Battles and Battlefields of Ancient Greece – A Guide to Their History, Topography and Archaeology – Book Review

I received a heavy tome from Pen and Sword books recently and this one is a cracker. It is definitely heavy, weighing in at 1.2kgs and I think the weight is the paper stock used in printing this largely colour work. The basis of this book is a look at ancient battlefields and battles in and around Greece with reference to modern topography. All the battles covered are illustrated with a location map, satellite photographs of the area, many from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), along with any relevant ground based photographs from the authors’ collection.

The USGS maps have battlefield deployments superimposed over the them. As Dr Matthew A. Sears and Dr C. Jacob Butera note in the book’s preface, “This is a book designed for the traveller to Greece, whether the member of a tour group, the independent adventurer, or the curious scholar.” I believe that if one carries this book on tour, your excess baggage charges will increase. However if you have an interest in Ancient Battles and Battlefields or are simply curious to maximise the interesting points from a tour, then this book is worth the effort to lug around.

The book, Battles and Battlefields of Ancient Greece – A Guide to Their History, Topography and Archaeology, by C. Jacob Butera and Matthew A. Sears has been published by Pen & Sword Military. It contains 385 pages, its ISBN is 9781783831869 and it was published on 13 May 2019. It is a cracker of a volume and I have had difficulty putting it down. The writing style of the authors is readable to all and while the subject is wide reaching, the slicing and dicing of their topic has been skilfully performed.

The Introduction discusses the various periods covered by the book with explanations of the Phalanx style and type of warfare, and the armies that used them. It does not restrict itself to simply land battles either but includes some naval warfare – two notable ancient naval battles in particular. The Introduction then discusses briefly Ancient Greek and Roman Warfare, splitting the introduction into:

  • The Archaic and Classical Periods
    • The Hoplite Phalanx
    • Cavalry and Light-Armed Infantry
    • Greek Naval Warfare
  • The Hellenistic Period and Roman Middle Republic
    • The Macedonian Army
    • The Roman Manipular Legion
    • Phalanx vs Legion
  • The End of the Roman Republic
    • The Roman Army of the Late Republic
    • Roman Naval Warfare

There are photos from various museums and collections illustrating items through there as well with items such as, for example, the Lenormant Relief from the acropolis Museum depicting a trireme and its rowers. This section is then concluded with a list of Further Reading covering the topics – and unlike many book lists and bibliographies, this comes with comments. So, for example, the following entry:

Kagan, D., and Viggiano, G.F. (eds), Men of Bronze: Hoplite Warfare in Ancient Greece (Princeton, 2013). — The best resource on the debate surrounding the nature of hoplite warfare, with contributions from the leading voices in the debate

Other entries are similarly marked.

The Book is then divided into four main parts with each part covering three to seven battles for that geographic area:

  • Athens and Attica
    1. The Battle of Marathon, 490 BCE
    2. The Battle of Salamis, 480 BCE
    3. The Battle of Piraeus/Mounichia, 403 BCE
  • Boeotia and Central Greece
    1. The Battle of Thermopylae, 480 BCE
    2. The Battle of Artemisium, 480 BCE
    3. The Battle of Plataea, 479 BCE
    4. The Battle of Delium, 424 BCE
    5. The Battle of Coronea, 394 BCE
    6. The Battle of Leuctra, 371 BCE
    7. The Battles of Chaeronea, 338 and 86 BCE
  • Northern Greece
    1. The Battle of Amphipolis, 422 BCE
    2. The Battle of Cynoscephalae, 197 BCE
    3. The Battle of Pydna, 168 BCE
    4. The Battle of Pharsalus, 48 BCE
    5. The Battle of Philippi, 42 BCE
  • The Peloponnese and Western Greece
    1. The Battles of Naupactus, 429 BCE
    2. The Battle of Pylos, 425 BCE
    3. The Battles of Mantinea, 418 and 362 BCE
    4. The Battle of the Nemea River, 394 BCE
    5. The Battle of Actium, 31 BCE

Each of the battle chapters is then divided into:

  • General Map of the Battle Location on the Chapter facing page
  • Introduction — brief description of the location and the events around the battle
  • Directions to the Site — how to get there and landmarks
  • Historical Outline of the Battle — details of the battle from the primary sources and archeological studies including the USGS maps of the area of the battle with deployments and movements superimposed
  • The Battle Site Today — what the site looks like today including photographs of items of interest
  • Further Reading — this section is broken up into two main areas – Historical Sources, and Modern Sources with the Modern Sources including books and articles

Lastly the book contains a useful index.

Each chapter is about 15 to 20 pages long, a perfect length for reading over a cup of coffee or when there is an hour or so spare. With the references added however, the temptation is to read the chapter then read back in the primary sources but with a greater understanding of the topography of the battle.

The authors are both academics, Dr C. Jacob Butera is an assistant professor of Classics at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and Dr Matthew A. Sears is an associate professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of New Brunswick in Canada.

This is a book is simply great. If you ever wanted a general reference for the battlefields of Ancient Greece, this is the one. It is a bonus that it is clearly written and well illustrated with maps, satellite photographs and photographs of items of interest remaining on the battlefield, and where each chapter identifies the primary sources for the battle as well as modern source material. Well recommended. It is also available in digital form which does lighten the physical load a little.

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The Perfect Captain – Wargames Rules

I have tried some of the Perfect Captains rules before and enjoyed. In fact, I seem to recall interacting with them what seems a lifetime ago. I thought I would give a shout out to them however here, especially as they have a number of different types of rules for different periods. I can recommend getting into them, most work well and those that are a little obtuse become clear after a little reexamination.

I am thinking of using these for my hoplite project, I’ll let you know how that goes.

Do slip out and have a look, the Perfect Captain.

Slingshot 323 – Arrived in Manila

Rather, it arrived in the office today. It arrived in Manila on March 28 then spent until April 4 making its way the 5 kilometres from the airport to Makati where the office is. Still, it is an anticipated read every two months and with postal times, it gives me a wargaming fix between the digital editions of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy turning up.

Also, in perfect timing, it arrived immediately before lunch, so it was sandwiches today, manageable in one hand and no dangling bits flicking chilli sauce everywhere and spotting magazine and shirt. Sandwiches also left one hand free.

So, what is in this read?

The issue starts off with a continued “fiery” discussion of the New Chronology of Egyptian Dynasties as well as the Jebel Barkal temple. Both these discussions have been moved to the SOA forum to keep relevance and stop us all hanging on for two months for the counter-arguments or the gracious folding of a position.

Aaron Bell discusses the Battle of Thapsus between Caesar and the Pompeian forces there led by Scipio and Juba. While a battle I knew of, for some reason I had never really got around to reading about it in detail. Lunch stretched a little past the hour today.

Of particular interest to me is David Kay’s use of 3D printing to produce 6mm accessories. Now that honourable number two son has a 3D printer and is printing Dystoptian War type vessels I may pay more attention that when he is telling me than in the past.

The refighting of the Battle of Arausio with DBA from Andy Offer was also interesting to me.

Of a high interest as well is the item by Periklis Deligiannis in the Battle of the Kalka River. After a fair time living in Mongolia I still have an interest in Mongol goings on. I also have this battle at home in a board game which I have not even punched the counters on. I may get that down off the shelf this weekend – the article is tonight’s post dinner reading.

Also including in Slingshot 323 is:

  • Over by Vespers: a Mediaeval Scenario Game – by Anthony Clipsom
  • Inventing Early Bronze Age Scenarios – by Steven Neate
  • The Long, the Short and the Flat: the Origin of the Longbow – by Anthony Clipsom
  • Slingshot Figure Reviews: 15mm early Imperial Roman Equites Auxiliares – by Mark Grindlay
  • Slingshot Figure Reviews: 28mm Viking Age Scots – by Thane Maxwell
  • Slingshot Book & Game Reviews: Roman Heavy Cavalry (1) – by Duncan Head
  • Slingshot Book & Game Reviews: Ptolemy I Soter, a Self-made Man – by Jim Webster
  • Slingshot Book & Game Reviews: Pandemic, Fall of Rome – by Gavin Pearson

If you are not a member of the Society of Ancients but have an interest in Ancient History and in particular wargaming, the Society’s membership fee is well worth the cost. Recommended.

Recent Book Arrivals

I had a couple of packages arrive recently with the odd book to read. OK. so there was a lot. Some interesting titles in there however and I wuill get around to reviewing when I get a chance (which means when I actually finish reading a few. The temptation is to read them concurrently rather than serially. I shall try and resist that temptation.

The first batch will be pretty quick reading:

The second batch will tale a wee bit longer I will admit:

Mind you, I started on the second batch, in particular Steve Dunn’s. Southern Thunder, The Royal Navy and the Scandinavian Trade in World War One, which frankly I new absolutely nothing about. I can see some great scenarios for a wargame or three there as well as the need to acquire some more ships. Navwar order coming up.

Battlefields in Miniature – Paul Davies – Review

Every so often I buy a book forgetting that I already have that book on the bookshelf. Friend Anthony suffers the same problem from time to time and as a result  we both get additions to our libraries as we give the other our duplicated purchases. These books are, in many cases, in areas where we normally do not read (enjoy the naval history books when I get them to you Anthony!). 🙂

One such book was Battlefields in Miniature by Paul Davies, published in 2015 by Pen and Sword Books. It looks like the hardback version of this book is out of print however Pen and Sword have an ePub and Kindle version listed (ePub, Kindle) in their catalogues.

There are a number of books published on wargames terrain making, many from the makers of various figure ranges and while normally books like this only provide a passing interest to me, this is one book I will refer to again and again, especially as I pursue my hobby here in the Philippines where there are limited wargaming clubs.

So, why this book? The 287 glossy colour pages make the book enjoyable to flick through. Better though is the organisation f the book with 18 chapters dealing with generalities, tools, materials and then a discussion of 17 types of terrain. The chapters included are:

  1. Welcome to the Workshop
  2. What’s Everyone  Else Doing?
  3. Before  You Get Started
  4. Terrain Cloths
  5. Terrain Tiles
  6. Custom or Sculpted terrain
  7. Rivers and Ponds
  8. Islands, Cliffs and Hills
  9. Trees
  10. Walls
  11. Fences and Screens
  12. Hedges
  13. Gates
  14. Cultivated Fields
  15. Roads
  16. Bridges
  17. Defences
  18. Buildings

The author, Paul Davies, will be recognised by many for his regular series of “how-to” articles in Wargames Illustrated. Throughout this book however he has combined techniques he had illustrated before and added new ones such that most wargamers should have little or no trouble constructing their own terrain by following his guidelines presented here.

As mentioned, I have the hardback version and it looks like only ePub and Kindle versions are currently available from Pen  and Sword.  I certainly will unashamedly be stealing some of Davies’ ideas when constructing my next batch of terrain and I am glad to have the book in my library (thank you Anthony). I do recommend this book to wargamers.

Christmas Stocking Fillers

Christmas has gone and so has New Year’s Eve. I avoid making New Year’s Resolutions, partly because reflecting on what you are doing and what you will do is something that should be an ongoing process. Having said that, in nautical terms, i am getting very broad across the beam although I have a good deal of ballast to counter that. It is time to slim up so that is one task on my 2017 and beyond.

Work also will be interesting this year as one contract finishes and I chase another. I will be looking for something to start around July or so.

I did reflect on those things that went well and those that failed in the year just past, however, a product of the odd beer and a relatively quiet New Year’s Eve back in Manila. It is, however, time to think about the plans for the coming year, doubly so as a week has already gone.

#fails

Simply … I did next to no wargaming, or painting. I also managed to add another few kilograms overall to my already portly body shape. I kept getting great ideas, especially for wargaming projects, but managed to not spend anytime actually starting any of them. Worst of all, I missed getting back to Oz and visiting mother for about 8 months, which was very frustrating.

#ftw

There were some high spots however. Settled well into the second year of working in the Philippines and had the project progressing well. I also managed to read a lot, thank goodness for Kindle and a decent smartphone – I get to read almost anywhere.

#christmas_gifts

#books

So, as I had a little spare case this year, I spoiled myself with some Christmas gifts, and they will form the basis of the 2017 wargaming efforts.

Warship 2014
Warship 2014

First off was the two Warships I had missed from 2014 and 2015. I had not had a chance to purchase these before but they went into my Christmas stocking this year (it was a big stocking). Warship 2014 is the 36th edition and contains a variety of articles including a detailed technical description of the Queen Elizabeth (the UK’s only aircraft carrier – I guess because the French had one); details of Germany’s Braunschweig and Deutschland classes; the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour; IJN armoured cruisers; the escape of the Jean Bart from Saint-Nazaire; the submarine Mariotte; the IJN light carrier Ryûjô; Russia’s turret frigates, the Admiral Lazarev and Admiral Spiridov; and some other articles.

Warship 2015
Warship 2015

Warship 2015 is the first I have seen available in a Kindle format. It was tempting to acquire the Kindle Version, especially as it was half the price of the printed version, but I just could not give up the feel of the paper versions of this publication yet. This issue contains among other items, the Battleships of the Patrie Class; Postwar Weapons in the Royal Navy; the Tragedy of the Submarine Mariotte; Developments in Modern Carrier Aviation; and an early surface engagement between British and Japanese surface forces in WW2. I am looking forward to finishing Warship 2014 to get into Warship 2015.

Warship 2016 - New Cover Format
Warship 2016 – New Cover Format

Warship 2016 is the first of the recent series to come without a dust jacket (why did they call them dust jackets?). It long the previous 37 editions is a mix of different articles concerning naval matters from various periods of essentially 20th and 21st Century history.

This edition has articles on the Bougainville colonial sloops; an Italian colonial sloop Eritrea; the Japanese Asashio class destroyers; Fugas class minesweepers; divisional tactics at the Battle of Jutland and the conclusion to the Naval War in the Adriatic theater in WWI. There is also a piece on the use of ‘highball” on a ship – from the target ship’s perspective, in this case the French battleship Courbet.

#rules

DBA Version 3.0
DBA Version 3.0

I finally got around to acquiring a copy of De Bellis Antiquitatis, my favourite ancient wargaming rules. Plans for 2017 include not just learning these but getting some games in. I have a number of armies in Manila in 6mm and as the playing area is 2-foot square (60cm x 60cm) I also have the space to game.

This will likely make a nice project for 2017. More on that later in a separate post. I can. however, see my 6mm Numidians and 6mm Romans coming out for some early games and also provide an incentive for me to complete my DBA 6mm terrain pieces.

Imperial Skies - I was not part of the kickstarter but I do like the rules
Imperial Skies – I was not part of the kickstarter but I do like the rules

I also ordered copy of Imperial Skies from Brigade Models in the UK.

I had not been part of the kickstarter but these rules look to be a good alternative to Aeronef. I also acquired the dice and turn rulers.

#figures

Ros and Heroics 6mm (1/300th scale) Poles
Ros and Heroics 6mm (1/300th scale) Poles

I purchased some opposition for my 1/300th scale modern Danes. These are in the form of some Heroics and Ros 1/300th scale Poles. We will have sometime this year some T-55s out against some Centurions. This will be part of a separate little project, part of which will be to complete the Danes and relocate them from mother’s garage to the Philippines. These will be used with Cold War Commander. I must admit, whilst the GHQ castings are superb detail wise, I still like the Heroics and Ros for wargames figures.

Aeronefs ... lots of them!
Aeronefs … lots of them!

Naturally, having purchased Imperial skies one needed some Aeronefs to go along with the new rules. Brigade Models Christmas discount helped me to acquire Argentinian, Brazilian and BENELUX fleets for this game and for use with Aeronef as well. I also acquired some Italian ‘nefs in the purchase along with some Russians to round out my Peshawar project, if I ever get back to that.

I really am looking forward to getting some paint on these models.

Baccus 6mm ECW Boxed Set
Baccus 6mm ECW Boxed Set

Last of the stocking fillers was the Baccus 6mm English Civil War boxed set. This consists of butt-loads of figures, bases, buildings and Polemos rules. I will admit up front that I purchased these to play with the Impetus Rules however the beauty of the Polemos basing is that I can also use these as based for bopth Polemos and Impetus.

Another project for 2017 for later description.

Overall, Santa was very kind to me at Christmas, as well he should have been!

De Bellis Antiquitatis 3.0

DBA3Finally, I received my copy of De Bellis Antiquitatis version 3.0 (DBA 3.0). Of course, ordering it was a joy but receiving it was a bit of a trial. Ordered and paid for through Amazon UK, the book was dispatched air mail on 4 November 2014. Judging by the Post Office stamp on the parcel, it arrived in Manila on 5 December, a full month later. Eight days was the turnaround to Kuala Lumpur so obviously the flight from KL to Manila takes 22 days.

It then took from 5 December to 12 December to work its way though the Philippines Post Office and for me to get a card to collect the goods from then Post Office. I collected the rules today.

Whilst I can’t understand why the Philippines Post Office does not just deliver books as there is no duty payable on them, I can understand it taking 7 days to get the notice to me as there was a distraction called Typhoon Ruby here so I won’t complain about that last delay.

Still, it’s good to have a meaty read for the soon-to-be-flight back to Oz for Christmas. From what I have seen so far, I am looking forward to playing with these rules in then future.

Philippine History – Now That’s Frustrating

I was in the National Bookstore again today searching for a book on a topic near and dear to the heart of me, history. Ancient history to be accurate. Philippine ancient history to be really accurate. From what I can see, Philippine History only seems to start around 1581 with the arrival of a Jesuit.

I kept checking history books and apart from being filled with what seemed to be polemic and chapters on how wonderful Filipinos are, some even had chapters on Jewish inventions, like Google, for goodness sake, in a book on Philippines History. There was nothing I would describe as objective history and certainly nothing on life here before the Jesuits.

Now I will admit I was only having a quick scan of the books, scanning the odd chapter and the table of contents but what I saw was not really all that encouraging for a view of life in ancient times. The word “pre-history” turned up a lot to describe everything before the Jesuits as no one could write then and the most useful thing I learned was that Barangay may have referred to a boat (thank you Jesuits for that piece of information) and four Filipinos turned up in Japan (two blokes and two ladies) in the 600s or 800s C.E., and they were not the first singing group to go there!

I would be happy if someone could point me to a decent history of the early Philippines but so far everything I’ve seen suggests that this may not be all that likely to find.

I think I need to find a bigger bookshop.

DBA Version 3.0 – on the way

DBA 3.0 - on the way!
DBA 3.0 – on the way!

I spent 10 minutes over coffee this morning at the office and got around to ordering DBA 3.0. It is the first book I’ve ordered for delivery in Manila so I am curious to see whether there are duties payable or not.

There are a couple of other books (actual ones with paper) that I want to get but I think for that order I will have them sent to Mum’s in Oz and pick them up over Christmas.

In the meantime, I’m starting to think about DBA 3.0 seriously now and perhaps a December competition in Kuala Lumpur on the way home to Oz for Christmas!

Field of Glory On-line — A Poor Replacement for the Gun Bar

My left overtakes Anthony's right at the end (my troops look darker)
My left overtakes Anthony’s right at the end (my troops look darker)

I’m now in Manila and the Gun Bar is firmly located in Singapore for the foreseeable future. How ever will I get my regular dose of beating up on Anthony? Simple really. Field of Glory On-line. Neither of us really likes Field of Glory rules but the on-line version has us not worrying so much about the rules as everything is resolved internally, in the computer’s memory.

The other down side is that it is impossible to determine if there is any dice feng shui, something we have got used to at the Gun Bar.

We just finished a game, 800 points a side and therefore a big game. We tend to start one big (800 point) digital army game and one scenario game (with both sides being played). The scenario games can be quite challenging. When we both lose the same side, it does suggest that the scenario is unbalanced.

Anthony's left has somewhat redeemed the failure of his right.
Anthony’s left has somewhat redeemed the failure of his right.

The last digital game we played however was from the Eternak Empire Group. I took the Ottoman out against the German knights led Knights Army. The two illustrations here are the position at the end. My left flank had overwhelmed and broken his right flank whilst his left flank had achieved the same result with my right. I had, however, manager to secure sufficient casulaties in the Knight to win.

The Ottoman Forced are shaded slightly.

We are in the process now of starting another game – this time my Sassanians are shaping up against a Principate Roman force.

BANG ON!