Saturday, February 4, 2012

Osprey's Bronze Age Greek Warrior


I've been laid up this week after surgery on my ankle, and I used the time to catch up on some of my reading. The first book on the stack was this entry from Osprey's warrior series.

I picked up this book after reading an altercation on TMP over the artwork. I have a long standing interest in all things Greek, and a series of lectures on classical archaeology (including discussion of Heinrich Schliemann's digs at Hissarlik and Mycenae) whetted my appetite for this book.

The authors stick to the archaeological record, building their case for bronze age life and warfare on the artifacts and linear B texts. I found the artwork to give a reasonable interpretation based on those archaeological finds. You may quibble with the colors of clothing, but the details of arms and armor seem right on to me.

The authors maintain a website which lays out the evidence in a little more detail, but the Osprey is a nice summary and well worth a read.

I was surprised at how little time the authors spent on the Trojan war. They deal with the evidence in about a page and a half, which is appropriate considering how little actual physical evidence there is for a great siege (almost none). Still, most Ospreys are aimed at wargamers and modelers, and they will probably expect more on Troy.

Overall, I found this one of the best Ospreys I've ever read. This is a real scholarly work, and if you have even a passing interest in bronze age Greece, pick it up right now!

Oh, and the lecture series I mentioned is one of my favorites. You can find it here. It's a great series to throw into the DVD player during a painting session.

6 comments:

DeanM said...

Scott:

In spite of the TMP expert's critique, I like the book too. And we're talking interpreting archaeological and other type of "evidence" from over three thousand years ago. I'd say it's open to a lot of speculation. I do have to say I don't really like that guy with what looks like twigs in his headgrear though. They should've chosen one of the other nice artwork in the book. Dean

Iowa Grognard said...

Nice entry. I'm going to give this Osprey a look as well.

I have an archaeology background, in a different time period, but have been close to some excellent people who have worked in Greece and the middle east.

That course looks like a good one, I've purchased others from there and they've been top notch. Have you seen Kagan's lectures at Yale's open course site? At an early age I loved his book Polis and Polemos and read everything from him that I could.

Scott MacPhee said...

Yes, I watched Kagan's whole course. It was a great survey. I liked when he arranged all his students in a phalanx, because I've done the same thing with my students!

Glenn said...

Hey Scott,

Hope the ankle is healing correctly this time around, as well as quickly.
Sounds like that injury was a real pain (twice).

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Austin said...

Osprey's can be quite serious and academic, especially on Ancient topics. Sumner's two-part series on Roman Military Clothing (MAAs 374 & 390) is a well-written analysis of the evidence we have. Certainly an answer to the "all tunics were red" diatribes seen on forums. It also shows what Osprey is capable of when not producing titles on uber-Nazis or obscure Napoleonic bodyguards for mass consumption.