The Issue of Weapons Part 2

James Thomas
Aug 5, 2011 · 6 min read

The following Figures .32. to .44. except .40. & .41. & .45. are from The Sea Peoples and Their World: A Reassessment (University Museum Monograph, 108)

Figure.32. A comparison with The Rapier Sword in Figure.30 with what looks like a Round-Shouldered-Type Sword.

Figure.33. Sea Peoples Warrior grasping a Short Horned Sword typical of the Lion Hunt Scene Dagger found at Mycenae.

Figure.34. Sea Peoples Warriors brandishing a sword similar to the Lion Hunt Dagger.

Figure.35. Note the Warrior underneath the ship’s keel and the type of sword he is brandishing.

Figure.36. An enlargement of Figure35. With another Sea Peoples Warrior in the top right-hand corner grasping a Horned Short Sword..

Figure.37. A close-up view of the sword held by the warrior in Figure.36.

Figure.38. Another Horned Short Sword Worn Across the chest and peculiar to all Sea Peoples Warriors, Egyptian Mercenaries/Allies alike.

Figure.39. A less obvious and very obscured example of a Horned Short Sword.

These horned swords with their long and short straight edges, even in their less obvious forms, appear throughout the naval battle scene and are produced as deliberately as the bird-headed motifs for the stern and bow of their ships as are the unique head gear and body armour that the sea peoples wear.

The statement made by these Scenes at Medinet-Habu are not generalised pieces of over glorified art, they are a statement on behalf of the artists whom produced them that say — look at our work, see how well we know our subject.

One interesting point to note is the complete absence of the Bow Among the sea Peoples. There is no doubt a very strong presence of the bow in the Greek Legends, how Odysseus uses his legendary recurved bow, a gift some time before, from the god Apollo, to slay the suitors of his wife, Paris the archer who slays the Achaean hero Achilles with an arrow to the heal, guided by the god Apollo whose chosen weapon was the bow, and the bow of Herakles given into the custody of the Greek hero Piloktetes before the great heroes death, which is the same weapon used to kill Laomedon, Priam’s father, and the only weapon that was foretold would give the Achaeans victory over Troy and used on Many times by Herakles throughout his labours.

The bow is repeated throughout Mycenaean culture examples of Lion hunts and early representations of Mycenaean siege warfare, jewellery and so forth, to name but a few, but nowhere do we see it represented in use by the Sea Peoples.

Figure.40. Sea Peoples Chariots Note the Three-Man Configuration, bow or javelin case and six-spoked wheel which typical of Egyptian chariot wheel configuration (From Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands, The : In the Light of Archeological Discovery

by Yigael Yadin).

Even when we see them using chariots so similar in their appearance to Egyptian chariots it begs the question did the sculptures use artistic licence when no evidence as to a clear description of the Sea Peoples chariot remained? Clearly in the Land Battle Scenes no attempt is given to showing the bow.

Although we cannot conclusively deduce that they did not use the bow, it’s universal use throughout all cultures in the region is undeniable, it seems strange that an army using seaborne operations and also obviously land migration through necessity, is not represented in the slightest with the use of the bow. Where as with the Egyptians it’s in the hands of almost every soldier.

The combination of round bossed shields with a central grip and a strap for slinging onto his back, possible bronze segmented body armour and a variety of swords to choose from had a particular form of practised warfare which utilised these weapons differently than other such cultures.

. The Central Shield-Grip with Double Javelins/Spears is a recurrent theme amongst the Sea Peoples Arms & Armour (From Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands, The : In the Light of Archeological Discovery

by Yigael Yadin)..

It is possible that the two javelin-like spears carried by the sea peoples in combination with these short straight-edged and horned rapier -like swords was used similarly to that of the Roman Legionary, as the armies closed for battle the legionaries would loose first one the the other javelin to break up the charge of the enemy and create gaps in the enemies formation so well suited to exploitation by the Gladius — Scutum combination and tactics specifically designed by the Romans and used so effectively.

Figure.42. The Central Shield-Grip is plainly evident in the Sea Battle Scenes.

In fact if you look at pre-classical Greek armies especially those represented on the Chigi Vase you’ll see that the early Greek phalanx used both standard long spear and a smaller javelin, it would not only be dangerous and highly impracticable for two phalanx formations to clash head on whilst holding effectively two spears but the crush of two phalanxes would make it impossible to use at all thus requiring the Hoplite to exchange a murderous volley of javelins within striking distance of the enemy before closing formation and charging the enemy line, spears raised, much for the same purpose as the Later Roman legion practised. This is seen nowhere else and is depicted nowhere else to the conclusion must be who did use such tactics and where was such a need most prevalent and well established.

Figure.43. Here a Sea Peoples Warrior carries his shield on his back with Neck-Strap clearly visible across his chest.

The use of the two short spears or javelins is also very common to these warriors especially in the Land battles scenes were it is represented in abundance. When you look at Mycenaean art from fragmentary wall paintings at Tiryns you will clearly see a clean shaven warrior or huntsmen carrying two spears. Although not conclusive in itself it is the only other representation which has any real contemporary association to the Mycenaeans, used in war and in hunting where we see two spears carried in the same fashion resting on the shoulder.

Figure.44. Two more examples of the Central Shield-Grip Amongst the Sea Peoples warriors.

Figure.45. A young Warrior From Tiryns Carrying two Spears/Javelin.


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