Anonymous asked: I bought what looks like a shield from yard sale. It is small, approximately 11 inches. Heavy, maybe bronze. Definitely hand decorated and had made. Metal, hand cut tabs connect the outside rim to the dome-like middle piece. Is there a way a could send you a picture to get your opinion of it. The lady that sold it said she traveled the world with her husband and his construction company. She said locals would knock on the door and offer items for sale to make money.
Hello ‘anonymous’, you can show me your shield picture by clicking on the ‘submit’ button on my tumblr.
This mid 2nd century BC terracotta figurine comes from Myrina on the isle of Lemnos, Greece, and it’s a detailed scene of a war elephant trampling on a warrior. The trampled warrior is a Galatian with his typically celtic oval shield.
This scene is from the so called ‘Elephant battle’ when Antiochos I of the Seleucid Empire defeated them in battle using 16 elephants of which the Galatians had never seen before in battle. As a result Antiochos I gained the title of ‘Soter’ which meant ‘Saviour’
The use of elephants in battle was a common site on hellenistic battlefields in this period and this practice originated from Alexander the Great’s encounter of them in India at the battle of the Hydaspes. The devastating force and power of an angry elephant cost his army many losses and as a result his successors began to train and use elephants in future Hellenistic battles.
Anonymous asked: do you know of any serious 'enactment' groups in the Somerset region of the UK who try to reconstruct bronze/iron age fighting styles?
Not really. For Iron age, the next local one is ‘Brigantia’ in Portsmouth. But i’m not sure if they’re still around or not. Another Iron age society is the ‘The Silures’ in S Wales, but again I’m not sure they’re around anymore.
Hittite Shields part b
To back up the previous statement on Hittite shields being circular, here is more archaeological evidence but from Azatiwataya, modern day Karatepe in southern Turkey. There is an open air museum there which show cases Hittite bas reliefs.
I love the ‘figure of eight’ shield used by the Mycenaean era greeks. It is also known as the ‘Achaean’ shield because of the Iliad’s usage of calling Greeks as Achaeans. The structure is so unusual and intricate. Modern stereotypical understanding of the bronze age is of primitive technology and thinking, but in actual fact the bronze age is one of the golden ages of human civilisation and cultures. The two pictures are of the front and back of the ‘figure of eight’ shield.
Courtesy of Nikos A Panos for the first picture.
Hittite Shields part a
I like to clarify first that the following information about Hittite shields are from the Hittite and neo-Hittite time period. It is a broader perspective of them.
I have read and seen many academic opinions on Hittite war gear and most of the time I get a little confused with it, as might some of you do. When explanations and illustrations of Hittite shields are presented, they mostly all seem to depict that they used either a ‘violin’ shaped shield or an unusual shaped shield that comes from an Egyptian military relief that looks more like a flat rectangular form of the ‘violin’ shield. But very little archaeological evidence can support these claims.
Another type of shield can be found archaeologically and from not only the Hittites themselves, but also from foreigners. The circular shield appears to be more numerous in depictions of Hittite infantry. The two Pictures above are from Carchemish, a city that’s situated on the Turkish and Syrian border. Picture 1 is a relief depicting a Hittite warrior from 11th-9th century BC. The carving is of the Assyrian school of art and it’s why it looks similar to reliefs from the neighbouring Mesopotamian peoples. Picture 2 is what looks like a scene depicting a military victory of some sort. Their raised hands are supposedly meant to be a gesture: perhaps a victory gesture. The two shields cant be coincidence because the reliefs are two different styles of workmanship. The soldiers are even wearing them in the same way.
Just to let you lot know that some of the pictures from the Galatian warriors post can be found in the Nick Secunda books, ‘Seleucid and Ptolemaic reformed armies 168-145BC’. They are divided into two volumes, ‘The Seleucid Army’ and ‘The Ptolemaic Army’. They also contain some very convincing recontructed colour pictures.
Anonymous asked: more galatian warrior from egypt
These Galatian warriors are all depictions made by non-Galatian peoples, but they all correlate a similar image of what a Galatian warrior looked like and this cannot be coincidence. Literary evidence points out that the Galatians were a Celtic people that migrated and settled into Asia Minor from Europe. This statement also has firm archaeological evidence to back this up by these depictions. Naturally, some of the Galatian equipment used would have been of Hellenistic influence and even manufacture due to the location of their settlement in Anatolia. But the base ‘celtic’ style of warfare is still obvious and a clear similarity between them and their Gallic cousins is seen.
Picture 1: Infantryman. Egyptian terracotta, Warrior wears trousers, carrying thureos (shield), wears and holds sword on the right, has long hair.
Picture 2: Infantryman. Egyptian terracotta, naked, carrying thureos (shield), wears and holds sword on the right, has long hair.
Pictures 3 & 4: Cavalryman. Hellenistic terracotta (maybe Seleucid) from Mount Carmel - El-Bi’ne near Acre. Clothes and equipment are a clue of his Galatian ethnicity
Picture 5: Infantryman. From Myrina, Asia Minor. Seleucid influenced equipment, remnants of pink and black paint on the helmet with light blue on the cloak.
Picture 6: Infantryman. From Asia Minor. Very similar equipment to picture 5 apart from the gorgon’s head on the shield.
Picture 7: Infantryman. From Myrina, Asia Minor. naked apart from sword belt and sword worn and held on right side.
Picture 8: Pergamon relief, shows lower part of a hexagonal shield a typical shape shield for the Galatians as well as the oval shape. The rest of the panoply also might have been used by the Galatians
Picture 9: Pergamon relief, Shows spoils of war. the oval thureoi together with the chariot wheels are definite evidence for Galatian battle equipment. This suggests that the rest of the spoils belonged to the Galatians
Picture 10: Infantryman. Egyptian terracotta, naked, carrying thureos (shield), sword belt and wears and holds sword on the right, has long hair, cloak. best example of a Galatian warrior with celtic equipment
Gallic Shields part 1b
Yes! There is another section for part 1 as this section talks about Gallic shield sizes and the topic of size is extensive. The point made earlier in part 1a about the ‘Vachères’ warrior can be explained in more depth. The picture above (thanks to ‘Les Leuki’ reenactment) is the best example of a trained Gallic infantry battle formation. Due to ancient stereotype, most people to this day still believe that the Gallic peoples fought in a wreckless undisciplined manner, with a mentality of ‘every man for himself’ in a foolish ‘heroic’ sense. The territorial span of Gallic peoples was extensive and even though they were heavily divided into tribal groups and confederations, they could not have achieved this with battle cohesion at least. They lived next to well attested battle drilled and diciplined mediterranean peoples such as the Greeks and Italic peoples. The fact that they managed to survive for centuries next to them, invading their territories and defeating them in pitched battles, proves that their style of warfare was not primitive and disorganised.
Here is where the size of the Gallic shield comes into it. To pull off military victories against well organised and equiped armies, the Gallic peoples must have had shields that were large enough to give them sufficient protection. I also believe that the Gallic style of warfare was predictable and well known throughout europe, in the same way that Greek hoplite warfare was well known. The Gallic shield could also have been used in a Gallic style of phalanx, like the picture above portrays. If they did, I would speculate that they were drawn into a similar kind of manipular formation that was more ‘loose’ or flexable in look. The Romans started defeating the Gallic peoples at about the same time as they were defeating hoplite armies. In this light the Gallic style of wafare could be correlated to the phalanx type of warfare. The Gallic shields in literary sources point out that they were large enough to offer a standard unarmoured user with adequate protection, and from experimental reenactment the Gallic shield does work in a phalanx and provides a lot of protection. On this evidence I believe that the average Gallic shield size was from ground to waist high.
Gallic Shields part 1a
Where to start! Firstly, let me establish that when I say ‘Gallic shields’, I mean shields from the territories of modern day France, Belgium, Southern Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Northern Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Central Anatolia (Galatia). Secondly, These locations’ modern boundaries should be taken with a pinch of salt when correlating to ‘Gallic shields’. Thirdly, The following information about this type of shield should not (in any shape or form) be stamped as the sovereign type of shield used within the specified time period. Right, now thats over, lets discuss Gallic shields.
The first thing that is obvious when one looks at archaeological evidence for Gallic shields is the size. Usually, ancient depictions of these are of a body shield that are similar to the roman scutum in size. Even from excavations in France and Switzerland, there is a pattern of a large shield used. The problem that stirs many to debate over this are the small numbers of native depictions of their own shields. Even then the sizes vary dramatically; from a small shield like the statue from ‘Saint-Maur-en-Chausée’, or a large shield like the one from ‘Mondragon, Vaucluse’.
On the other hand, both interpretaions of Gallic shield sizes could be accurate and used either at different time periods or at the same time. Like the British iron age votive shields, the Gallic shield varieties could also have been used for different battle purposes or even social purposes. Or it could be as simple as the diference between ‘battle’ shields and parade shields. Currently this is all speculatory, therefore, there are a lot more points of view to cover and contemplate.
Foreign depictions of Gallic shields don’t make a clear statement either on this matter. For instance, the stone frieze from ‘Civitalba, Italy’, and the Egyptian terracotta figure of a Galatian warrior, were made by non-‘Gallic’ peoples and yet they depict them with the same uncertaintly (by our modern standards), as the ‘Gallic’ peoples themselves. What we can say for certain is that Gallic shields came in a variety of sizes, from ground to chest high to as small as a buckler. If literary sources are anything to go by, it would be that the average Gallic shield was ground to waist size. This answer is simply due to the fighting styles and strategies that were testified about them. I would say that the ‘Vachères’ warrior statues’ rested arm gesture on a shield, is the best depiction of an avarage Gallic shield size.
Iron age British shields part 4
The bronze votive shields from Salisbury which are now in the British Museum, are a collection of invaluable information on British shield types from the iron age. But these are not the only ones that have been found in Britain. In fact there are a greater collection of these that are not publicised as much and they play an even greater part in identifying British shield designs. There is a fanstastic website dedicated to recording and publicising archaeological finds in Britain and these bronze miniatures are amongst them and its called ‘The Portable Antiquities Scheme’. They may not be in the same level of preservation but they are intriguing.
Thureos, Scutum, Shield
I have seen many historians and reenactment groups who seem to point towards the fact that the large oval body shield of Italic and celtic types were small. Rubbish! There are many pieces of evidence that the scutum or thureos were large enough to cover from the shoulder to either half the shin or even ankle. Archaeological evidence from Britain to Egypt proves this. In Asia Minor, aka Turkey today, there are stelae that are from the Bithynian people that lived there, and prior to the Galatian migration, they had been using hellenistic round aspis. The Galatians or Gauls meanwhile, were using the thureos or scutum, a distinctive large oval body shield. When the Galatians did settle their military influence swept the hellenistic world and the successor peoples began using and recording their use of it.
The picture abouve is known as 'Stele C' from the Grave stele of Diliporis, found in Kutluca, 1st half of 2nd century BC. It clearly shows in accurate proportions the size of a thureos adopted by the Bithynians during the Galatian period.
Here is a flickr with more Bithynian stele:
"Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience" - Mark Twain or Albert Einstein
Illyrian shields part 4
One more thing to consider is the symbol on a lot of the southern Illyrian coins as seen in the picture. Since the sun/star on the ‘Gradistë belt plate’ was on shields and on coins, surely this symbol might have been on shields as well as coins. The only problem is that no evidence of it being on shields has been found. It is now speculation as to the symbol being historically accurate being portrayed on a shield.
To make matters worse, no one knows what it symbolises. Some say it is a ‘tavli’ or boardgame, most likely Backgammon due to aesthetics. Others say its religious and has to do with the two stars of the Dioscuri (two brothers from Greek mythology) aka, Gemini constellation.More mundane theories are that they are doors and even flowers. Who knows?
There, nice and short!!!