Battles and Sieges

Tags

, , , ,

Eannatum of Lagaš’s Stele of the Vultures in the Louvre, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stele_of_Vultures_detail_01-transparent.png

Academic histories sometimes get very narrowly focused. There are some good reasons for this, but its not so good to read a book on archaic or classical Greek warfare which barely acknowledges that Italy or the Hellenistic period existed. Did I fall into that trap in my book on Achaemenid armies and warfare?

To find out, I made a list of all the battles and sieges which I mentioned in my forthcoming book.

Continue reading

Some Addenda to the History of the Historical Fencing Movement

Tags

, , , ,

The mysterious (and tracking-heavy and script-heavy) website historicaleuropeanmartialarts.com has a history of the current historical fencing movement. Although they don’t provide an email address, I would like to add a few lines to their chronicle.

1972: James Louis Jackson publishes Three Elizabethan Fencing Manuals (Scholars’ Facsimiles and Reprints), a facsimile of the English version of di Grassi, Vincento Saviolio, and George Silver’s Brief Instructions. This book is purchased by many university libraries and becomes the starting point for many English-speaking fencers.

1979: Archaeologist William Gaugler founds a program teaching masters of classical Italian fencing at San José State University in California (Britannica). His books and students have a major influence in the historical fencing community in North America after the year 2000 and help keep this tradition alive in North America where it is threatened by versions of fencing optimized for winning bouts under the Olympic rules and electric scoring. Two articles are Tony Wolf, “The Future of Fencing is in its Past: An Interview with Maestro John Sullins.” Journal of Manly Arts, August 2003 https://www.ejmas.com/jmanly/articles/2003/jmanlyart_wolf_0803.htm and Puck Curtis, “In Search of the Rudis,” A Midsummer Night’s Blog 18 June 2014 http://www.puckandmary.com/blog_puck/2014/06/in-search-of-the-rudis/

?September? 1999: first Western Martial Arts Workshop (WMAW) in the Chicago area. At some point it sets up a bi-annual schedule at the DeKoven centre in Racine WI, with occasional smaller, off-year events without the WMAW name: they numbered the event in 2019 as their 14th and the event in 2007 as their 8th.

Continue reading

New Magazine Articles

Tags

, ,

an issue of "ancient warfare" magazine and an issue of "medieval warfare" magazine on a hardwood surface

So far this calendar year, I have published three articles for money:

In another year I would have posted the bibliographies or some bonus content, but I don’t have the words in me and I should probably be doing something better with my time.

Murder, Rape, and Treason

Tags

, ,

Freelance Academy Press, dealer in choice codices and excellent ebooks on history, arms and armour, and martial arts, has some books on sale.

They publish books like Steve Muhlberger’s and Will McLean’s Murder, Rape and Treason: Judicial Combats in the Late Middle Ages (2019), a modern moral criticism of warfare in 14th century France wrapped around a discourse on Geoffrey Charney’s questions about the joust, tournament, and war, and Ellis Amdur’s Dueling with O Sensei: Grappling with the Myth of the Warrior Sage (2016). They also carry Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani’s books on arms and armour in Iran in the Islamic period, and La Belle Compagnie’s beautiful 1381: The Peel Affinity.

I have not had a chance to flip through their publications since 2014 except for the one on Charny, but their books are always well edited and laid out.

Edit: FYI- they are US based, international shipping may be pricey at the moment.

A Tale of Three Knives

Tags

, , ,

three paring knives (two hand-ground with steel blades and one mass-produced with a stainless steel blade) on a wooden table

Top to bottom: the Ikea VÖRDA, Phl Frazer’s knife, and Tod’s bone-handled knife

As a human being, every day I use edgetools to prepare food. This week I want to talk about three of the ones I use most often, and how much and how little some things have changed over the past 600 years. These were all made by the same modern technique (cutting a shape out of a sheet of rolled homogeneous steel and then grinding away the excess)

Scale-Tanged, Bone-Handled Knife TCP8

Overall length: 21 cm
Grip: 9 cm
Blade: 12 cm
Blade thickness (maximum): 3 mm
Blade width (maximum): 21 mm
Cross section: hollow-ground wedge
Material: Carbon steel with a bone grip riveted with brass tube and brass bolsters where the blade meets the handle

Tod’s knife has a heavy spine, a delicate shape in the blade and the handle, and has a pleasing substance in the hand like a Laguiole without being heavy or bulky.

Continue reading

Papponymy

Tags

, , , , ,

a plaque of a naked woman (or godess) standing with her hands clasped in front of her stomach

An Old Babylonian terracotta in the Louvre, Paris

In the past few weeks I underwent a kind of Inanna’s Descent with the help of some dear friends who were kind enough not to point and laugh as I did what had to be done. Another thing which helped was classical music, and listening to my favourite radio station gave me an excuse to talk about ancient history.

Papponymy is the practice of naming a son after their paternal grandfather, so that names alternate between generations. Many ancient cultures sometimes practiced it, just like Anglos today sometimes name a son after the father. The satraps of Dascyleium / Hellespontine Phrygia included a Pharnabazus son of Pharnaces son of Pharnabazus. If you know to look for papponymy, you can use it as a clue in guessing family relationships and how many generations stand between individuals who happen to be mentioned in surviving writing. If the names are the same, one or three generations are probably missing, if different then two or four.

Listening to that radio station, I learned about a family which practised papponymy in the 20th century:

An ancient historian would call these Dmitri II Shostakovich, Maxim Shostakovich, and Dmitri III Shostakovich (Dmitri I was the composer’s father) because ancient historians value genealogy and umambiguity and have learned about regnal numbers. But in ordinary circumstances, nobody is likely to confuse the grandson and the grandfather.
Continue reading

Cross-Post: Books on Ancient Warfare 2005-2020

Tags

, ,

Over on closed social media, someone asked for books published between 2005 and 2020 which readers of Ancient Warfare Magazine should know about. I thought the list was too interesting to get lost on closed social media, so I copied it here, deleting the things which were published too early and the ones which summoned pushback and ones which cost more than about $150.

A question mark ? notes books which I have not flipped through (or been recommended to me by someone I know and respect), and an obelus † marks books which I could not recommend without warnings.
Continue reading

Against Seeing Everything as an Identity

Tags

, , , ,

A chart of the frequency of the word "identity," "nationality," "ethnicity," "race," and "performativity" over time ... "identity" becomes fashionable after 1960 and especially 1985

Google ngrams is a fun toy as long as you dont take its dates too seriously! (They refuse to work with librarians to clean up their data or with paleographers to OCR old books more accurately). https://books.google.com/ngrams/

Some kinds of academics like to talk about “identities.” Literally, that means the things which you point to and say “I am.” But many academics use it to mean other groups that people get sorted in to. In chapter 2 of a book I recently reviewed, Guy Halsall calls class, gender, age, nationality (“ethnic identity”), and free or servile status “identities”. My friend James Baillie (who is absolutely not responsible for this essay) uses the term in the same way to describe different kinds of people in the UK today. The blogger and medical doctor Geeky Humanist wrote the following paragraph on “gender identity”

What do I mean by woman? Short(ish) answer: Any adult whose gender identity is female. For purposes of anti-misogyny endeavours such as International Women’s Day, I would also include a) girls (children whose gender identity is female), and b) anyone who is affected by misogyny as a result of having been determined on the basis of genital configuration to be female, even if their actual gender identity isn’t female. … Transgenderism (and cisgenderism, for that matter) isn’t about ‘choosing’ to identify as a particular gender. It’s about the inescapable fact that nearly all of us do identify as particular genders – not because we choose to, but because it’s a key part of us – and that sometimes a person’s gender identity doesn’t match the gender of their body.

Geeky Humanist has some ideas which are strange to me and which I don’t understand as well as I would like to. I don’t think she is saying that a man is anyone who says he is a man, and she definitely does not think it is any person of the male sex, she seems to understand “gender identity” as something more like sexual orientation. I think that calling gender and class and nationality “identities” and just identities confuses people about how power and societies work.
Continue reading

Cross-Post: Armour vs. Bullet Tests

Tags

, , , ,

The Before Times were good for tests of bows or guns against low-tech armour. I just learned that Sylvia Leever’s tests against two 17th century breastplates is available on YouTube:

Sylvia Leever, For Show or Safety? (2005, posted 3 August 2013)

You can find more information about her project in:

You can see more videos like this:

Enjoy, and when planning your post-apocalyptic raids please avoid Oxford, Long Island, and Delft!