Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


15 November 2010

Swords and Swordsmanship in the Aegean Bronze Age

Barry Molloy American Journal of Archaeology 114.3 (July 2010): 403-428.


Warfare and combat are often considered to have played central roles in the characterization of elite identities and the social evolution of Aegean Bronze Age polities of Crete and the Greek mainland. Iconography and mortuary practice provide insights into how warrior identity and violence were materially celebrated. To understand better the systemic and reflexive impact of warfare on social structures, consideration of the technical aspects of combat practice is important. The actual weapons, particularly swords and spears, that warriors used to participate in wars survive in large quantities. Practical functions of these weapons can be determined with the help of metric and use-wear analysis and experimental archaeology; these efforts provide insights into the manner in which combat was conducted, a picture that is enhanced by iconographic, literary, and mortuary evidence. By focusing on swords and swordsmanship, this article seeks to use the material culture of war to illuminate the dynamic relationship between war and society in the Aegean Bronze Age.


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