Wednesday, May 31, 2017

DNA studies of the Ancient Aegyptians

Salvete omnes,
when I was studying at the university I had to read the already very controversial book title Black Athena - it was a required reading and studding its content was like reading the Soviet or Gender Communist works: convoluted, often contrary to reason and fishing for evidence, finally bending it all to the ideological thesis presented by its author.

So finally there is some respite from the racist nonsense of Mr. Berbal and his ilk,  these are newest DNA studies of the material taken from the ancient Egyptians mummies -

 An international team of scientists, led by researchers from the University of Tuebingen and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, successfully recovered and analyzed ancient DNA from Egyptian mummies dating from approximately 1400 BCE to 400 CE [New Kingdom to Roman Period], including the first genome-wide nuclear data from three individuals, establishing ancient Egyptian mummies as a reliable source for genetic material to study the ancient past.

and surprise! surprise! -

 The study found that ancient Egyptians were most closely related to ancient populations in the Levant, and were also closely related to Neolithic populations from the Anatolian Peninsula and Europe. "The genetics of the Abusir el-Meleq community did not undergo any major shifts during the 1,300 year timespan we studied, suggesting that the population remained genetically relatively unaffected by foreign conquest and rule," says Wolfgang Haak, group leader at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena.
figure 3 from this page of the above study
figure 4

figure 5

so they belonged to the Western Asian and European stock...

A succinct study of the New Kingdom Egyptian chariotry - from Matei Tichindelean

Aegyptian chariot from Matei Tichindelean's work

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Rząd koński - Zaruski & Mecnarowski

Salvete omnes,
[in Polish]

Zaruski w 1920 roku
Dwaj Legioniści z 1szego Pułku Ulanów  Mariusz Zaruski, od 1919 dowódca 11tego pułku Ulanów,

Zaruski w jeździe Legionów Polskich
 i  Emil Mecnarowski napisali pracę pt  Rząd koński. Przepisy służbowe. do której to rysunki wykonał Kajetan Stefanowicz.
 Za Internetowym Polskim Słownikiem Biograficznym:
W r. 1916 opracował [E.M] , wspólnie z Mariuszem Zaruskim, podręcznik o charakterze instrukcji pt. Rząd koński przyjęty w W. P. (W. 1919) jako obowiązujący regulamin. Był to pierwszy tego rodzaju podręcznik w polskiej literaturze wojskowej.

Drugi raz wydana ta książeczka została w Warszawie w 1919, na potrzeby rozwijającego się wojska, przede wszystkim jazdy polskiej,  prowadzącego działania wojenne w obronie odrodzonej Polski.
Oto całość ten pracy - wydanie 2gie [w domenie publicznej]:


French army as saviors in Syria and Lebanon 1860AD


almost 157 years ago French emperor Napoleon III sent his troops to save the Christians in Ottoman province of Syria (including Lebanon,) where they were under the direct  assault from their  Druze feudal lords and also local Muslim population as well as the Bedouins and marauding Kurds, trying in vain to protect their own villages and towns ( article from 1860 New York Times ). Historic image of the French troops marching to Damascus. Two books from the period - from 1860 and 1885.

There is some interesting artwork from the era

emir Abdelkader (full name Abdelkader ibn Muhieddine ) ,

an Algerian warlord living in exile in the Ottoman Empire, played a heroic role in saving many Christians (and Europeans) from massacre in Damascus - his letter from 1860 AD - eventually he was praised by the Western leaders for his gallant conduct,  including our president Abraham Lincoln, who gave him these pistols

Perhaps our Western democracies should protect the Christians in Egypt by showing some muscle (we pay so much in our taxes for the military) - the last massacre of the Coptic pilgrims (many children like in Manchester ), including these 8 pilgrims from Illinois, USA, was most heinous.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ottoman Turkish horse stabling and tack from L. Marsigli

Salvete omnes,
in 1682 Habsburg officer and gentleman Luigi Ferdinando Marsigli was taken prisoner during the war with the Ottoman Turks that his employers, Holy Roman Empire, fought against.He spent several years in captivity and being a military man he observed the Ottomans with care and consideration.
Eventually he wrote and illustrated a book aptly titled L'État militaire de l'empire ottoman or Stato militare dell'Imperio Ottomanno  that was published in Amsterdam in 1732.

Let me share with you the following details of his plate on the Turkish cavalry campsite, where horse are kept separated by boards from their food, while they are picketed by their hind leg

where B is a wooden wall constructed from wooden boards, its function to prevent horses getting to their food to quickly and perhaps to prevent horses from fouling their fodder
and E is the picketed horse

also horse tack and aids according to Marsigli

there is one more interesting plate, showing the Tatars crossing a river but we will save it for another day
I have just read that Zbigniew Wodecki, a famous singer-musician from Poland -my favorite of all times is his theme song to Pszczółka Maja , passed away today - pacem aeternam, panie Zbigniewie!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Walter Spitzer and his own Holocaust

this post is not about the horses or riders.
It is about a book I finished reading yesterday.

Walter Spitzer (Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial & Museum has a page about him, and Buchenwald Museum  too) is a painter and sculptor living in France who wrote a book about his life  between the early 1930s through the summer of 1945.
The book I devoured like a hungry wolf.
It is titled Sauve par le dessin ( Saved by the  drawing - I read the Polish edition, Uratowany rysunkami, to my knowledge there is not English edition) and it is not a simple memoir.
For Walter is a Holocaust survivor who spent his best boyhood  years in various Nazi German controlled places - starting with this ancestral home in Cieszyn, Poland, through a shtetl & ghetto in Gross (German added post 1939) Strzemieszyce, then Auschwitz III, then the 12 day death-march, then Gross Rossen, then the death-train, then Buchenwald and then the escape into the woods(amidst fighting between the American forces and German defenders) from anther forced march to the final liberty brought to him and his friend Coco by the American Army.

I am not a novice to the genre of Holocaust memoirs and recollections, but it has been some time since I read one of those - nota bene it was Byłam sekretarką Rumkowskiego: dzienniki Etki Daum edited by Elzbieta Cherezinska(2008 ed), about the Litzmannstadt [Lodz] ghetto daily live by the secretary to Chaim M. Rumkowski, the infamous (not only in my opinion) commander-in-chief of the ghetto.
So when I read the cover description and skimmed some first pages into the book, including Eli Wiesel recommendation-introduction, I thought that this was  one rather late memoir, after all  this author was 77 years old in 2004, sort of another late bloomer to the now revered Jewish past but with much established Holocaust industry, but when started reading the book I could not put it down.

And it is mostly because it is about this Polish-Jewish boy success, about the spectacular survival against all odds and about tons of Good Fortune in the world gone German Nazi pitiless, and to the core. Not a small part was played by the fact that Walter had been educating himself all that horrible days, months, and years, not only in the art of survival but also in art history and various aspects of fine art - drawing, photography, sculpture, painting etc

So if you think you have it bad and are in need of motivational or inspiration, do read this book.

Walter does his storytelling with such an ease and poise  as with a stroke of a pen, pencil or brush - one might say: after all his trade has been fine arts.
He does not stop and writes about intimate aspects of his own life and lives of others, so the memoirs is much more personal and very coming of age at the same time.
 They (museums, galleries etc) write about him that the Communists at the Buchenwald KL saved him, but he had had to come to them first, and to do so he crossed, at the peril of immediate death, the gate between the death and political camps there, putting all his life and the lie of his friend Coco in the hands of good Fortune. It apparently worked. He made good his promise to record the Hell by his pencil etc - eg this one.
There are very personalized pictures as well - some etching and drawings by Walter, his own family and boyhood pictures, there is one of smiling beautiful Pola (you need to read the book to find out what role this photo played), then the American soldiers and unpublished photos from Buchenwald KL. 

nota bene good reader tell US Holocaust Museum to get some money to translate this book into English pronto.

There is a video about Walter, where he talks in his own English about this life and art, and there is also his Facebook page. So you can explore away about this little Polish boy from Cieszyn who made it alive and kicking from the German death machinery.

There are few horses that appear in his book too - one is a picture of their defunct stable with dusty horse tack at his home ground floor before the World War II, then 1938 and  the Polish army cavalry and officer marching into Czechoslovakia to take Zaolzie; then 5 years later during the infamous death-march from Blachhammer to Gross-Rossen  Walter drew a big cart horse (in his estimation it was a loot from some French or Belgian farm) in some snowed-in German village farm, the sketch  he did for the German farmer in exchange for some bread and margarine given to him upon inspection and final approval by the farmer.
Finally there is a wild joyride within the American-occupied zone, when he was lent a saddled cavalry horse to ride across the woods and mountains. The horse was Hungarian like its owner, they are being part of the Hungarian Cavalry division awaiting return to Hungary after the Nazi Germany capitulation.  Walter did not knw how to ride but he did it anyway. Sweet ignorance and dexterity displayed by many a boy then, albeit this boy was special, he just survived the Hell and came back.
I strongly recommend this book, oh, I do!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Overarm Vs. Underarm Spear and Shield

detail - VIIIc BC Krater MET
I am reading the new book by the Salimbeti & D'Amato team  - Early Iron Age Greek Warrior 1100-700 BC.
The study contains the set of 8 plates by Italian maestro Giuseppe Rava, most likely painted under a careful guidance of the writers.

Chiggi vase
the 7th (g) plate contains a scene of a Spartan warrior fighting an Argive (from Argos) warrior with another warrior fallen (p. 57). It is a scene of short spear/ heavy javelin play.

Achilles death
 I have got interested in seeing an actual demonstration of the ancient spear fighting techniques ( overarm vs. underarm Spear and Shield ) while in armor and on foot, so I searched and watched several videos, and here I have them presented, these are by two practitioners of the European martial arts:
Schola gladiatoria [link]
Thegn Thrand 1  [link]
Thegn Thrand 2 [link]
The Athenian military during the classical age - post-Solon reforms - short intro from MET.  Beautiful hippeis cavalry horses in stable scene from the VI c BC.

 Hoplite fighting gallery from Wikicommons
Thegn's video on ancient Bronze age hand to hand combat arms - curved Caananite khopesh and the Ewart Park ( Leaf shaped sword ), and the Naue II ( Straight style sword ).

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed - videos

Let us pivot a bit from Central Europe and our early modern warrior-cavalryman winged hussar  to the eastern Mediterranean, into the world of the great Bronze Age civilizations that around 1200 BC collapsed suddenly under the might of many factors that apparently overcame  them at once, or how it appears to have taken place according to the researchers.

Naturally I have a lot of interest in the Bronze Age civilization and studied it a bit at the university, especially interesting is the moment in history when we see the  arrival of the chariot and horse in the eastern and southern Mediterranean states like Egypt, Canaan, Anatolia and so on around XVII century BC.
The collapse of the Bronze Age civilisation [here a short entry from the Ancient Warfare magazine ] is very intriguing.
I am most interested in the Indo-Europeans: for obvious reasons the people who domesticated the horse, invented two-wheel chariotry and trained horses for war and hunt.

the Hittites, [there are two short  studies on their military - Hittite Warrior, and Hittite Fortifications 1650-700], and the Bible History Daily has this article on the last days of Hattusa.

and proto-Greeks also known as

the Mycenaeans (study of their citadels Mycenaean Citadels c. 1350-1200 BC and another study about Troy's fortifications)
and Sea Peoples,

Egyptians and their New Kingdom are also of great interest to me as well, their horses and chariotry especially - short study on their military here - with great Angus McBride plates, also there is a much better book on the New Kingdom's military.

 Also the Canaanites and Minoans hold my interest, the Mionoans famous for the Minotaur myth and the bull dancers (and their figurative art in general)

  since they all had much developed horse culture  and chariotry.
There is this rather very weak study of the Bronze Age chariotry.
Previously I have read Robert Drews' books on the subject
* The End of The Bronze Age: Changes in Warfare and the Catastrophe ca. 1200 B.C [a review by D. Gill ]
* The Coming Of The Greeks: Indo-European Conquests in the Aegean and The * Near East [a review in French by H. Cassimatis ]
* Early Riders: The Beginnings of Mounted Warfare in Asia and Europe [a review by Denis Sinor ] but would like to read this one.
Also, Nicolas Grguric study
* The Mycenaens c. 16500-1100 BC
and lately there are newer and much more radical and exciting studies by  Raffaele D'Amato & Andrea Salimbeti [messer Andrea fabulous website]  :
  * Bronze Age Greek Warrior 1600-1100 BC.
 *  Sea Peoples of the Bronze Age Mediterranean c.1400 BC-1000BC.

Going back to the tittle work, the 1177BC author Eric H. Cline was recorded giving these lectures on the very subject:
video from 2015 [link]
video from 2016 [link]
Yale lecture  [link]
Getty Villa lecture [link]
Sailing the Wine Dark Seas  - another lecture [link]

 One of my more favorite books as per reconstructions is the work by Peter Connolly on the ancient world of Odysseus and Achilles.

a different lecture on the same subject - Bronze Age collapse

..and do read (Chapman's translation) or read and listen to the Iliad - eg this recording of Buckley's translation  (also can be view in a form of graphic story telling  ) and the Odyssey.