external researcher at the University of Athens on several projects on the arms and armour of the eastern Roman army.
Born in 1962, Andrea Salimbeti has had a life-long interest in ancient military history, in particular the Bronze Age in Greece and the Middle East. He served as a paratrooper in the Italian Army in Beirut and attended the Space Academy and flight training in USA. He now works for the space program, and is also author of various articles on aerospace technology and flight equipment.
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The above list comes alive in its entirety through the illustrator's creative reimagining in eight colour plates, some of which are partly based on rather primitive, stylized pictorial representations on kraters and seals.
"After the fall of the Cretan Thalassocracy around the 15th century BC, probably echoed in the legend of the mythical Achaean King of Athens Theseus and his war against the Cretan King Minos, the Achaeans began to build up their maritime power in the Aegean Sea...Achaean objects have been found even as far as Britain, and precious material such as electrum, which was used early in the Mediterranean and which has been found in the royal graves of Mycenae, has been also found in the Baltics" (p. 4).
As for the downside:
> I would have liked to read proportionately more about actual events during the half a millenium under discussion, and regarding the general background and warfare (naval clashes are covered to some length on pp. 48-51), not just what we are afforded on pages 4-11 and 47-58.
> While the central figures of the colour plates are depicted in more or less fine details (especially the warrors of plates B-C) and with expressive countenance, persons and objects on the periphery and those in the background, in addition to the landscape, are much less elaborate and sketchy enough, or even blurry in a hazy mist (p. 45). Or have a look at the gallopping lions in the distance on plate G (p. 55) - they are a tad laughable, imho. I'm not sure that even artistic perspective can justify this. Anyhow, D'Amato and Salimbeti's extolling Giuseppe Rava as "the true heir of Angus Mcbride" (see acknowledgements on p. 2) seems to me quite a bit of exaggeration.
> More than half of the authors mentioned in the main text are not listed in select bibliography (p. 61): Schachermeyr (p. 6), Nilsson (p. 8), Hoeckmann (p. 13), Graves (p. 17), Forrer (p. 58), Korfmann and Pernicka (ibid.)
> It would have been helpful to furnish non-specialist readers with a map to be able to locate the welter of sites, extending from the Greek Peninsula through the islands of Crete, Cyprus, Salamis, Kos (near Rhodes), to the Anatolian coast and as far south as Ugarit (Syria).
> Ambiguous/misunderstandable conclusion begging clarification: "The next reference to military activities with Ahhiyawa [elsewhere spelled 'Ahhijava': see p. 7; i.e., Achaea] comes from the time of the Hittite King Mursili II (c. 1310-c.1290). He [Mursili II] conquered the country of Arzawa [place or personal name?], which lay in the area of classical Lydia...Relying on Ahhiyawa's [Achaean] king, Arzawa engaged in hostilites against the Hittites and incited the land of Millawanda [Miletos] to rebel, but he [Arzawa as a personal name?; sentences structure does not indicate the Ahhiyawa king as the referent of personal pronoun 'he'] and its prince [that of Millawanda's] probably handed Ahhiyawa's king [?; Arzawa, instead] over to the Hittites" (p. 57).
In what little a quick search has yielded, there's no mention of any Achaean ruler ever being taken captive by the Hittites. Arzawa is a place name whose governor named Uhhazati in alliance with Achaeans, and later his grandson Piyamaradu, rebelled against Hittite authority. The so-called 'Tawagalawa Letter' demands the extradition of said grandson from the addressee, prince Eteocles. (Cf. Charles A. Burney - Historical Dictionary of the Hittites (Historical Dictionaries of Ancient Civilizations and Historical Eras) pp. 35, 201-2, 211-2, Scarecrow Press 2004).
Of course, a few centuries from the 17th to the 20th are documented well enough to have more than a glimpse, but when it is 14-16 B.E. it is very hard to follow the intricacies of progress that may ve taken place during those times, and the authors are making a good point of that.
As we look into the obscure distant past, there s very little clear. Questions like "where was Troy?", "who were the Acheans?", "did events described in the Iliad really take place?" are all valid. But it is common silliness to ascribe to the people, warriors of these far away times the look peculiar to the Classical Greek, as depicted on numerous vases, etc. - the Greeks of the Classical period were depicting themselves, just as the Star Wars' creators had their characters dressed in the bell-bottoms with the typical 70's hair dos. From this standpoint, the above book is a good effort to unveil the distant mystery. The illustrations are very good and bright, but what is really awesome is the authors' humbleness in saying "this is what we have come up with after the long research - now you give it a shot".
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The scope covered in this book was particularly ambitious and goes well beyond describing the various weapons used and pieces of equipment, although there is this also, and it is rather well done and well backed up with illustrations, photos and plates.
I particularly appreciated the pieces on the so characteristic shields (tower shields, figure of eight and proto-dipylon) and the types of swords, daggers and helmets. The way the later are represented, in particular, illustrates rather well the evolutions between helmet-types. The pieces on armour and the section on chariots were also good, although given the scope chosen by the authors, I was left wanting more, in particular in the latter case (there is, however, another Osprey volume covering Bronze Age War chariots).
What the authors seem to have tried to do, and largely succeeding in doing despite the odds against them, was not only to describe the "Bronze Age Greek Warrior" between 1600 and 1100 BC but also to give a feeling of the Mycenean warrior culture. So the book is not limited to "arms and armour" and military organization, contrary to the rather limited scope that some Osprey Men-at-Arms volumes still adopt. It also includes the various aspects of warfare - naval warfare, sieges, the daily life of warriors and campaigns.
There is, however, a price to pay for being so ambitious. The book simply cannot - and therefore does not - go into as much detail on each and every aspect that the authors wanted to cover. So yes, indeed, the book "could have been better". It could then, for instance, have included an outline of the main chronological events and perhaps even a few vignettes on specific events or on the various states and Achean (or Mycenean) warlords that dominated during various periods. It could also, as another reviewer suggested, have included more examples of their very aggressive warrior-culture, piratical raids and expeditions and attacks against almost everyone in the Eastern Mediterranean. It finally could also have included a section on the rather mysterious "Sea People", some of which seem to have Acheans, and perhaps also something on the so-called "Dorians".
To achieve this, however, the book should have had at least the size of an Osprey Campaign volume (another 32 pages - 50% more than its current size), if not double its current size and that was clearly NOT possible, although I am quite certain that the authors and the illustrator would probably have been as delighted as their readers if it had been possible.
Anyway, and whatever its limitations regarding the amount of content that is included, one the main merits of this book is certainly to make the reader want to learn more about this little-known period. At least, this is how it worked out for me, and this is where I was a bit disappointed.
The bibliography seems to include either relatively old titles, or very specialized ones, with the most recent publications being Osprey titles. For instance, while Trevor Bryce's "Hittite Warrior" is referenced, I was surprised not to find any reference book on the Hittites (for instance Trevor Bryce's two volumes) or on the Myceneans, or even more generally on the Aegean Bronze Age (to paraphrase the title of Oliver Dickinson's book on this topic). I was also surprised not to find "the End of the Bronze Age" (to paraphrase yet another book title) and the catastrophe of around BC 1200 at least listed in the bibliography, especially since this book's scope, and some of its illustrations, cover the period up to 110 BC. Another little glitch, which another reviewer may have already mentioned, has to do with editing. There are one or two references to authors in the text that accompanies some of the illustrations which are not mentioned elsewhere, not even in the bibliography
Having mentioned this, and partly because I want to finish this review on a very positive note - but mostly because it is richly deserved - I must also stress that the illustrations are rather superb. I was almost tempted to say "as usual", given the illustrator's works on a number of other Osprey titles. As usual also, each of the characters presented in the various plates is adapted from archaeological findings (for instance the Dendra armour worn by the Achean prince on page 59, or from figures depicted on vases.
Despite limitations due to size constraints and to a selective bibliography (but then, as another author once said, a whole book would be needed for a comprehensive bibliography on the Myceneans), this is a good and valuable Osprey title.
Un ritratto completo di come fossero equipaggiati realmente i greci della "guerra di Troia", molto diversi da come l'iconografia tradizionale abbia sempre dipinto gli eroi omerici. Grazie al testo, agli schemi di Salimbeti ed alle illustrazioni di Giuseppe Rava (una garanzia!) ci si può fare una idea convincente di come combattevano ed apparivano i vari Achille, Menelao, Agamennone.
Consigliato ai modellisti ed ai giocatori di wargame (come me) che vogliano comentarsi con qualcosa di inusuale