Thesis abstract ‘The Early Mycenean Army: A Reconstruction of the Equipment, Tactics and Organisation of the Mycenean Army ca 1600–1400 BC’

14th November 2013

Nic Grguric

BA(Hons), Centre for European Studies and General Linguistics, Adelaide, October 2002

Little attempt has been made in the past to comprehensively reconstruct the Mycenaean army. The aim of this research topic was to redress this.

The methodology used in this research project started with the premise that there are and always have been some universal rules which define a soldier’s likely tactical use (his troop type) based upon his weaponry and armour combination. Next a template of the different troop types generally used in the ancient world was created and placed over the known corpus of Mycenaean evidence of weapons and warfare in order to deduce their most likely troop type. Once a warrior’s troop type is determined this can suggest the most likely organisation and social status of this type of warrior.

Analysis of where various types of weapons and armour types first appear in the archaeological record showed that most of what later became characteristics of the early Mycenaean army originated in Minoan Crete. It is argued that Minoan military technology, like other aspects of Minoan culture, was introduced onto the mainland via the process of secondary diffusion where it was rapidly adopted by the Mycenaeans. However, it was also found that the Mycenaeans were also influenced by the military technology of the Near East in addition to indigenous innovations.

Using the methodology described above, many different early Mycenaean troop types were identified, showing that the various types of early Mycenaean warriors known from depictions all corresponded closely with the general characteristics of ancient troop types. This showed that in terms of tactics and organisation the early Mycenaean army was not that different from most other heavy infantry-based ancient armies.

It was shown that the early Mycenaean army was composed of several troop types organised into units and trained to use specific tactics depending on the particular troop type. This research project demonstrated that the early Mycenaean army was actually quite conventional, allowing for differences imposed by the landscape of Greece such as the difference in the use of chariots compared to Egypt and the Near East. These findings stand in contrast to the traditional Homeric view of Mycenaean warfare.

It was also shown that the early Mycenaean army was organised and supplied by a highly centralised, palace-based military bureaucracy. This was based on an analysis of both the troop types themselves and the Linear B tablets and artefacts from Knossos and Pylos.

Furthermore it was demonstrated that in order to field a heavy infantry-based army such as that of the early Mycenaeans, more men than the upper class of a Mycenaean palace-state would have been required. Thus it was argued that the Mycenaean army was composed of men drawn from all levels of society, with those from the lower classes most likely making up the majority of the soldiers.

Grguric, N.
Thesis abstract 'The Early Mycenean Army: A Reconstruction of the Equipment, Tactics and Organisation of the Mycenean Army ca 1600–1400 BC'
2004
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