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The Mycenaeans were an Aegean civilization dating around 1580 to 1120 B.C.

Around 1200 BC the Mycenaean palaces in mainland Greece were abandoned, and even the Egyptian state was struggling against invasions from neighboring lands. Despite this in Europe, beyond the Aegean sea, a method was introduced for creating bronze. Someone was probably smelting copper, and an impurity, tin, was in the mix. When the amalgam cooled the result was bronze. It was hard, could not be bent like copper, yet could form a cutting edge. It would not embarrass the user by having their sword fold up in their hands. When the method of making bronze spread about it was used to make weapons and armor. From leg guards to helmets. A Mycenaean hero from head to toe would be: Helmets: the helmets were made of bronze, and sometimes boar tusk. They would be decorated immensely if the soldier was a hero. They had bronze side burns which ran down the side of the wearer's face, covering the ears. The top was a bowl shape. Some times helmets would have a large bump located at the top. The bump would supposedly deflect an incoming blade. Some of the helmets might also employ hair on the top, which was believed able to turn a blade. For more ornamental purposes they might stick on horns of beasts.

Not a lot is known about body armor. One source says that they wore a breast plate of overlapping metal bands. These metal bands were designed to protect the wearer"s ribs. Another suggest chain mesh body armor. Virtually no fully intact body armor has been found.

The shields of the day were sometimes round. These round shields had a string which would go around the wearer's neck so the shield could also be flipped around and protect his back if needed. Other times shields formed what is known as a 'tower shield'. These tower shields were rectangular at the bottom and had a little hump at the top. They had a strap at the top that was called a telemon. It hung over the soldier's shoulder. The strap also let the wearers place it on their backs. It let the soldier use both his hands making his attacking abilities more substantial. The tower shield was made of wood and covered with hide, or metal. The 'figure eight' shield (originally called the fiddle shield) was shaped like a peanut. It too possessed a telemon strap that provided the same benefits. The figure eight shield was probably made of bull's hide stretched across the frame with the hair still on it.
The soldier most likely would either have shin guards made of bronze, or leather. They allowed movement by not bending with the knee. For foot wear most pictures show either a sandal or a mesh leather type shoe.

A spear (or javelin) was the principal fighting weapon. It would either be hurled at the opponent or jabbed depending on the length Only if the spear was lost would the warrior resort to the sword.

The bow and arrow was more commonly used for hunting. Only a small skilled few used it in combat. Unless abnormally skilled these people were looked on as cowards. There were two different types of bows in Odysseus's time. One was the slightly curved D looking bow called the Cretan bow. The Scythian bow was more complex. It had a W shape to it and when it was unstrung it reverted to a wide U. The Scythian bow was the kind that Odysseus used. The suitors in The Odyssey had trouble stringing it because they were used to the Cretan bow where you only needed one hand. The Scythain bow required the use of both hands and legs to string it. The arrow heads themselves were tied onto a small slot in the shaft of the arrow. They are normally a flat dart shaped piece of bronze.

Early swords were a secondary force, mainly used for the last thrust to impale the opponent. Later they were divided into two different categories, hacking, and slashing. The hacking was short and broad, while the slash was more like a sword of modern times. The slashing weapon came over from Northern Europe and changed the way the Mycenaeans used the swords.

Usually the heroes of the battle knew each other and sought each other out for hand to hand duels, neither regarded the war around them as a threat. Other times as described in The Iliad they would form a tight mass of soldiers, usually 8 people but some times as many as 50, all with spears, they would form a wall of impenetrable spears. This grouping is called a Phalanx. It was extremely hard to move in the formation because everyone had to be coordinated enough to pull it off.

Works Cited.

Connoly, Peter. The Legend Of Odysseus. Hong Kong: Oxford U.P. 1998.
Smithsonian Time line of the Ancient World. New York: Dorling Kindersley inc. 1993.
Tunis, Edward Weapons a Pictorial History. New York: The World Publishing Company. 1954.
Encyclopædia Britannica Online <http:/www.eb.com:180boltopic?eu=47206&sctn=1>
Acala Gallery Home Page <http:/www.bauerart.com/index.html>

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