MYCENEANS, MINOANS AND THE TROJAN WAR 1600-800BC

Our Mycenean and Minoan range is suitable for the three main historical periods: the Palace Culture of Minoa between 1600 and 1250BC; the period of change between 1300 to 1200BC, when the Minoans were declining and the early Myceneans gaining a foothold in Asia; and, finally, the later Mycenean period, encompassing the Trojan War. 

All armies of the period used a combination of Chariots and Infantry, which can be found at the following links:

Trojan Wars infantry and command nav image.png                             Trojan Wars chariots nav image.png

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HISTORICAL OVERVIEW

Between 2000 and 1900 BC the Greek-speaking peoples who would come to dominate the area entered the peninsula of Greece. To the south, on the island of Crete, a great culture based around marvellous palaces was developing along Egyptian lines. In Anatolyia the Hurrians were planting the seeds of what would become the Hittite Empire, and merchants from the old Assyrian culture were setting up trading posts. 

The Cretan Palace Culture (referred to as Minoan) set the standard in the Aegean Sea. Their power seems to have been absolute, to the extent that they needed no walls to defend their beautiful palaces and the riches therein. This Palace Culture has survived in the form of clay tablets that tell us in incredible detail (for the Minoans seem to have invented red tape) the daily and seasonal life of Crete

While Minoa maintained her sea power and prestige, her more barbarous and adventurous natives on the Greek mainland (The Myceneans) were on the rise, setting up several colonies in Asia Minor and raiding down the coastline. Then, around 1500 BC, Crete and its Palace Culture were overtaken by some cataclysmic event, probably natural, which snuffed out their society in a very short period of time. Although a few cities may have held to the Palace Culture thereafter, it was the Myceneans who would now make their mark on history, and what a mark it would be. 

 

THE TROJAN WARtrojan1.png

That Troy existed and violent actions took place around the city identified as such is now pretty much accepted as true. That it happened as written in Homer's Illyiad is definitely debatable. What is certain is that Myceneans began to push out from the Greek mainland into Anatolia and to raid down the Aegean coast, formerly protected by the Minoans. So, why Troy? Because it is the one expedition about which written records survive, is the simple answer; but the same scenario was probably acted out up and down the Aegean coast for centuries. The raid on Troy is probably remembered because it was the last in a long line of such actions that deflected criticism of a king at home, gave his army something to do, gained prestige, booty and slaves, and would provide a good song for winter nights. The raids on Troy are dated to the mid 13th Century BC, and archaeological evidence shows civil war and unrest in the Mycenean homelands in about 1230 BC, so Mycenean attention may have been turned inwards just after this last great raid. 

 

Collecting early Minoan armies: The Spear blocks that form the bulk of the army are available in the Command and spearmen packs (TW011,TW012, TW021). Front and rear ranks can be depicted, as can defending and attacking spear blocks. Javelinmen, archers and slingers come from the appropriate packs (TW013, TW014, TW024). Chariots from the period are best depicted using TW031, with two crewmen comprising a chariot driver and a lancer in his Dendra armour. Command chariots can be distinguished by having the full three-figure crew, with a standard taken from the foot command pack.

Early Mycenean chariotry would be similar, but you could begin to mix in the more heavily armoured crews from other chariot packs (TW017, TW018) still retaining the two-strong crew complement for the majority and crews of three or four for the chariots of commanders. Towards the end of this period, the lighter linen armour began to become more popular, and by about 1250 BC the Dendra style had all but fallen out of use.



Collecting a later Mycenean army: The style of fighting changed over time for most Myceneans, so the core of the army would now be the heroic contingents of chariots and javelinmen. Any chariots without crew in Dendra armour can be used. There should be a charioteer and a warrior per vehicle, so use any spare crewmen to add variety to the hero's retainers.

In addition to fighting from his chariot, the hero would often dismount for combat, and many of the heroic characters from the chariots have alternative figures on foot in the Classical Heroes (TW015) & Kings and Heroes (TW025) packs. Well armoured minor nobles would form the front rank of a hero's retainers, and these (TW016, TW022, TW026) can lead the lesser warriors (TW022, TW023) in the wake of their master's chariot. 

Skirmishers were now separated from the main battle-line but had increased in number to the extent that up to 25% of an army could now be light javelinmen, archers or slingers.  

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Achaian alternatives: As the major prosecutors of the siege of Troy, we have more literary descriptions of the Achaian warriors than those of other states, which allows us to model an alternative army. The (in)famous Achilles was an Achaian, and he led his unruly Myrmidons infantry from his chariot (TW027) like other heroes. The Myrmidons are described as fighting in a different fashion from other Mycenean retainers. Their headlong rush and furious assaults remind one of barbarous Celts or Germans, and for that reason you may wish to distinguish them by their fighting ability, and using armoured Warriors and Heroes for Achilles' retainers. 

 

 

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The Pylians: The leader of the Pylians was Old Nestor, and both he and his contingent are described in archaic terms reminiscent of the earlier Minoan period. It is possible that some states held to the old military system longer than others, so the Pylians can be represented by Old Nestor (TW017), Dendra armoured chariotry, and long spearmen in close behind their huge bull-hide shields. 

 

 

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Collecting a Trojan army: Trojan armies were exactly the same as those of the later Myceneans, so will have heroes in chariots, and variously armoured and swiftly moving infantry retainers supported by skirmishers with javelins, bows and slings. The only difference is the addition of two allied troop types: the Lukka, a group of Sea People who can be represented by a unit of these fierce warriors from our Sea People range; and the Thrakes and Kikones, bloodthirsty mountaineers from the kingdoms of Thrace, who added further colour. 

 

Text by Adrian Garbett

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