Amphipolis Roundup.

The mysterious remains of an Alexandrian VIP will undergo laboratory tests to establish gender, age & likely identity.
Excavations on the large, high status tomb at Kasta near Amphipolis in North Eastern Greece has been going on since its discovery in 2012 and its penetration in August 2014. Since then more and more ancient treasures have been unearthed, hinting at who was buried inside.
The world has watched fascinated as the greatest archeological find of the 21st century (so far we hope) unfolds. So far theories of the occupant has ranged from Alexander the Great himself, to his mother, to one of his generals have kept pros and laymen alike guessing. It has been a bumpy ride, and this positive result has not never been assured.
As of 21 October Diggers hit dirt wall after excavating the 3rd Chamber. The subsequent effort to break through and preserve the floor delays the discovery of the Fourth ChAmber. Thus far excavations have cost €600,000 from ministry’s of culture, Macedonia and Thrace.
The discovery of Female headed Sphinx’ “Guarding” the tomb, apart from the high degree of skill and care so far in evidence, confirms this burial is a high profile one. Theories of a Royal inhabitant or at least one of Alexander’s Generals are highly likely.
On the 29th official statements didn’t rule out the discovery of a 4th chamber, but the outlook was dubious.
Then on 3rd November the Daily Mail was reporting a breakthrough. A secret vault had been discovered beneath room 3 reinvigorating the search and bringing back hope of finding the burial chamber.
The excavations made international news once more yesterday after diggers hit the jackpot, finding a grave with skeletal remains still inside, once secured in a now rotted wooden coffin. We now await developments.
Greek Culture Minister Costas Tasoulas has since held a press conference at the Amphipolis Museum on Saturday, November 22, at 1 p.m and Archaeologist Katerina Peristeri has presented the results of the excavation on Saturday Nov 29 at 11 a.m. However on Monday the 17th of November the Greek Culture Ministry has announced that it could take up to 8 months for results of the scientific examination to be presented.

After the considerable excitement the discovery has stirred up the laboratory findings will be eagerly anticipated by the archaeological, historical community. No one wants to commit themselves yet but confidence is high that the scientific analysis will answer questions.

Facts gathered from the Greek Reporter. International business times UK. Daily Mail. BBC. Euro News,

Thought I’d just do a quick tally… As you do.

Say What?

I’m usually the sort of guy who is very irritated by people who correct my spelling. However on the other hand I’m also kind of happy that someone was kind enough to point out an error that I missed. Usually I can tell whether someone is being kind or snide, but this post is not about bad grammar or spelling, it’s about pronunciation. A not too distantly related subject but it’s specific to two words in particular. Normally I would not bother to write about such nit pick’s but in this case I am going to be dealing with foreign words, and so I feel justified in saying that we need to get them right when we say them. Plus these are two of my bugbears so TADAH! A ranting we shall go.

English speaking nations have a notorious reputation for “Barbarising” phrases of other nations, but the treatment of the word Guerrilla, Spanish for “Little War” is a particularly amusing one. For as you no doubt know it is popularly pronounced as if it was referring to the Greatest of the Apes. From TV newscasters to series’ and movies it is pronounced Gorilla, making it seem as if the phrase has more to do with the secretive nature of an endangered African animal than the strategy of Spanish insurgents. So just for the sake of sanity I’d like to set the record straight.
Gorilla: A large African Ape with great strength and intelligence, feeds on green leaves and lives in family groups lead by a dominant male called a silverback, pronounced as it is spelled.
Guerrilla: A type of low level but widespread insurgency usually conducted on a popular level, focused on hit and run attacks on an enemy’s weak points. Pronounced Gerr-ee-ya. With a hard G and usually a nice Spanish roll to the R’s if possible. At least that’s what I try to “Ape”.

My next one is a little more pedantic, and maybe I should be ashamed of myself for being picky, but it is the truth that you cannot watch any documentary about Samurai without hearing the word Bushido. And yes you’ve guessed it, most of the time English and American presenters are usually guilty of pronouncing it wrong. The word means “Way of the Warrior” and refers to the code by which a Samurai of feudal Japan conducted himself, interestingly enough Samurai is Japanese for (Servant).
The usual mistake when people pronounce this word is to lengthen it and overstate it, Boosheedo is usually what you hear but It’s actually quite a fast word and is pronounced Bushy-Doe. Yes it does conjure up an image of a verdant female deer but it’s true, honest.

Right then. That’s my little rant over with. It’s just a few things that bug me but never usually point out, and what’s a blog for if you can’t vent a little know and again.

See you next time.


Resembling Jackson

While I was looking for a suitable picture of Thomas Stonewall Jackson to tweet, I came across one of him when he a young officer in the United States Army. Looking at it I was struck by the resemblance he shared with the Actor David Hedison who starred in, among other things, the popular TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Judge for yourself but if I had been a producer back in the day I would have instantly grabbed him to play Young Jackson in a movie, or later in a mini series if he grew a beard. I think they look quite alike. Continue reading “Resembling Jackson”

Dinner at Pliny’s.

Ever wonder what a well off Roman might dine on during the 1st Century AD?
In one of his many letters Pliny the Younger details a rather high end dinner, while at the same time ticking off a friend for not appearing to eat it. Bad show! Since Pliny had gone to some expense to provide food and entertainment for the dinner party, no small feat, for Pliny was not a man who enjoyed excesses, the least Septitius Clarus could have done was put in an appearance. Continue reading “Dinner at Pliny’s.”

Battlefields on Google Maps.

Battlefields on Google Maps.

 One of the most fun aspects of the technology afforded us by Google maps is its street view ability. It’s very useful for planning trips, and many other things besides, because of Street view I was able to give accurate directions through a major city because I have a more than passing acquaintance with the layout of the roads from the Belgian border from Charleoi to Brussels I was able to drive (within the parameters of Street View’s roaming) around the battlefield of Waterloo.

 Now I’m not saying that this cyber walk replaces actual feet on the ground investigation but for those who want a basic look at terrain and contour, even colour and weather to a point, this is could be the best gadget to come into a History enthusiast’s hands since you put down your last book, all you need is a map from a history book and an interent connection, so here’s a post that will tell you how I used it recently.


Continue reading “Battlefields on Google Maps.”

A road to iSandlwana

Research is something I do. Sometimes for no reason. And that is the best way I can explain the following post. If you are interested in the Anglo Zulu War of 1879 then I’m sure you will be interested. If you’ve never heard of it, you will likley have more questions to ask than are answered. Continue reading “A road to iSandlwana”

Britain’s Greatest Battle

On the 20th of April the National Army Museum London will hold a speakers event to determine Britain’s Greatest battle. A selection of battles covering a span of time from the English Civil War to Afghanistan has been chosen, and a online poll has been opened for the public to vote for five finalists that guest speakers (as yet unnamed) will argue for on the 20th.  Previously the Museum has chosen Britain’s Greatest General, and Britain’s Greatest Enemy General by this means, and has found that The Duke of Wellington and Field Marshal Slim (A name not generally known) where tied for greatest general. And by a large margin George Washington beat out Napoleon for British enemy number 1.

At this moment the leader board looks like this:
Battle Votes
1 D-Day/Normandy 256
2 Waterloo 248
3 Musa Qala 131
4 Imphal/Kohima 130
5 El Alamein 115
But there is a choice of 20 well and not so well known choices.
You can vote here for the battle you think is your greatest.

Here’s my thoughts.
For a long time I have had WM stamped after my name. These initials, found on muster books at the end of a soldier’s name who fought under the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo . Essentially this makes me biased, but everyone who gets involved in this debate will have their favourite. However I feel perfectly certain in my belief that Waterloo deserves its place in the popular imagination as Britain’s Greatest Battle.
Because The victory over Napoleon in 1815 has numerous threads that lead down to today. It was the full stop of an age and the first word of another, the 18th century died on the slopes of Mont St Jean that sunday morning, and modern Europe was born by the gunsmoke tarnished sunset, and an Empire was being born out of the ashes of another. The reason why the British Army is the force it is today is Becasue of the steadiness and dedication of the troops at Waterloo. The image of the steel rimmed squares of British redcoats, being swamped by angry sea’s of French Cuirassiers, inspired the nation and was the epitome of the stiff upper lip, the Victorian Empire we are descended from, came about not Becasue of steam and mills, but Becasue the Waterloo men won the peace that allowed progress to happen.
As a military victory, it shows Wellington’s mastery of position, deployment and improvisation, on the 15th of June he should have been knocked out of the game, but he was able to concentrate his force and fall back to ground he knew, where he could be supported and utterly crush Napoleon. The Duke said his Infantry never behaved so well, and indeed never had the ties of Regimental loyalty and dicipline been tested so hard, in all arms, from the redcoats to the cavalry’s magnificent charges to the solidness of the Artillery, all played their part in the eventual victory.

The reason I have decided to write this is because I myself cannot see how Washington could have defeated Napoleon, or how Field Marshal Montgomery was a poorer general than Slim, just Because Slim has unjustly been forgotten, in my opinion that is like saying General Hill was better than Wellington just because he didn’t have as much notoriety.

If we consider what a Great Battle is, it clearly is a conflict that shaped the history that followed it or possibly overshadows the battles that preceded it. That by virtue of its outcome has influenced the world today, and has left an indelible impression on the tactical thinking, motivation and performance of the military units that can trace their ancestry to it. This is not to say that the older the battle the more deserving, for not every battle has been fought with the same stakes riding on it and thus has a lessened impact on today.

Waterloo represents the peak of proficiency of the army that Wellington fought in. This why for the rest of his life he fought to keep it that way with only minor changes creeping in. The British would not fight another war against an “Industrial power” until the Crimea in 1854 so the tactical benefits of the battle where obsolete almost as soon as the last shot was fired, yet the use of squares, lines, volleying and cavalry was widely used across the Empire, but in different ways. Indeed it could be argued that WW2 was the final proving of the post Waterloo army and, the post world war army has yet to evolve into its penultimate form as it faces the challenges of counter insurgency and guerrilla warfare, perhaps Iraq and Afghanistan will prove to be this benchmark and another change awaits. In this sense Waterloo’s influence on the following generations of soldiers was tradition and spirit, which obviously carried through to the first and second world war, and by extension to the troops fighting today.

Please follow the link and vote how you think is best
Thanks for reading.

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.