Most people interested in ancient warfare know about the swords, spears, shields, and wheeled vehicles from La Tène in western Switzerland. Peter Connolly painted pictures of them which were printed in a number of his books. A chat with Prof. Dr. Marc-Antoine Kaeser of the Laténium in Switzerland pointed me to some articles where I learned more about these ancient wooden objects.Read more
Month: March 2023
Search engines have been losing the battle against content farms for a decade or so. Around 1 March (2023 – ed.) I noticed that DuckDuckGo was including random things that it thought were physically close to my IP address in search results, things like maps, business directories, or local news stories that did not have most or any of the keywords but were things people might often click on. That made me look more into what DuckDuckGo actually is these days.Read more
Martin Rundkvist, Mead-halls of the Eastern Geats: Elite Settlements and Political Geography AD 375–1000 in Östergötland, Sweden (Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien: Stockholm, Sweden, 2011) academia.edu
The first time I read Martin Rundkvist’s book on early medieval southern Sweden, I realized that Sweden is weird. That is because for the past two or three thousand years, the area has never been conquered or occupied by foreigners bringing an alien language and culture. The closest things to that are the arrival of Christianity and whatever happened in northern Scandinavia between Indo-European speakers, Finno-Urgic speakers, and whoever was there before them. I struggle to think of anywhere else in the world which could say the same. Norway got invaded by outsiders once in 1940, and Denmark sometimes had trouble with (Latin Christian) Carolingians, British, or Prussians, but basically wars in southern Scandinavia were between Southern Scandinavians whom the proverbial Martian would have a hard time telling apart.Read more
These posts are an experiment: can I have fun talking about martial arts problems as problems to a general audience? Talking with other fencers about fencing theory tends to frustrate everyone unless they already agree. If you like this post or have trouble following, please let me know!
One of the fundamental problems in fencing goes like this. You and your partner are both standing in guard, Because the hand is quicker than the eye, and because in armed combat one strike or thrust can kill, you are far enough away that neither can strike the other without stepping. That extra distance (measure) gives you time (tempo) in which to notice their attack and defend yourself. You want to attack first with a cut. How do you do so without walking on to their point?Read more
Something elsewhere made me think of Poul Anderson’s classic essay “On Thud and Blunder” about sword-and-sorcery authors who don’t bother to consider the how and why as well as the what. I wanted to check when it was first published and link to the online text.
It was first published in Andrew J. Offutt (ed.), Swords Against Darkness III (Zebra Books, 1978) and reprinted online by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Association. Anderson’s essay was the predecessor to Diana Wyne Jones’ book The Tough Guide to Fantasyland (first edition 1996, revised 2006 – Wikipedia).Read more