Talk by Greek Hoplite Reenactors
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Categories: Ancient

Talk by Greek Hoplite Reenactors

If you like videos, some of the people who are organizing Plataia 2021 (which will probably occur in 2022) and classicist Natasha Bershadsky have given a talk at the Centre for Hellenic Studies in Massachusetts. If you are not familiar with Giannis Kadoglou’s kit, Paul Bardunias’ experiment at Marathon 2015, and the Hoplite Experiment at WMAW 2019, its a handy introduction (and if you are, there are a few video clips which I have not seen before).

I think it shows why the phase of research into ancient Greek warfare from 1989 to 2013 did not help us understand what happened on battlefields better. Most of that research was written by people without much experience or training in marching and fighting (people a lot like me in other words!) and who were much more comfortable with the details of a Greek text than the details of an archaeological report. So the people proposing and judging theories about what exactly happened in combat tended to have some intuitions which do not match physical reality, and there was no easy way to test the different assumptions. The so-called heretics were able to cite their texts and vase paintings and show that many of the California School’s theories did not fit the evidence, but when they brought forth their own theories they were less convincing.

If we want to know (and knowing is not important, but it is fun) we need to bring all kinds of evidence together and listen to people who have skills we do not have. Ancient historians will have to listen to engineers and copper-smiths, reenactors will have to study archaeology and what classicists have to say about the rhetoric and politics of ancient texts. If we do that, many of those old theories will fall away, but whatever emerges will be a lot closer to whatever happened.

Dr. Bershadsky is organizing an online conference on the Battle of Plataia in October 2021. I have received very little information about the next reenactment event in Greece, but my understanding is that it is tentatively rescheduled for 2022 due to the plague.

(scheduled 18 June 2021; thanks to Paul Bardunias for the link)

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