Reenacting the Archaic and the Long Sixth Century
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Reenacting the Archaic and the Long Sixth Century

For Plataia 2021, a lot of people are interested in the material culture of a particular period of history. Greek archaeologists call it the Archaic and end it in 480 or 479 with Xerxes’ invasion and the battles of Thermopylae, Salamis, Plataia, and Mykale; Assyriologists call it the Long Sixth Century and end it in the second year of Xerxes King of Lands (484 BCE) when most of the cuneiform archives in Babylonia end.

Academics and museums have some information which can help, but it has not yet been ‘boiled down’ into a few affordable books with good illustrations. So this page is a guide to some of the most useful books and articles. I hope that people trying to write a guide to how to make a good-enough kit find them helpful, but I have not made enough of these things to give that kind of advice.

Of course you don’t have to read all of this! You can get advice from friends if you prefer. But even flipping through some photos of objects in museums before you buy can save you a lot of money, and the more people who have read the same things, the easier it is to have conversations “I read A and B, and based on this evidence I think …” “well I read C, and she argues that B misinterpreted …” rather than just shouting matches. The best living history groups I know employ a divide and conquer strategy: one member focuses on clothing, another on painting, a third participant on woodworking, a fourth reenactor reads texts in the original language and excerpts the juicy bits, a fifth solves craft problems where the other four get stuck and a sixth handles the paperwork.  Its fine to just pick one topic to research, as long as you share the results somewhere they can be found in 10 years and ask an expert if you have not studied a topic!

Table of Contents

  1. Getting Started (includes useful websites)
  2. Textiles *
  3. Clothing
  4. Sashes (in progress)
  5. Hats and Caps
  6. Fibulae and Pins (just a note and bibliography)
  7. Cloak Weights
  8. Jewelry and Seals
  9. Hide Products *
  10. Shoes and Sandals
  11. Sacks, Pouches, and Purses (in progress)
  12. Load-Bearing Equipment (in progress)
  13. Basketry *
  14. Wood *
  15. Camp Furniture (in progress)
  16. Adhesives (in progress) *
  17. Painting (in progress) *
  18. Knives, Axes, and Other Edgetools and Replica Edgetools
  19. Firestarting *
  20. Glassware (intro and bibliography only)
  21. Cooking, Eating, and Drinking
  22. Recipes
  23. Bedding (in progress)
  24. Shelters (in progress)
  25. Grooming and Sanitation (in progress)
  26. Washing (in progress)
  27. Games
  28. Sports
  29. Music
  30. Writing *
  31. Reckoning *
  32. Arms and Armour (‘hard kit’) (just a bibliography)
  33. Spears (very sketchy!)
  34. Bows and Arrows (just a list of links)
  35. Shields (sketchy)
  36. Horses
  37. Other Animals
  38. Bibliography
  39. Edit History


more to come …

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Hats and Caps

… the broad, shallow-crowned Greek and Macedonian petasos sun-hats with a double drawstring, pilos bullet-shaped felt caps …

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The gorytus is the Greek name for the quiver-bowcase worn at the hip.

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Cloak Weights

Jewelry and Seals

… stamp seals
… roll seals
… bracelets
… anklets
… necklaces
… torcs
… finger rings
… earrings

… bezants such as and some finds from Sardis


… discus javelin running swimming archery wrestling ball games …
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Carolyn Willekes, The Horse in the Ancient World: From Bucephalus to the Hippodrome

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Other Animals

Donkeys and oxen did most of the hauling. Herodotus describes convoys of supplies carried on zeugea ‘yokes (of oxen).’ Some squads of 4 or 10 soldiers in Babylonia were issued a donkey or money to buy one (eg. Dar. 253).
… mules …
… Bactrian and Arabian camels: Hdt. 1.80, 3.103, 7.25, some Red Figure vases, absence in Xen. An., and Bulliet, The Camel and the Wheel, Columbia University Press 1990.

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  • Aali, Abolfazl et al. (2012) “Ancient salt mining and salt men: the interdisciplinary Chehrabad Douzlakh project in north-western Iran”
  • Aali, Abolfazl / Stöllner, Thomas (eds). (2015) The Archaeology of the Salt Miners: Interdisciplinary Research 2010-2014. Metalla: Forschungsberichte des Deutschen Bergbau-Museums 21.1–2/2014 (Deutsches Bergbaumuseum: Bochum) {available from the Bergbaumuseum online shop}
  • Anderson, John Kinloch (1970) Military Theory and Practice in the Age of Xenophon (University of California Press, Berkeley and LA)
  • Blyth, P.H. (1982) “The Structure of a Hoplite Shield at the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco.” Bolletino dei Monumenti Musei e Gallerie Pontifice 3 pp. 5-21
  • Blyth, Philip Henry (1977) The Effectiveness of Greek Armour Against Arrows in the Persian War (490-479 B.C.): An Interdisciplinary Inquiry. PhD Thesis, University of Reading, January 1977.
  • Boon, George C. (1991) “Tonsor humanus: razor and toilet-knife in antiquity,” Britannia 22 pp. 21–32.
  • Černenko, E. V. (2006) Die Schutzwaffen der Skythen. Prähistorische Bronzefunde III/2 (Stuttgart: Steiner) {if you can’t read Russian but can read German, this is the bible of armour from graves in the Eurasian steppes. Many detailed line drawings and some small B&W photos}
  • Davis, Todd Alexander (2013) Archery in Archaic Greece. PhD Dissertation, Columbia University.
  • R. M. Dawkins (ed.), The Sanctuary Of Artemis Orthia at Sparta (MacMillan and Co.: London, 1929)
  • van Driel-Murray, Carol (2000) “Leatherwork and Skin Products.” In Nicholson and Shaw eds., Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology (Cambridge University Press, 2000) pp. 304-306
  • van Ess, Margarete, and Pedde, Friedhelm (1992) Uruk: Kleinfunde II. Ausgrabungen in Uruk-Warka, Endberichte Band 7. Philipp von Zabern: Mainz am Rhein.
  • David Fleming, “Eggshell Ware pottery in Achaemenid Mesopotamia,” Iraq, vol. 51 (1989) pp. 165-185
  • Godehardt, Erhardt et al. (2007) “The Reconstruction of Scythian Bows.” In Barry Molloy (ed.), The Cutting Edge (Tempus: Stroud) pp. 112-133.
  • Greenewalt Jr., Crawford H. (1997) “Arms and Weapons at Sardis in the Mid Sixth Century B.C.” Arkeoloji ve Sanat 19.79 pp. 2-20
  • Greenewalt Jr., Crawford H. / Heywood, Ann M. (1992) “A Helmet of the Sixth Century B.C. from Sardis.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 285 pp. 1-31
  • M. Hadian, I. Good, A.M. Pollard, X. Zhang and R. Laursen, “Textiles from Douzlakh Salt Mine at Chehr Abad, Iran: A Technical and Contextual Study of Late pre-Islamic Iranian Textiles.” Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 No. 3 pp. 152-173
  • Hixenbaugh, Randall / Valdman, Alexander (2019) Ancient Greek Helmets: A Complete Guide and Catalog (Hixenbaugh Ancient Art Ltd: New York, NY, 2019) 738 pages (275 color pages), 8 1/2 x 11 in, ISBN 978-0-578-42371-5, USD 450 (hardcover)
  • Berenice R. Jones, Ariadne’s Threads: The Construction and Significance of Clothes in the Aegean Bronze Age. Aegaeum series no. 38 (Peeters: Leuven, 2015)
  • Gabriele Körlin and Thomas Stöllner (ed.), Streifzüge durch Persien: 5500 Jahre Geschichte in Ton. Deutsches Bergbaumuseum: Bochum 2008. {an overview of pre-Sasanid pottery through a private collection, the kind of book you can give to a potter to get ‘in the spirit of’}
  • Kramell, Annemarie et al., “Dyes of late Bronze Age textile clothes and accessories from the Yanghai archaeological site, Turfan, China: Determination of the fibers, color analysis and dating.” Quaternary International 348 (2014) pp. 214-223
  • Krug-Ochmann, Julia Barbara (2014) “Achaemenid and Sassanian Trousers. A short technical description from Douzlakh Salt Mine at Chehr Abad, Iran.” Archaeological Textiles Review 56 pp. 60-64.
  • A. Lucas and J. Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries. Fourth edition (E. Arnold: London, 1962)
  • Donald Eugene McCown, Richard C. Haines, and Donald P. Hansen (1967) Nippur I. Temple of Enlil, Scribal Quarter, and Soundings. OIP 78. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. {layers TA … V to TA … I are Neo-Assyrian to Achaemenid}
  • D.E. McCown, R.C. Haines, and R.D. Biggs (1978) Nippur II. The North Temple and Sounding E: Excavations of the Joint Expedition to Nippur of the American Schools of Oriental Research and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. OIP 97. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. {layers SE III and SE II are Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid}
  • Miller, Margaret C. (1997) Athens and Persians in the Fifth Century BC: A Study in Cultural Receptivity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Moorey, Peter Roger Stuart (1975) “Iranian Troops at Deve Hüyük in Syria in the earlier 5th century B.C.” Levant 7 (1975) pp. 108-117
  • Moorey, Peter Roger Stuart (1980) Cemeteries of the First Millennium BCE at Deve Hüyük, near Carchemish, salvaged by T.E. Lawrence and C.L. Wooley in 1913. British Archaeological Reports 87 (Oxford).
  • P. R. S. Moorey, Ancient Mesopotamian Materials and Industries: The Archaeological Evidence (Eisenbrauns, 1999) {read alongside Lucas and Harris and Nicholson and Shaw}
  • Nicholson and Shaw eds., Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology (Cambridge University Press, 2000) pp. 304-306
  • Nosch, Marie-Louise. “Linen Textiles and Flax in Classical Greece: Provenance and Trade.” In Kerstin Droß-Krüpe (ed.) Textile Trade and Distribution in Antiquity/Textilhandel und -distribution in der Antike. (Harrasowitz-Verlag: Wiesbaden, 2014) pp. 17-42
  • Polosmak, Natalia V. (2015) “A Different Archaeology: Pazyryk culture: a snapshot, Ukok, 2015.” Science First Hand Volume 42, Number 3 (2015)
  • Potts, Daniel T. (2014) Nomadism in Iran: From Antiquity to the Modern Era (Oxford University Press: Oxford)
  • Schmidt, Erich F. / Matson, F.R. (1953) Persepolis I: Structures, Reliefs, Inscriptions. Oriental Institute Publications 68. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Schmidt, Erich F. (1957) Persepolis II. Contents of the Treasury and other Discoveries. Oriental Institute Publications 69. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957.
  • Schmidt, Erich F. (1970) Persepolis III: The Royal Tombs and Other Monuments. OIP 70. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Sono, Toshihiko / Fukai, Shinji (1968) Dailaman III: The Excavations at Hassani Mahale and Ghalekuti, 1964. The Tokyo University Iraq-Iran Archaeological Expedition Report 8 (University of Tokyo, Institute for Oriental Culture: Tokyo) {for more on this series of excavations see EncIr ‘Japan v. Archaeological Missions to Persia’}
  • Steinkeller, Piotr (1980) “Matresses and Felt in Early Mesopotamia.” Oriens Antiquus 19 pp. 79-100 {idenfies the Sumerian word for felting, tug2-du8, and lists crafts in which their work was employed}
  • Stamatopolou, Basilike G. (2004) Οπλον. Η Αργολικη Ασπιδα και η Τεχηολογια της (PhD thesis, Aristotle University Thessalonike)
  • Zutterman, Christophe (2003) “The Bow in the Ancient Near East, A Re-Evaluation of Archery from the Late 2nd Millennium to the End of the Achaemenid Empire.” Iranica Antiqua 38 pp. 119-165

Donald Strong and David Brown (eds.), Roman Crafts (London: Duckworth, 1976) {I have not seen this, suggested methods for reproducing a wide range of Roman artifacts, UVic has it as NK680 R64}

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Edit History

Since this page is still in flux, changes from 24 May 2019 to 20 December 2021 were not recorded.

  • 2021-12-21: moved Load Bearing Equipment, Textiles, and Hide Products to their own pages, added a link to JoAnn Scurlock’s article on leather
  • 2021-12-23: expanded section on Writing with a bibliography on writing boards from the Late Bronze Age to the 14th century CE.
  • 2022-01-20: moved Getting Started, Writing, and Camp Furniture to their own pages. Added a Greek word for ‘purse’ under sacks and bags. Added Theophrastus’ Characters to the section on washing.
  • 2022-02-01: added the book by Berenice Jones to the bibliography
  • 2022-02-02: updated the link to P.R.S. Moorey’s book after chat with librarian
  • 2022-08-09: moved a group of sections to their own pages
  • 2022-08-10: moved a group of sections to their own pages, deleted stub of ‘recipes’ since it got its own page some time ago

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