Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lycean Armour

A reconstruction of the mainLykean (orLycen) temple. It was pretty much rubble when it was re-discovered in the 1880s.

This is a closeup of one of the sculpted blocks at the base of the temple. We can get a lot out of even a smashed up bas relief. lets focus in on a few aspects of this sculpture shall we?
The whole block is a good two feet high, so the figures are about a cubit in length. They don't follow the convention that the important guy is a lot bigger, and they have not discovered perspective. But they DO like to show combat between champions.
As usual, the phalluses have been knocked off as "good luck" charms over the years.

above is a closeup of the fella shown below. He has a beautiful horsehair plume on his helmet, a nice big round bronze heavy shield as made famous in the movie "The 300", and bare feet. Other representations show them wearing sandals. One wonders why the bare feet and light clothing. Perhaps if Iwas in swealtering Anatolia during the summer, I would figure it out!
The helmet intentionally looks like a phallus head. No, really, it was assumed that the phallus was the source of all martial power and strength, and they made their helmets to reflect that.

A phalanx being attacked by a horseman. The horse appears to have been trained to fight...look at it kicking at the guywith the shield! How exciting! What a story this tells!

A great image of a phalanx
The horseman being knocked off his horse. The horse just keeps on fighting, the rider is pretty much done for!

One on one fighting. One is reminded of Homer's epic in which the great champions went at it in front of the walls of windy Troy. Maybe not so far wrong...Troy was one of their neighbours to the north...
Below is another awesome battle scene. I love the heavy leather armour on the lad to the right. The big cloak blowing back in the in the wind. The spear (now long lost) ready to drive into the chest of the NEXT rider foolish enough to take him on. If you click on any of these images, you can enlarge them enough to check out the great armour. And get a load of those kicky floppy top horseman's boots!

Don't be feeling bad if you have never heard of Lycea...I mean, nobody I know has ever heard of Lycea. However,a few minutes on google tells us that they were a remarkably influential group back in the day. That day being the 500 odd years Before the Common era. (Thats the politically correct term we use instead of BC nowadays)
The Lyceans were the ones who gave us "proportional representation", a term which is usually meant to mean "democracy", at least, democracy as it is though of today. Their forms of government were studied by republicans for millenia.
They were rare fighters. Fought the Greeks who were coming in from across the pond, fought the Trojans who came south looking for women and gold, lets face it, they were on a cross roads, and they fought everybody who wanted such a nice coastline and fertile, horse friendly fields. They fought the Persians about the same time as the Spartans, with much the same fury. A contemporary account tells of how they were not about to let the Persians get their wimmen-folk and their holy relics, so they burned their church down on top of them. cut and paste follows of the report from an eye witness...
"The Persian Army entered the plain of Xanthos under the command of Harpagos, and did battle with the Xanthians. The Xanthians fought with small numbers against the superior Persians forces, with legendary bravery. They resisted the endless Persian forces with great courage, but were finally beaten, their womenfolk, children, slaves and treasures into the fortress. This was then set on fire from, below and around the walls , until destroyed by conflagration. Then the warriors of Xanthos made their final attack on the Persians, their voices raised in calls of war, until every last man from Xanthos was killed."

Wow. What a way to fall off the radar!
The Lyceans rated their own room in the British Museum. Their architecture and sculpture was so seminal that most of what we now think of as "Greek" temples, sculpture and even political systms were actually invented by the Lyceans. I have posted some snapshots I took at the British Museum, and have concentrated on an event they commemorated in sculpture that dates to 429 BC....the invasion by Athens. You can tell the Athenians by their big round shields, and you can tell the Lycans by their little cute caps and they artist always shows them winning.

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