July 14, 2017 | Author: Konstantinos Piperas | Category: Mycenaean Greece, Weaponry, Unrest, Armed Conflict
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Download OSPREY - ELITE 130 - THE MYCENAEANS C.1650–1100 BC...




• Emerge nce of Mycena e • M ycen aean dominance • The evidenc e: I lo m e r , a nd the ar chaeolo gica l reco rd

THE EVOUTION OF THE MYCENAEAN ARMY NICOLAS GRGURlC is an Austr.. l..... gradua te archaeolo9ist who wrote h is Honours thesis on the Myce.... ean a r my. He


w riting .. doctoral the si s on c ivi lian use of d eteonsive architectu .... In frontier Aust r a l ia. Hts oth er interests in clud e w arga mi ng, l iv in g hi story a nd coll ect ing black powde r f ireM",S. He l ive s in So uth Au stn. li ll .

• Xeoli thic and Early Bro nze Age • E.arl)' ~ I)'cenaea n armies: he avy in fan try. ligh t in fa ntry a nd chario ts • Respo nse to new challenges fro m c.1300 BC - fo rufica ucn , a mi di spc-rsed de ployme nt • The destr uct io n o f the palace-states


hi st oril ill :>il1e rhe chadel 's ~d h;~ S";: ll ic JllW$ both the t ower a nd fJgu nHIf-eight shields., t he

way they _re worn by means of • re'amon, and l he way the spear

was wl ekted, It a lso 5hows an archei' woriJng in conju nction with the heavy in fant ry. lGeorge My401\llS, Mycenae a nd the ~ Ag&, C 1966

Pri ne e t on U~ity Preoss;

It is also conceivable th a t th e series o f h oles p r ese n ted in th e shield wall m ight have accom modated the 5pear, but th is seems unlikel y fo r two related re aso ns. Firstly, th e depictions d o not sh ow th e spea r bein g used this way; th ey sho w it bein g wielded wi th both hands, normally at sho u ld er level a n d wi th the sh ield worn around th e back. Secondly. th e spears used by th ese troops would have been both heavy and u nwie ldy for th e war rio r to g rip in hi s right hand a lon e, as he would bnve to if h e were ming it to thrust th ro ugh the sh ie ld cu t-out; and if h e held it near its central point of balance he would both waste half of iLS le n gth , an d d isru p t th e ran ks beh ind hi m , A que sti o n re mains as to h ow th e figure-of-eight shi e ld wa s distributed amo ngs t th e heavy infan try, It appears to haw been used at th e sa me tim e as th e to we r sh ield, but it is u nclear whether it was reser'ved for ~parate u nits. or mi xed in wi th tower shi elds to give the formatio n a 'b iting e d ge ' . Perhaps perso n al p referen ce o r wealth car-n o t be ruled out,

"pri"'ed by



Prin c e t on Univer.lity Press)

Boar's-I\lsk I>e"meL Th e p+e d o n e fu l. Agincoun (I-U.:'» p rovides an even more sim ilar paralle l. when the lightly armed , largely unannoured En g-lish archers closed with vc rJ h eavily armoured di sm ounted Fr e n ch l.n ig-h ts. and e xp loited th eir far gre ater agility to kill them in large numbers with suc h \,;ea pons ,IS dagge rs and hatchets. On th e other hand , if a h eavily equipped wa rrior is placed sh o ulder-to-s ho ulde r with seve ra l hundred like -a rmed co m ra d es a vel)· differe n t picture e merges. The large re ctangular and figure-of-eight shields h eld n ext to each other or even ove rlapping would p rese n t a n a rmoure d wall cove ri ng th e wh ole ba ttle line fro m ne ck to a n kle . T h is would not on ly rend e r th e fro n t ra nks a lmo st invu ln e ra b le to missile s, but would pre'i·e nt many missi les fro m pas sin g into rhe lea! ranks, whi ch Mlld lll: J shiek b, could I IO L tlo w effe ctive ly, 1he size o f th e sh iel ds may th us su ggest a co ns iderable mi ssile e xch an ge befo re co n tac t. In suc h a m assed fo rmatio n. severa l ran ks dee p, the c.12ft spear is far h o rn be in g im p racticall y lo n g , bu t is a per fec t weapon eit her fo r levelling agains t an o p posing" line of in fantry', or fo r d e fence ag ains t chario ts. In addition , the ligh t tr o ops wh o wo u ld h ave p roved so dead ly to a n iso la te d heal')' infan trym an in th e o pen would themseh-es be vulne rabl e if they a ttemp te d contact wi th suc h a fo rm atio n . Swords

Seco nd only in Importance to the long , heavy spear in th e Mycenaea n ar m o u ry was th e swo rd 0 1' pakrm a, of whi ch ab u ndan t examp les h ave bee n re cove red fro m th e Sh aft Gra ves - in which eve ry wa rrior was apparen tly equip pe d with ma ny m or e th a n he would have n ee d ed d uri ng h is life time. All show n o tice abl y fine workmansh ip , whe ther plain, p ra c tica l exam p les o r richl y d eco ra ted p ieces . T h e e arlies t swords (Typ e ;() A) h ave rou nded sh o ul d ers, sh o r t tan gs and p ronoun ce d m idribs: th e fo re bea rs o f th is type are cer tain ly Minoan. Alongs id e th ese thrus tin g sword s (whi c h h ave bee n confu sin gly described as ' ra p iers') in th e Shaft Graves was fo u nd anothe r I :'t, .of\ :. kin d (Type B) ; th ese are less wel l repre sen ted than th e forme r, an d only o n e examp le \\'3.5 foun d in th e earlier C rave Circle B. Sword Type B has square or point ed sh o uld ers. a lon ger tan g an d a sh o rter blade . It may h ave deve lo ped from the flange d

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~," ~ II W !, \':

'I ' I




!11 '; :" III

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11 ,I


&rty M i _ and Mya!naean sw o rds d ating f ...... between

e . 1900 a 'ld c . '400 BC. The shorter eQmpl e, third from right, w as acl .... lly found In Tul1Ch as t ne- am c haract eriz ed by their one-piece c onslnJct>on and wide b lades. 1l'Iey would originallt have had inlaid grips of wood or bone. (Courtesy Professor H-G.B uchhol z)

not carry a shield. He cann ot be a skir-mixbe-r, be ca use h e does not have a m issile weapon and is e nga ged in d ose com ba t with a heavy infan trym a n . Th e fa ct th at a l.gtu infan tr yman was given suc h pro m inence in ar t as to be sh own slaying a h eavy sp ca rma n su ggests tha t ligh t infa ntry we re respe cted in Myce naca n war fare; o n th is seal the ligh t s....'o rd sma n is clearly th e ' hero ' of th e sce ne. Histo rica lly, more often than not, the ligh ter the troop type , the poorer an d less respe cted ti ll::,. were; a nd apan from their lowly soc ial stat us, skirrnishc rs who did not close with the ene my were sometim es regarded as using cowa rdly or 'dir ty' ta ctics - that was how Classical Greek ho plitcs saw light tr oops.

Ttte fresco " _....nt lrom ~ ean

I( nossos., 1450-1 400

BC, n amed 'Th e Captllln of the Bl a cks ' a cent ury ago. This shOws what ap pear.;.; to be a Gntek javelinman le ading a unit ot African mercena.ws; the main figure 's sk in colour ... brown,. t hat 0' t l>e o thet' logoure, black . The yellow/or an ge 'k ilt ' ha S a blac k and white b ord er. {Cou rt e sy A shm olea n Muse um '





13th century skinnish ~ Myeena~ tight Infa mry and ·ba ~ '. Th is shows the Pyli;on 1igh1 inf antrymen in very unifonn d ~S. The s lTaps acroaa t heir chests ani for the sword scabbard , and note dult on e c arries a spear. The 'k il U, ' ha ve a bl ac k over1ay, p roba bly of leath er. See Plate F. (Co urtasy Department of Class ic s, Un "'er slty of Cincinn;otl)

Bc., d ep icting a


Th e evidence from th e Mvcenaean world , ho weve r, con tradict... this attitude; it even see ms th a t lig h t swo rd sme n actually enjo yed hi gher status th a n the speannen of th e line , be in g regarded as 'ch am p ions ' (promarhm). In Mycenaean depictions light infantrv are portrayed with respect fo r th eir bravery, an d given a promine nce that $ugges b that they wer e an integral pa rt of the army as a whole. An other and sim ila r depiction of this type of light in fantrym a n ca n be see n on the so-called 'Battle in th e Gle n ' rin g. Like the previous exam pl e, it co m es fro m a Shaft Grave at Mycenae an d is dated to the second half of th e l fith ce ntury BC. H er e too a swordsman is de picted in a heroic lig ht. Th e sce ne sh ows, on the left, a fa llen man - no weapon o r anTum r i~ visible , bu t he is p robably a warrior. A ce ntral fig ur e i'l arm ed wi th what ap pea rs to be a sho rt swo rd or lo ng dagger, a nd wea rs a kilt and a bo a r's-tu sk hel me t. This warri o r is about to stab anothe r swordsma n , who i> kneeling and trying to sta b hi!> atta cker wit h a lo ng stra igh t swo rd; thi , m an also wea rs a helmet, though it does n o t appear to be of th e boar 's-tusk t}pe. At far righ t is a heavy in fan trym an wi th a towe r sh ield, long spear and boa r's-tusk helmet. adopting a defe nsive

postu re. This S(."(.'II{' is Int eresti ng in th at it sh ows ( WO ligh t infantrymen in combat against on e an o ther with th e heavy infantrym an m o re o r less on th e sidelines. Due to th e specific su bj ec t ma tte r o f th is scene , it p ro bably d e p icts a lo ng-lo st sto ry o r myth ; h oweve r, it is still a \'er;- use ful d e p ictio n of \ l ycenaean light in fa n try. It sh ows th a t they co u ld wear h el mets, a nd if so-ne rea lly di d wear th e boar's-rus k typ e it re in fo rces th e id ea th a t th ese troo ps ha d a relatively h ig h status. Tha t th ey wear helmets bu t d o not carry sh ields is in kee p in g with th e ne eds of th e ligh t in fa n trym a n to have so me protection while needing ( 0 re ma in lightly equ ipped a nd mobil e . T h e p resen ce o f a h e avy in fantrym an in th e sce n e fu rther sup ports th e like lih ood th a t ligh t in fa n try worked in su p port of a n d in conj u nction wi th heavy in fan try, It a lso sh ows tha t ligh t In fa n-rv sometimes con fron ted each other, wh ich is understan dable if both . .ides Mere us ing the sa me tactical doctr ine . T he we apons shown in the hands of these wa r rio rs a re also characterist ica lly Mycenaean , i.e. the lo ng, straigh t stabbi ng sword an d th e sturdy dagger o r short sword . It m ay even be possibl e to id entify the swo rd types used in th e se d epictions fro m actual examples. For exa mple. the long , straigh t sworrl h eld by th e kneeling warrior in rh c Battle in th e Glen ring cou ld he th e so-ca lled Sandars Type A, o nc of whi ch was ac tually found in th e same gra\'c circl e as th e ring , a n d is of conte m porary d a te, The swo rd being wielded by the swo rds ma n O il th e cylin d e r seal fro m th e Sh aft Grave has a ye ry dis tinctively sh a ped h ilt , which looks \'ery' close to th a t o f the Sandars Type CII swo rd. H oweve r. (his presents a ch ro nological p ro b lem: m e CIl swo rd is date d to around 1400 BC, whereas the seal is from th e se co n d half of th e 16th ce n tury' BC. Perh aps th is seal is evidence th at th is pa llt' nI o f swo rd was in trod u ced m u ch earlier th an was p revi o u sly tho ugh t. TI le type o t's hort. wide-blad e d d agger with wh ich th e other swo rd sm an o n th e Ba ttle in th e Glen ri ng is armed was a co mmo n Myce n aca n weilpo n , as a ttested by n um ero us fin d s in th e Aegean regi on. A th irrl p n",,,,ih lf' j'x;\m pll' o f rhi ", r}lw o f wa rri o r i s rle p iCl e rl 011 ar- cuhcr 161h centu ry cylinder seal fro m Mvceuae , al th o ug h - sin ce he is d epi cted fig h ting a lio n - h e is stric tly speak in g a h.uuer ra th er th a n a warrio r. H oweve r, h e is a rm ed and dresse d ex a ctly th e sam e as the parallel ex am pl es discussed above . He is not weari n g a helm e t. Like th e r ing d isc usse d above , th is scene p robably relat es to z story or myth , and th is id ea is supported by the d epiction o f a very sim ila r sce n e o n a n ivory m ir ro r h a ndle fro m aro und 1200 BC. T h e similari rv o f the pose of both man an d lio n in bo th de p ictio ns, th ou gh [OUT cen tu ries ap art, is striking. Alternatively, th e lio n may be a sym bol of ' the e n e my'.

Tactic a l implications T he most like ly tactica l me o f such sword sm e n as d epicted on the Shaft G rave goo ds was as a kind o f ligh t infarrrrv wh ich foughc aga in sl, a nd in conjunction with , th e h e avy in fa nt ry. T h ey see m to haw h eld a relat ively h ig h sta tus , partly bec ause they went in to battle wi th out shields and too k on heavy in fa n try (an d, most likel y, c hariot" too ) . They wo ul d h aw been most e ffe c tive if ga th e red in fa irly large u n it" in a lo ose , ye t o rganize d forma tion. Xot being 'sc re e n ing' troo ps like skirmish crs, they wo uld n eed to be in massed units in o rd e r ( 0 h aw enough solid ity a n d impetus


El engage effe ctive ly in melees wtrh heavier infa ntry, T h ey would have been extremely effect ive against disorde red hcaw in fa n try'. breaking into the lauer's form a tion and cutting it apart. If hcavv infanuv were f.cei ng. a tim el y rush by a fresh unit of light swo rdsm en wo u ld be ab le to outrun th e m with le th al re sults. Another like ly deploym ent mig h t have bee n to guard the Fla nks ofthe main hea w infan try battle lin t' from en e my attac ks - one o f th e main h istorical ro ll' s o f light in fan t ry, both in Orcc cc a nd els ewh ere , sin ce a closely ordered bat tle lin e of heavy infantry' is inh eren tly vulnera ble to flan k attack. III su mmatio n , u.c sc s·....o rd sm en wo uld have p layed an importan t ro le in ~lyc en aeall war fare, wh ich m ay also expla in their p romi nence in the a rt istic record.

Jav e li nmen Bes id es swo rd sm en , th e so-cane d 'Ca p tain o f th e Blacks ' fresc o from

Myccnacan Knossos sh ows a no ther t)PC of lig h t infantry - j aveli nmen. The fr esco fra gment sh ows a runulng ma n in th e u sual mal e Flesh colou r of redd ish-bro wn , but also th e u p p{'r leg" o f an oth er nian with black skin , as well as a fr agment of th e latter's hea d. Sir Anh ur [van s, excavator of


Knossos . saw th e brown (i.e . Gree k) war-rio r as the offi cer o f what h e be lieve d 10 have h t' c'!l a li n s- o f Afri c a n m e rc enaries. h e n ce rh e n ame given to th e fresco , h was co m mo n in a n cie n t wa rfa re for j avel inmeu to ca rry two light javelins (Mvce n a ean . pil laja) . The main figure 011 th e fresco carries j us t such a pair of ligh t javelins and this. coupled with h is lack of an y armo ur, id entifies h im as a light in fa ntrym an. Be in g so armed h e could tech n ically b e a skirm ishcr: but th e a ppeardnce o f th e bl ack-skin ned ma n 's te g dose behm d h im , weari ng a sim ila r ki lt a nd in the sam e pose , sugg ests that the two a rc p art o f z. unit and in an o rd ered form at ion , Th e black warrio r show n on [he fre sco fragm ent is gene rally cal led a Nubi a n m erce n ary. Ap a r t from 11'.(' skin co lo u r, the o ther r eason fo r this is the t.....o feathers wh ich can he se e n in th e ha.r of bo th the G reek a nd the African be hi nd h im. Some have in te rpret ed the warriors as wea ri n g a ' h ri arm o ur to have been found . Xine o th er sites h ave yie lded exa m ples of armour made fro m bronze plate. These include gr ea"es a nd helmets, as well as pieces .....hich see m to have come from the same typ e of a rmour as th e De nd ra example. Phaistos, Mjcenae a nd another to mb a t Dend ra have all revealed pieces like thi s. This typ e of armour seems, then , to h ave been in reaso na bly wi de sp read use betwee n c.1500 and 1400 BC in the :\l ycenaean wor. d. T he use of piale fo r armo u r co n tinued th ro ugh o ut the re m ainde r of the Mycenacan pe riod , but what is sign ifican t here is the fac t th a t it was so develo ped in th e early part of the pe riod. This shows tha t the Dend ra pan o ply w-as nor a 'o ne-off' c reated fo r an in nova tive warlord wh o took it 10 the grave wi th him . Ra th er, it see ms to have been a relativel y well establish ed type of Mycen aea n m ilitary equip me n t. In ter estingly, th e Linear 1\ table ts from Knossos and Pyla s both ha ve ideograms whic h see m to ind ica te these a rmo u r co rselets. The Knossos table ts show the issue of at least 36 corsele ts, an d on ni ne tablets the co rsele t h as be en er ased an d an in got in se rted instead . T his m ay be inten de d to be a n issue of me tal req uired to make co rsele ts. In th e majori ty of cases the re leva nt nu m be rs associa ted with a co rselet ideogram have been lost. so it is unknown how many m ore m ight h ave

15th ce nt ury BC bro nze f or earm guards f rom Dendra. Defen ce s s uc h as these w ere probabl y wo rn wit h t he bronze c orsele ts . (After As lrom)


u' lhe , .. re d .. p6ctl...... ur horse-suldier$ In Mycena ean art,


from a late period vase frag..... nt. The artis1'S unfami liarity with the s ubject ma"er may be the re ason for the wa y the ' rider' is shown be ll lde t he ho rse, alt hough he Is ho lding the reins . (Courtesy National Arch aeo logi cal M useum, Athen s)

bee n listed. The Pytos table ts list 20 corsele ts; and in ad ditio n, the Pyla s corselet id eograms have a triangul ar shape o n to p of them. This loo ks like a he lm et, an d the Pylas table ts ac tually m ention h elmets alo n g wi th th e corselets. A clu e as to the use of the Knossos co rsele ts m a}' he fo und in th e fact that eac h of those tablets is in troduced by a man 's name, a nd itemises corselets, wheeled ch ariots and horses. This strongly suggests that the corsel ets we re worn by at least some chariot-ho me w-arri ors. Eigh t of the table ts list 'one corse let ' and 14 list ' 1\\'0 co rsele ts'. Th is could mean eith er that some men were issued with two co rselet>; fo r th em selves, or that some me n were issued with o ne corselet for th emselves plus o ne for the ir drive r; Those crews who did no t pos.'ieSS a ~ll i l ()f hron l~ annom- (presu mably th e majority) wore minimal dothing typical of ea rl}' Mycenaea n warriors, consisting of a cloth kilt-like garmen t and hare upper body Later chariotry


As with all of th e oth er Myce naean troo p types. in the la te r period th e Myce nacan chariot beca me lig hte r and more mo bile . Th e previous heavy box chariot and d ual ch a riot !{ave way to the lig-ht r ail chario t, wh ich a ppe are d in th e 13th centu ry BC. The a ppearance of th is new style of ch ariot acco m pa nied a major cha nge in the tactical rote of ~Iyce n ae-.m cha rio t!"}'. Un like in th e ea rly period, ch ariot-bo rn e wa rriors we re now expected to dism o unt to Ctght.. ma kin g them in effect m o unted infantry, This can be see n by th eir eq uip men t. wh ir h beca me the sam e as that o f the in fa n try - a sho r t spear, hel m e t, body a rmo ur, kilt , greaves. and a round sh ield . A fresco from Pylos also shows a som ewhat lighter ch ariot-home wa r rior who wears th e cloth tunic in place of bo dy ar m o ur. These changes refl ect th e mor e mobile n at ure of warfa re in th e la ter period . Such a fo r ce wou ld have been useful for rushi ng tr oop'" to a reas wh ich had come u nder sudden a ttack, as well as fo r la un ching such a ttacks.

CAVA LRY The rroop type fo r ;·vh ich there is th e least evidence is eavall)', of which our knowledge is limi ted to what can be gleaned from a handful of pottery fragmcn ns. Thes e date to the cud of the ~f )'c t'nacan period. givi ng so-n e ind icatio n of the spread of the an of h o rse- rid in g: to Greec e . As regards dre ss, o n e rel.uivelv de tailed d epic tio n fro m Mvce nae sh ows the cavalrym a n

wt":l.I; nl~

h'TP'I'l:l"S, th e familia r la te p e riod tu n ic, a n d wha t

a ppe ars to he upper-body armour. Stirrups were as yet un known , saddlery hein g: in its infancy. The h o rse was fitte d with a sad d le pro ba bly consisting of little m o re than a pa dded blanket. Th e re ins a nd bridle were probably rela tively developed owin g to the long trad ition of chariotrv in Mvccnaea n G reece. Exam p les of b its h ave be e n fo u nd , al t.h o u gh whether th ey come from saddle hors es or chariot horses is un known . lhc role of sad d le horses in !.Iyce naea n war fare is a matte r io r co nje ctu re, sinc e no depictions or descriptio ns or co m ba t involvi n g cava lry a re kn own . No wea po ns Gm he see n in the few d e p ic tions. Altho ugh this mi ght be ta ken as evi de n ce tha t th ese war rio rs did not carry spears or javelins , it ca nnot be said for sure that they were no t a rm ed with swo rds. Due to the highly stylized and fragm e nt a ry na tu r e of l h t' p ictorial e vide nc e, as we ll as th e unfam ilia r s u bjec t fo r th e ar tist, th e swo rd may have been omitted as it was h id de n by the figure 's righ t side (the de pictio ns show the figures facing to the ir left) . If they di d carrv a sword , it is possible tha t these warriors fough t a.. cavalry, H oweve r, it is equally possible th at the warriors sh own mounted re prese nt a class who . alth o ugh not rich o r prestigio us e noug h to 0\\1\ a cha rio t, could affo rd a horse to ca rry the m aro u nd rathe r tha n walking. T he third possibility is tha t these warriors co nstituted a force of m oun ted infant ry, This wo uld tie in to th e evid ence tha t som e char iots in th e later peri od we re also des ign ed simply for swift transpo rt. Such a force wo uld have been p art icu la rly suite d to respo nd ing to the kind of raids th at see m to have been oc cu rring in the late r pe riod .

M ILITARY ORGANIZAT ION T he ~Iycenaean a rmy was not com pose d of a horde of individ ual noble warriors who d ressed and a rm ed th emselves however they liked . Instead , the liter ary an d a rchaeolo gical evidence shows that it was composed of seve ral well o rgani zed an d equ ipped troo p types, each ....-ith their own cha racteristic formations a nd tactical uses. These troops were o rganized into units of those similarly equipped, and m ust therefo re have been 'd rilled' a t leas t to so me extent. In this respect Mycenaea n armies were similar to those of more imperialist contem po raries ouch as th e Hit utes and Egypti ans. A degree of organization was clearly nec essary to a m ilitary culture which retained power in its 0"'11 homelands fo r ce n turies, a nd se bed a n d co n tro lled o ther a reas suc h as the Aegea n islands ancl Cre te. There fore , it follows th a t each Mvce nacan an n}' would need to be supported by a com mand and logistics system eq ually well develope d, by the standards of its age. 111is issue has been more fully addressed in the previo us Mycc nuean scholarship. T he m os t usefu l p rim a ry evidence of ~ I yce n ae an o rgan ization co mes fro m the Pylos and Knossos Linear B table ts. Some info rmatio n abo ut


Mycenacan mili tary leade rship G ill a lso be glea ne d from de piction s. The la te l Sth ce ntury BC Pvlo s tabl ets provide us wi th a grea t deal of info nnation on th is topic. Although Myce nae an tactica l d oc trine ap pears to have u nde rgo ne a signiricarn c ha nge in th e 13th ce n tury BC. such aspe cts as hi gh e r command structure and logi stics may be presum ed to h ave re mained relatively u ncha nged fr om th e ea rlier pe riod. a t least a.s far a" lh ~y _ictI the ma .......... $tone c ircuit wa ll s _re b been drawn up in line in th e cen tre . Th e h eavy infan trywoul d mos t like ly have bee n o rganized into a n um ber o f units with in th e ma in battle lin e. for reaso ns of co mmand and co n tro l. Beca use swo rds me n see m to have fough t closely wi th and aga in st heavy infan try, un its of suc h tig-hter troops we re probably deployed amongst the heavy infa n try units or

arou nd the m. O n th e flanks of th e ma in battle lin e wo uld have been o ther ligh t infa ntry such as j avclinm e n and mo re swordsme n . The skir mishers , being scre e ning troops ~. na ture, would have b een deploye d in their loose fo rm at ions across th e fro nt of the a nn}', from wh ere th ey could scree n th e troops behind th e m fro m o pposing m issile fire a nd hara....\ the enemy with the ir O\\-TI arro....'S and sling bulle ts. The heavr c b ario try of the earl ie r period, also organized inro one o r more uni t.. (d e pe nding o n how many we re fiel ded ) , could conce ivably have been d eployed in any of three "'-aY's : either in front of the heavy in fa nt ry, beh ind them , o r 0 11 th e flanks. The first would h ave allowed the cha riots to c harg e dire ctly int o either th e e nemy ch ariots o r heavy infa ntry. This does no t seem likely, since it wo uld involve cha rging fro mally agains t we ll o rd ere d spca m le n o r c har iots. Chariots see m to ha ve been most effect ive agai n st diso rdered o r o utflan ke d troops - the Hini tcs and eve n the approxim ately co n te m po rary Ch in ese used th em in th is way. If the chario ts were depl oyed beh in d the main battl e line th ey could ha ve be en use d to de liver th e cou,fJ de grace after the heavy in fantry and swords me n bad done their wo rk of brea king up and disor de rin g: the enelllY line. Th e re is a p roblem with th is, h o weve r: how wo uld fri cudlv infa ntry he able (0 get out of the way of th eir mm cha riots cha rging: from beh ind th e m ? On the o th er hand , sho uld fri end ly in fa n try p ut th eir oppone nts 10 nighl a nd cre a te a g".tp fo r th eir cha rio ts, th e la tter would have been very usefu l fo r pursuing th e fleeing foot. The third possibility, that of the chariots being de ployed o n o ne o r both of th e fla nks, would have given them th e o pporruniry to de feat th e ene my's flan k troops and turn the flan k of h is main battle line . Th is therefore seems th e m ost probable use of h eavy chariots in tactical warfare. In deed, at the battle of Kadesh (1300 BC) the H ittite chario ts struck th e first blow of the battle b; charging th e unguarded flan k of o ne of the Egyp tian divisions. The point of th ese speculation s is 10 grce an apprec iation of wh~ th e ~t}'ccn aean a rmywould h ave required a n o rganized co m ma nd st ructu re in order to get the ir various troop types la wo rk toge th er as a n ann)'_ Certain functio nal appoin tments would have been unavoida ble : there mu st h ave bee n a co m m an d er-in-chief and at least one office r fo r e\'e'Y un it ill th e army. Th e co m man de r-in-ch ief' sjob would be, presum ably, to pla n the ro utes of march of an army on campaign , and to devise th e plan of attack once the battlefield had bee n chosen (as well as take the credit for victo ry and the blame fo r defeat, no do ubt). He wo uld give these ord e rs to the un it commanders, who in turn wo uld order th eir units to move in acco rdance wi th th e pl an and som e req uired tim e table . Comm and s t r uc t u r e

The h igh est rank in the Myce n aean a rmy was most likely the umnax (c hid) of o ne of the rich palaces suc h as Mvccuac, N I U ) ) U ), e re. Alth o ug h we kn ow practica lly no thing about th e «aaakae ex ce pt from the tabl ets th at record thei r p rivilege s. a nd H o mer, who m ight have pr eserve d their names, th ey were probably the 'own ers ' of the forces in the ir re gion. The rich burials of the :\Ir cenaeans are ge n erally accepted to be tho se of th e hi ghest IC\-e1 of soc ie ty, and th e gra \'e goods in ma ny of th ese paint a picture of a m ilitari stic m ling class. He ads of state were


the usual command e rs-m-cruet ot most an cie n t armies, in cludi ng those of th e con tem porary Egyptians and Hi ni tes. This was natural, since rhe v had to be seen as mi lita ry leaders who co uld p rotect th e ir people. Ho me r tells us mat for the Trojan expedi tion th e many Acbaean kin gdoms were u nited in a confederacy led by the king of Myce nae. However. even if -his confederacy is not a fict ion bu t a pi ece o f hivorv wh ich curvive-rl th ro u g h the oral rrad irion d O"'1:1 to H o m e..r 's d a y, it probably d a tes to at least the late l. Srh ce ntury BC - quite la te in the Mycen aean ch ronology. Th e u ni formity of military dress and cqu ipn-em in Myce naea n Gr ee ce , Cr e te an d th e Aege an in g-enera l d oes n o t necessarily imply th at th e re was one ci ty or king co n trollin g- a ll of it; rathe r, it sug-g-ests a co m m on Ach aean m o d e o r wartare . It is possible tha t allia nc es an d pact.~ we re fo rmed betwee n palace s, as seen in th e ma inland's co ntrol of Knossos. Mycen ac an Gre ece was ma de up of sm all auto no mo us Slates ruled by independ ent chiefs. Th e re ma y have bee n family ties betv..e en them, b u t noth ing d e finite is known about the rel ationsh ip of one settlement to a nother. C iven a good set o f rich graves. like those o f Mycenae. at other sites , it m ight have been possible to extrapol at e th e rela tive wea lt h o f th ese settlemen ts and th erefo re their r-e la tive po",·e r. b ut un fo rtunatel y th i,; is no t the case. The evide nce a t Mycen ae is la rgely m issin g and all of its tholoi (a l)pe o f tom b) have been looted . T he fact th at the finest array o f mil ita ry eq uip ment of the period was fo und at De nd ra is simply a matter o f ch ance , and te lls us n ot h ing abo ut the ranking of Argolid sites. Thes e stat es may have ha d lOOM:: m ilita ry associa tio ns at one tim e or anothe r, which may be the orig-in o f H o me r's id ea of a co n fed e racy; but it mus t be im agin e d that over ce n turies such allianc es wou ld so metime s have broken down , resulting in inter-sta te wars and the re arraugcmc nts o f suc h relationsh ips. The wanax probably held su p reme a u thori ty ove r the fighting: fo rces an d ca me from the hi g hest clas,s of soc iety, I lis immediate d e puty was the lawav tl' (o r (qrla) , tra nsla ted as 'lea d er o f the fighting people ' . This pu rely m ilitary figure was p robably th e r eal ' bl-ains' behind th e ar-my's stra tegy an d tactics, since he was free o f th e m uch bro ad er co nce rn.. o f the wanax. H e wou ld p resumab ly have bee n of high birth to en tid e him to hol d suc h an impo r tant positio n, and m igh t we ll have been a m e mbe r of th e wanax 's family, Be lo w th ese lead e rs of the sta te th e 'r egim en tal' co mmanders and the basileis must have o perate d . Th e basileis in cluded ad mi nistra tors o f provincial estates, whom we fin d being given new lan d in the P vlos table ts. Due to th e expe nse and pr estige o f chari ots. the warr io rs who we re m o un ted on them were probably from the upper class o f soc ie ty. T h is co uld in clude land own e rs such as baslleis and oth e r high-born and the refore wealthy me n . The pal a ce se rve d as the administra tive, co m ma nd and supply ce n tre of the a rm )'. Ch ariot un its were o rga nize d an d co n troll ed by m e palace. as the ta ble ts show. Higher organization: the evidenc e and the arguments


The role of the palace as th e ' ge nera l head q ua rte rs' o f the Myceuaean a rm y, issu ing d etail ed o rd e rs for the de p loym ent o f troo ps, ca ll be see n in the Pylos ta blets o f the 13th cen tu ry BC, ar.d may pe rhaps be presu m ed fo r the ear lie r pe rio d . Th e tab le ts rec ord th e installat ion at

several places along the vlessen ian coast o f bodies of troops each consisting of a com m a nder, several o fficers a nd a number of soldiers. Each co n tinge nt is accompanied b y a nobleman wi th the title ftJ,ta. Som e have in te rp re ted th e hJrln as a kind of liaison officer be rween the field un it a nd the pa lace, o thers as the commander of a re gim e nt of the anny. Sinc e each gro up lists an officer as well as an eqao; the fo rm er interpre ta tio n seem s more likel y. T his doc um ent, co mprising five tablet.", is h eaded 'Th us the wa tch ers arc guard ing th e coas tal regio ns ' . It tells m that Pylas, bei ng a n nnwalled coastal city, feared an att ack from th e sea, and that the authorities a t th e palace decided to send out small unit." to watch "o r ra ids. T he whole coast was divid ed into te n sectors; th e name of the official res ponsible for each sector is listed , fo llowed by a few other n ames who are presum ably h is subordinate officers. In a world without maps, th is shows a hi gh level of organi zation. T he palace bureaucracy also records th e issue of wha t appears to he clothi ng to b e distribu ted to th e f qrta an d keseno (see below) at Kn ossos. Th ese do cuments form part of a series of tablet." that d ea l with a specific kind of textile o r ga rmen t called p a wfa. This garme nt/ textile is furthe r defined by adj ectives such as fH'1U'weta (twith wedge pa tte rn ' ) , a roa (' of better q uality' }, reukon uk u ( '....-ith whi te fringes' ). euta rapi (,with red patter n ' ) , and ot he rs , It has already been suggested tha t the eqetae wc rc high-ranking comm and ers. K l') t7/Q, on the other hand , seem to have been a so rt of alterna tive to the l' qt'( l(! but ofa lower ra nk, since th ey are neve r issu ed with ga rmen ts 'of be tte r qu ality' , but with those of rath er un ifo r m decoration. It is likely th at the word kesrna was the d esignation fo r fore ign wa r rio rs who we re supplied wi th garments fro m the palace. Th is is sup po rted by th e Ca ptain of the Blacks fresco from Knossos,

A re eonstn ,,;t io n of th e c itadel of MyeenM .s it INIY h~ o p pco rod I.. Dbou1 1 300 B C .

(from a pa,n li n 'll by Alton




....hic h sho....-s the Xubian ....-arrior wea rin g the same type o f wedgepatterned Mycenaean kilt as hi s Gree k lead e r. Fin ally. the total am ount of stor ed paweQWJ.~ proba bly about 453 ite ms, th e large num ber Ixing an ind icat io n tha t we are d e alin g with u n ifo rm s. A Mycen aean army composed of most or all of the d iffe re n t tro op t~ves ident ifie d h er e would h ave co ns iste d of seve ral thousan d so ld iers of all ran ks. Because o f th is, it is impossib le tha t its warriors could all ha ve bee n d ra wn from th e lo cal regio n 's ruling elite. Some d isagre e ....i th th is. believing th a t the Myce nae an so ld ie r was firs t re p re se nted by the in d ividual aris toc rat from th e tim e of th e Shaft Graves. followed by a n elite corps at the time of the fall o f Knossos, and that it was not u ntil the 13 th ce ntury BC th a t units o f commo n m en developed. tra ined to Ilgh r o n foot a nd le d by h o rse -ta mi ng o fficers. H oweve r, th is model is un likely to be a ccu r at e. It so uucb, heavil y in flu e nced by the H o m er ic 'heroiziug' of Myccuae an 'Warriors a nd H o m e r's picture of individ ua listic warfa re . Co uld the individual aristocrat o f the 16th ce n tu ry BC have exerted enou gh po we r o ve r the population o f h is re gio n to co ntro l th em. interact wi th fur-off kingd o m s, an d retain hi s position, without a n actual army beh in d him? As for th e sugges tio n that the individual aristocratic warrio rs had d evelo ped in to an e li te corps b y the time o f the fa ll o f Knossos (c. 1400 BC) , it ha s since be e n shown that alth o ugh the g ra'-es of th is peri od d o seem to represe nt part of an ' aristoc racy', the exclusively mili tary ch arac te r o f such a class ca n no t be d e m o nstra te d. Altho ug h it is pro bably correct that in th e 13 th ce ntu ry BC so ld iers were o rganized into u n its o f tr ained com m o n men, the evidence .':I ugg~$U rhar thi$ was and Pylo~ T he .... come from tabl e ts recording the

a lloc.at ion of military equi pment 10 "".. wriors., and are • ..,idence of. well-deYeloped Myed pattern of tOVoQ" shield , of curved sec tion and shaped into a raised neck guard 01'1 the top rim. Th e carrying st rap « llowed thol shiodl,l'!l;


.. Se.. 1lmpnll.alo n from Mycen _, 16th _ tury BC, s howi ng a light -..d..-n dispatchi ng • .......,. _

....... _ _

Pbte A.. '"""'"

seene Is al9n~ ~ It gI¥e$ an insOgIht inm _ of the bctlcaI_ of such ~ I'Ie-r s,....-

........ 'IP

............ ..-.ng their~_ .II"ilitll. (Courtesy Professor Or



position to be chcnqcd from the front to tho bec k of the body by thro wi ng the upper body and shoulders back or forward as need ed. Like all early period spearmen he is equ ipped with a boa r's -tusk helmet . His spearhead is of the "s1iteocketeo' type, a transit ion al design be tween the sooe-sccketec and fully socketed types.


MISS ILE TROOPS , CENTUR IES BC This scene shows thr ee disti nct kinds of light troops empl oyed by the eaty Mycerlaeans, ero the three missile weapons used. As wel l as battlefield skirmishers, such :roops would have been far more suited to the de fence of citad el walls than heavy spearmen or swo rdsmen. C1: Regular archer, 16th century BC This arche r can be found on a sc ene inl£id int o the blade of a dagger trom ooe of the Shaft Graves at Myceoae. He is shown supporti ng heavy spearmen, fighting an enem y oortrayed as lions. Our description of this archer as a ;regu lar' Is a relative term, in that he Is not nude like some oth er d epictions of Mycenaean arc hers, but wears a garmen t aecoratec in the same way as those of his l our comrades on the Inlaid scene, suggesting unifo rm regJlarlty. He is armed with a composite bow which when dr a..... n assu mes a sem iet-curer shape. His arrowhead is made of knapped obs idian (volcanic glass ); at a time when bronze was still expensive this materia l provided a cheap and expendable alterna tiv e. The number fou nd ir elite burials Indicat es that th eir use was not restricted to the lower classes. C2: Irregular s1inger, 16th c en tu ry BC This figure represents what was probabl')o the lowest cl ass of Myc.eoaean warrior. He comes from an embossed silver rllyton (a vessel used to pour liba toos) now called Ihe 'Sieg e Rhytoo' , which depicts an assa ult 00 a wa lled town. The naked slingers and arch ers are shown skirmishing ahead of heavy speermen with to wer shie lds . Slingers suc h as th is one may have bee n ci vilians who were called out to de fend their town if it came und er att ack. His weapon is cheap and simple , being nothi ng mo re than a piece of leat her cut to shape. His pro jectile is made of un fired d ay and is based on earlier excav ated examoles. these sling bullet s were also mad e of shaped stones. C3: Nu bi an mercenary javelinm an, 1450-1400 BC Taken from a fresco found in Mycenaean Knossos and called 'Th e Ca ptair of the Blac ks' , th is figure po rtrays a foreign mercena ry in Mycenaean servi ce, The fresco sho ws what wa s evide ntly a line of Afr ican warriors led by a Greek off ice r. The two feathers fixed into his hair suggest th at he is Nubran; th is type of adornment can also be seen in Egypti an depict io ns of Nubians , who were regarded as excellent light troo ps . He carries two ligh t javelins 'oYi1h heads cut from bronze plat e and tan gs driven into th e end of the shafts . His garment is relativel"{ ornate , wh ich ma{ sug gest th is was one of the pa lace 's elite specialist ums. As well as th e c hllracleris tic jllvelinmlln's neck ban d he wellr.l t wo bronze rIngs above each ankle , wh ich may or may not be a Nubian element . 1 0t h -1~ t h

D : DUAL CHARIOT, 1 500 - 1 40 0 BC Inspired by a scene carv ed on a gravesto ne from Mycenae, th is plate depicts :he heavy 'dual ch ariot' of the earlie r period, so nam ed because th e cab is of dual co nstru cti on ,

incorpo rQting the box proper Qnd :x:mi circulor 'win qa ' projecting from 1he rear sid es. Excep t fo r th e mouth bits of the bridle, no remains of Mycenaean chariots have been found, so reconstructions ca n only be made by studytlg depi ct ions and tests as w ell as mak ing comparisons with surviving Egyptian ch ario ts. The b-aced double draught pole acces-s to be a st rengthening feature of the Aegean chariot. do know that the cnaocts sto red at Myceoaean Kn05SOS were paInted vanous soaoes of red . and tha t thes e probably used by' higher ranks were inlaid w ith ivory. 01: Warrior in corselet, c. 1400 BC This warrior wears t he famous 'Dendr a panoply' narrec after the site of ts d iscovery. This remark able suit of brorze armour is the most complete example fo und of the type of corselets issued to chario t- borne warriors in th e Un ear B tablets, but frag ments of a numoo- of similar armours have been found elsewhere. The vanocs plates were joined together by leather 1M ngs and designed 10 be able to slide over each ot her, allowing th e wearer enough mov ement to w ield his long spear effectively. The boar's-tus k helmet and arm guards were also fou nd with the corselet. 0 2: Ch ari oteer, 15th cent ury BC Un like the warrior, th e cha riot dri ve' was no t expec ted to engage in co mbat; his job was to maintain co ntrol of lha chariot and manoeuvre it into position for th e wa rrior to use his spea r. This would have ta ken great sl\ill, given the retatve heaviness of these early chariot s and the rocky Greek lerrl and spearhe ad, 11·12

early S la l.. 1fi

slit-sockctcd he ad 9. 6 1, 83 wicb'ling 11. 14-15 wi ~ ldi ng from ch ari o t. 44--5 , U
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