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I.Georganas, Weapons and Warfare in Early Iron age Thessaly, Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, 2005, Vol. 5, No 2, pp. 63-74

I.Georganas, Weapons and Warfare in Early Iron age Thessaly, Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, 2005, Vol. 5, No 2, pp. 63-74

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The Canadian Institute in Greece Dionysiou Aiginitou 7GR 115 28 Athens, Greece
Received: 4-11-2004Accepted: 15-3-2005 E-mail:info@aiathens.gr
The aim of this paper is to examine all the archaeological evidence regarding weapons in EarlyIron Age Thessaly. This involves the study of both offensive (swords, knives, spearheads,arrowheads, and sling bullets) and defensive (shields) equipment. This analysis shall serve as the basis for an attempt to throw some light on the nature of warfare in Thessaly during this crucialperiod of Greek history.
Naue II swords, knives, spearheads, Protogeometric, Geometric
Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, Vol. 5, No 2, pp. 63-74Copyright © 2005MAAPrinted in Greece. All rights reserved
Since the works of Snodgrass in the 1960s(1964; 1967), very little has been written onEarly Iron Age (EIA) weapons and warfare. With the exception of Kilian-Dirlmeier’s(1993) fundamental study on swords, most of the material is published as part of excavationreports, which understandably do not go intomuch detail. Recently, Irene Lemos (2002)has successfully attempted to bring togethermost of the weapons evidence from the Aegean, but only for the Protogeometricperiod. In addition, the lack of anyrepresentational art and written sources stillinhibit us from establishing a clearer picturefor EIA warfare, in contrast with the ampleevidence from the Late Geometric periodonwards. In this paper, we are first going topresent all the archaeological record regardingweapons in EIA Thessaly (fig.1). This shall befollowed by a discussion summarising theevidence and putting it into a greater context.
During the EIA the dominant type of sword used was an iron cut-and-thrustweapon widely known today as “Naue II”.This form, which derived from the similar, but bronze sword found in Late Bronze AgeGreece, is thought to have been introduced tothe Eastern Mediterranean from CentralEurope (Snodgrass 1964, 93; Catling andCatling 1980, 253; Kilian-Dirlmeier, 1993,94-105). Various scholars have offereddetailed classifications of the bronze examples(e.g. Catling 1961; Sandars 1961), althoughvery little has been written for their ironsuccessors (Snodgrass 1964, 93-113; Kilian-Dirlmeier 1993). Generally speaking, thistype of sword is flange-hilted with the bladehaving parallel edges for the greater part of itslength before tapering to a sharp point. Thehilt usually takes the form of two or moresuccessive swellings alternating withintervening “necks”. In some cases, there aretwo “pommel-ears” projecting outwards, withor without a spur between them. Thehandgrip may have a swelling to prevent thehand from slipping. At its base, the hiltwidens into the shoulder of the blade(Snodgrass 1964, 93-94).In Thessaly iron swords have beenrecovered from the sites of Marmariani,Homolion, Halos, Volos-Kapakli, Krannon,Sarantaporo and Pythio. In addition to thesefind spots, we might also include the tholostombs at Nea Anchialos and Agioi Theodoroi,where the reports mention several ironweapons but without giving any informationabout them (
 A. Delt.
42, 255;
 A. Delt.
45,204-205).Tholos tomb VI at Marmariani yielded asword with a preserved length of 0.27 m andwidth of ca. 0.036 m (Heurtley and Skeat1930-31, 36, fig. 15.22). The end of the hiltand the end of the blade are missing. One rivetis preserved at the end of the hilt with bronzehead. The impress of the wooden sidepieces isstill preserved in some places of the hilt. Thedate of this sword is problematic as the tombwas in use for some 150 years (LateProtogeometric-Middle Geometric).Chamber tomb I at Homolion contained aspecimen 0.672 m long, dated to the PGperiod (
 A. Delt.
17, 175). A number of swordscomes from the Halos tumuli, althoughadequate information is available only for the11 pieces found at Tumulus A and for twoswords coming from Tumuli B and G. Nineout of the 16 pyres of Tumulus A containedone sword each, while Pyre XIV yielded twoexamples (fig. 2). All the swords aretypologically similar, although four of themhave a slightly broader blade (Wace andThompson 1911-12, 26). The preservedlength of the blades ranges between 0.62 and0.91 m (average 0.75 m), with that of the hiltusually measuring 0.12 m. The hilts are of thesame type in all the examples and they aremade in one piece with the blade. Originally,they seem to have been completed by hilt-plates of wood, bone or ivory, inlaid andattached by iron rivets (some of these stillsurvive in the pieces from Pyres V and VII). Inthe broad-bladed examples, the blade has awidth of 0.05 m at the hilt and for somedistance below the edges runs almost parallel but afterwards increases to a width of 0.06 m(Wace and Thompson 1911-12, 26, fig.15.1). To this group, we may also allocate theexample from Tumulus B (blade”s preservedlength 0.40 m, width 0.045-0.05 m) (Waceand Thompson 1911-12, 19). In the narrow- bladed pieces, the blade has again a width of 0.05 m at the hilt but afterwards decreases to0.04 m. It increases again to 0.05 m beforetapering to a point. In section, the blade iscusped rhomboid and the midrib is quiteprominent, in contrast with the broad bladedswords where the midrib is very slight (Waceand Thompson 1911-12, 28, fig. 15.3). Tothis category seems to belong the sword fromTumulus G (blade”s preserved length 0.68 m,width 0.035-0.04 m) (Wace and Thompson1911-12, 20).Three pieces from Pyres IX, XIV and XV,though described as knives by the excavators,could be classified as hacking-swords (length0.45-0.49 m, including the hilt) (Wace andThompson 1911-12, 14, 17-18, 26, fig. 15.6-7). All three of them have single-edged blades, with a convex cutting edge and a very
Fig. 1: Map of Thessaly showing main sites discussed in text.Fig. 2: Swords from Halos Tumulus A(after Kilian-Dirlmeier 1993, taf. 47).
slightly recurved back. Snodgrass, whoclassifies them as Type II swords, points outthat “it is not clear that these are in factweapons of war…” (Snodgrass 1964, 100).Parallels are known from Chauchitza, Verginaand Crete, while a smaller specimen from thePG Kerameikos Grave 28, seems to be thelikely ancestor for this type (Snodgrass 1964,100; 1971, 274).From the other three excavated tumuli,several swords have also been reported but theexcavators do not provide us with a detaileddescription, except that some of them are of the Naue II type with “fish-tail”-shaped hilts(Malakasioti 1997, 192-93).For the tholos tombs at Volos-Kapakli thereports only mention that numerous ironswords were found among other weapons,without giving any description of them(Arvanitopoulos 1914, 141; Kilian-Dirlmeier1993, 113). Finally, cist graves 37 and 40 atKrannon yielded one sword each (
 A. Delt.
38,206-207), while two stray finds are reportedfrom Sarantaporo (preserved length 0.45 m,width 0.04 m) and Pythio (
 A. Delt.
42, 281). With the exception of the three single-edged examples from Halos, all the Thessalianswords fall into Snodgrass” Type I, withparallels coming from mainland Greece,Crete, Euboea, Samos, Rhodes, Cyprus andthe Near East (Snodgrass 1964, 93-98;Catling and Catling 1980, 253-254).
Under this heading we include allspecimens measuring 0.355 m or less, looselyfollowing the classification proposed byGordon (1953, 67). A differentiation betweenknives, daggers and dirks is not pursued fortwo reasons: first, both daggers and dirksimply weapons with two-edged blades thatmainly differ from swords in terms of size. Aswe are going to see, almost all of theThessalian examples (for which we havesufficient information) are single-edged.Second, most of the material is eitherunpublished or inadequately described,making such a distinction unfeasible.Of the 43 knives recovered inThessaly, only three are of bronze. The latterwere found in a Geometric grave at Dimini(two examples) and in the PG tholos tomb 5at Sesklo (Arvanitopoulos 1915, 155-156;1911: 299). Bronze swords and knives are notunknown in the EIA, as the evidence fromplaces like Vergina, Orchomenos, Samos and Vrokastro indicates (Snodgrass 1964, 94, 96-97, 103 with references). Iron knives comefrom the sites of Homolion, Pharsala, Kastri Agias, Krannon, Theotokou, Argyropouli,Marmariani, Velestino-Chloe and Halos.Sufficient information is, however, availableonly for those coming from a tholos tomb atChloe, tholos tombs VI and I at Marmarianiand Tumulus A at Halos.From the only published tholos tomb atChloe two knives are reported (BE 8778,8776) (Arachoviti 1994, 133-134). BE 8778,which was found complete, has a length of 0.242 m and greatest width of 0.031 m. Its blade is triangular in section and at the hiltthere are traces of the wooden hilt-plates. BE8776 is similar, although smaller, with apreserved length of 0.103 m and greatestwidth of 0.021 m. Traces of wood and clothare preserved at the hilt. Similar knives arereported from Vergina (Andronikos 1969,268-269, figs. 104.AAI and 105.TX).Tholos VI at Marmariani contained a knifewith a present length of 0.14 m and greatestwidth of ca. 0.02m. The handle and the tip of the blade are missing. The single edge of the blade is convex (Heurtley and Skeat 1930-31,36, fig. 15.23). Fragments of three similarknives have also been found. From tholos Icome the fragment of a curved knife withwooden hilt (width ca. 0.015 m) and the tipof a straight knife (Heurtley and Skeat 1930-31, 38).Tumulus A at Halos has yielded 20 iron
knives. All of them are typologically similar,with their length ranging between 0.15 and0.33 m. All are single-edged and werefastened into handles of wood by tangs andiron rivets. The edge of the blade is almoststraight, except for the curve near the tip. Theincurved profile that is observed in some of them, is probably due to long use andrepeated sharpening (Wace and Thompson1911-12, 26). Similar examples come from Athens and Vergina (Andronikos 1969, 268,fig. 104.Z5‚). The three smaller knives(0.15 m long) were found in female pyres,while the rest come from the men”s pyres.For the other sites, the reports onlyprovide us with the number of specimens:Homolion chamber tomb II (one single-edged), Homolion tholos tomb (a fragment)(
 A. Delt.
17, 175-176), cist grave at Pharsala(one) (
 A. Delt.
19, 261), peribolos at Kastri Agias (one) (
 A. Delt.
34, 222), cist grave B atTheotokou (one in fragments) (Wace andDroop 1906-07, 326), a tholos tomb at Argyropouli (one) (
 A. Delt.
51, 373),Krannon cist graves 1 and 37 (two each) and28, 61 (one each) (
 A. Delt.
38, 204, 206,208).
Iron spearheads have been found atHomolion, Sesklo, Kastri Agias, Platykambos,Marmariani, Velestino and Halos. It is verypossible that spearheads have also been foundin the tholos tombs of Nea Anchialos, AgioiTheodoroi and Kapakli, where the reportsmention several iron weapons among theofferings (
 A. Delt.
42, 255;
 A. Delt.
45, 204-205;
 A. Delt.
48, 233). Chamber tomb III atHomolion, a cist grave at Sesklo, the peribolosat Kastri, a cist grave at Platykambos andtholos VI at Marmariani have all yielded aspearhead each (only a fragment from the lastthree), while the settlement at Velestino andthe Halos tumuli provided us with severalexamples (
 A. Delt.
17, 175; Syriopoulos1984, 631;
 A. Delt.
34, 222; Theochari 1964-66, 46, fig. 11.1; Heurtley and Skeat 1930-31,36). Sufficient information is available onlyfor the ten spearheads from Halos Tumulus Aand the four specimens found at thesettlement of Velestino. All of the Halos specimens are socketedand eight of them are almost identical inshape and size (Wace and Thompson 1911-12, 26, fig. 15.5). The socket first tapers andthen widens into a flat, leaf-shaped blade, inone continuous curve. There is no midribpresent. The best-preserved example, whichis 0.34 m long and 0.04 m wide, comes fromPyre XV. This type, Snodgrass” Type Q, is rareand the only known parallels are those fromBassae and Delphi (Snodgrass 1964, 130). Of the remaining two spearheads, one has aslightly broader blade while the other is sodamaged that it cannot be classified. Fortumuli Alpha, Beta and Gamma, thepreliminary reports just mention the presenceof numerous Type J spearheads (Malakasioti1997, 194). This type, which is similar toType E but with longer socket, narrower bladeand sloping instead of rounded “shoulders”,has been characterized by Snodgrass as the“long spear
 par excellence 
” (Snodgrass 1964,123-126).Rescue excavations at the settlement of  Velestino have brought to light four ironspearheads (BE 445, 201, 2652, 481)(Apostolopoulou-Kakavoyanni 1992, 318-319). BE 445 (length 0.163 m, width 0.025m, socket diameter 0.02 m) is leaf-shapedwith a very prominent midrib running acrossits length. This specimen falls into Snodgrass”Type D, with parallels coming fromKerameikos, Nauplion, Delphi, Vitsa andCyprus (Snodgrass 1964, 120-121, fig. 7d).BE 201 (length 0.145 m, width 0.018 m) isalso leaf-shaped with a pointed tip and amidrib. It belongs to Type J (Snodgrass 1964,124, fig. 7h). BE 2652 (length 0.165 m,width 0.022 m) and BE 481 (preserved

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