Month: May 2016

A Famous Couplet

Self at Naqš-e Rostam, May 2016. Is it not passing brave to study this, And stroll in triumph through Persepolis? With apologies to Christopher Marlowe.

How Many Ancient Military Historians Are There at Canadian Universities?

A painting of a two-humped camel with bit and bridle next to a saddled horse
Like camels in the Brenner pass in the fourteenth century, military historians are more common in pictures and stories than real life in Canada today. Wall painting from about the 1330s in the Burgkapelle Aufenstein near Matrei am Brenner. Photo by author, July 2014.

Although military history fills the television screens, YouTube channels, and bookstore history aisles in Canada just as in other countries, its presence at universities is very modest indeed. Until October 2015 I did not know of anyone who studies any aspect of warfare before the nineteenth century who teaches history at a Canadian university to fund his research. At least a hundred faculty are paid to teach history before the nineteenth century at a Canadian university [1], but very few chose to publish on the military aspects. This week I thought I would list the determined scholars who insist on working on this topic at an advanced level at Canadian universities.

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Monster-Headed Axes

A relief of a man in a long tunic carrying a bowcase over his left shoulder and a pick in his right hand
The weapon bearer from the relief of the North Staircase, Apadana, Persepolis courtesy of Jona Lendering of Livius.Org.

On the great central relief of the North Staircase at Persepolis, which was presented front and center to visitors approaching the palace for an audience, a weapon bearer stands in the background with the royal axe and bow. His axe has a long, narrow head like a pick. A clever craftsman has formed the socket into the head of a strange creature, and the blade into something which comes from its mouth, while the back-spike becomes its tail. Several iron or bronze axeheads of this type survive, but none is so beautifully formed.Read more


Three Historical Novels

Three books sitting on a hardwood floor: "The Dragon of the Ishtar Gate" on an eReader, "Flashman and the Dragon" in paperback, and "Tyrant" in paperback

Last winter I read some novels instead of puttering around on the Internet. This week I thought I would talk about three novels by three authors which span the range of the genre of adventurous historical fiction. While all of these have peril, romance, blood, and all the other Dionysiac fluids, each has its own mix and its own style. In some ways this reflects the three different adventurous individuals who wrote them.

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