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Myceneans, Minoans and the Trojan War 1600-800BC

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Early Minoan Infantry: While the chariotry provided the glamour component of Minoan armies it was the footmen who made up the majority troop type. Infantry spearmen made up the bulk, and while they were simply equipped and dressed, they were also very distinctive in appearance. Most infantry wore only a loincloth or went naked. Richer individuals might wear fringed kilts identical to those common throughout the region at the time. Swords were items of some worth and denoted status, so would be confined to chariot crews and spearmen. 

Later Mycenean and the Trojan Wars: During this period, both weapons and armour became lighter, as infantry became more mobile on the battlefield, with javelins replacing long spears, and swords becoming more commonplace and important in the increasingly popular single combats that took place. Defensively, the aim was to utilise lighter, more flexible materials, notably canvas, linen, and leather. Bronze breastplates and scales were still worn, but these were no longer like the awesome Dendra style. Linen greaves became popular as an alternative to the protective boots that were also adopted now that warriors were running about so much more.

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Generally the peoples of this area have a tanned complexion with very dark wavy hair. This was worn long, but they usually shaved their facial hair, as beards were a symbol of royal status in many Bronze Age cultures. Clothing was very much a matter of personal taste and varied depending on the situation, so nudity should not be seen as an indicator of class or status. This continued to be true into the Hellenic period and beyond. 

Three basic styles of clothing were worn throughout the period: a simple loincloth, a fringed kilt, and a short sleeved tunic. At the most basic level these would be plain off white garments. They could then be dyed (purple, red and green are recorded and/or illustrated) or else bleached white. Decorative embroidery could be added in contrasting colours according to personal taste. Kilts especially could be a real riot of colour. Tunics had bands of colour round their edges and running down sleeves and sides; one example shows an off-white base colour with black trim. Greaves would also appear off-white but could have red decoration on them. Assyrian style woollen socks were also worn towards the end of the period. 

Helmets: The most outstanding examples of helmets are those manufactured from boar tusks. The tusk was split down its length and then the sections were attached to a leather foundation using thongs. The tusks would be a creamy white colour and the exposed thongs of various leather colours, mostly natural but with occasional red or green dye. Crests were horsehair or more pieces of tusk and would be respectively dyed or painted black and/or white. This could give a striped or chequerboard effect. Occasionally the warrior's own hair might be pulled up through the top of the helmet but would appear little different from a horsehair crest.

Later helmets showed more leather and were decorated and strengthened with bronze studs and whole tusks and horns. Once again the leather would usually be left natural brown but could have a red or green dye applied. 

Shields: Minoan and early Mycenean tower shields bore oxhide patterns. The base colour in contemporary depictions is invariably off-white, with random patterns of black, brown and buff. Central spines are buff coloured and the rims yellow (inner) and blue (outer). To achieve the effect of hide patterns first paint the off-white base colour and allow to dry, then take your black, bwon or buff paint and stipple the paint on, keeping it to a well-thinned consistency. Allow it to dry, then repeat the process, but do not paint over the stippled edges of the pattern. This builds up a darker area of colour with edges that resemble those of real hide patterns, where the different coloured hairs mix. You can repeat the process a couple of times for an even more realistic effect. Later period dyplon shields should be treated exactly the same. 

Later period round and crescent shields are a little more difficult to reconstruct accurately. Pictorial evidence shows the inside of such shields to have been a buff colour, but there are a few clear examples of shield faces. They would have had a leather or bronze covering over the face, strengthened with bosses and rivets. Leather would have been the most common material, only richer individuals having bronze examples. No blazons or patterns seem to have been used, so the leather would be either natural, red, or green, and the bronze polished.


Early Minoan chariotry:  These were known as equeta or followers. This arm of the Minoan field force developed along typical Bronze Age lines from around 1600 BC. Usually drawn by teams of two horses (a span) and crewed by a charioteer and a warrior, Minoan chariots were heavier and stronger in construction than contemporary Egyptian and Syrian examples, having more in common with Hittite and Anatolian types. This was probably due to the nature of the terrain they fought over, for which a much more robust vehicle was necessary. Chariot crews had varying degrees of defensive equipment that became lighter as time went by. The most famous and distinctive panoply is the Dendra armour, comprising large sheets of bronze, skillfully worked to provide protection from mid-thigh to chin (other parts of the body being covered by the chariot cab and a helmet respectively). Scale and linen armour was also favoured, with the charioteers wearing the lighter varieties which would not impair their mobility. 

Later Myceneans and the Trojan Wars: Around 1300 BC, the style of engagement changed, from one in which solid lines of infantry poked each other with lances while chariot warriors smashed into each other, to something far looser yet more structured. The chariot was no longer simply a 'lance delivery system' but became the battlefield transport of a warrior of heroic status. Followed by his loyal band of retainers, this proud fellow would be driven around looking for opposing proud fellows. They would then issue long and poetic challenges and boasts before laying into each other with suitable maniacal gusto. This game was played for keeps and would only end if/when the hero receiving the most punishment offered a ransom. If this was not acceptable, the fight was to the death!

 

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Materials used in the construction of chariot cabs would be naturally coloured wood and leather. The oxhide coverings can be reproduced by painting them off white, with random patterns of black, brown and buff. To achieve this, first paint the off-white base colour and allow to dry, then take your black, brown or buff paint and stipple the paint on, keeping it to a well-thinned consistency. Allow it to dry, then repeat the process, but do not paint over the stippled edges of the pattern. This builds up a darker area of colour with edges that resembles those of real hide patterns, where the different coloured hairs mix. You can repeat the process a couple of times for an even more realistic effect.

Cabs are often shown to be yellow and black, which could represent different materials, bindings, or paint. The painting of wheels was not uncommon and this would add to the decorative effect of the different colours of wood used. Wheels and cabs could also have expensive inlays of ivory, bronze, ebony, horn, gold, or silver, to show the status of the owner. Spans would be matched pairs of black, brown, or white horses, and their tack might be inlaid with ivory, gold, or silver. 



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