Monday, December 17, 2012

Cyrus the Younger, Zeno and Theodoric the Great

A couple of ancient military papers available online from Pomoerium, links to the journal table of contents:

Legitimacy and Usurpation in the Age of Zeno dealing with Zeno and the barbarian group of the two Theoderics

1902 photo of a bronze statue of Theodoric the Great, King of the Ostrogoths


Posts will be on and off for the next 2-3 weeks because of the holidays.  Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

British paratrooper, pigeons and Saxons

Today’s stories:

Not too long ago, a World War II carrier pigeon was found dead in a chimney.  He was identified as such because of a coded message strapped to his leg.  The message had been undecipherable until identified by researchers in Canada.  Apparently the code was partially based on a First Word War artillery code book.  The message appears to have been sent by a Lancashire paratrooper Sergeant William Stott after parachuting behind enemy lines into Normandy.  Stott sent the message as a regular update and requesting information from HQ Bomber Command at RAF High Wycombe.  Stott’s possible mission was to assess German strength.   Stott was killed in action a few weeks after sending the message.  More here.

British paratroopers in Oosterbeek, 23 September 1944

Dr. Julius Neubronner’s patented miniature pigeon camera, 1909-1911

Researchers with the Canterbury Archaeological Trust discovered five Saxon graves in St Margaret’s.  The excavation was done ahead of planned construction work.  At least one of the graves held a warrior buried with a shield.  More Saxon graves may be present in the area.  More here. 
Pre-1066 illustration of Anglo-Saxon warriors on horseback

Friday, December 14, 2012

Viking Sword update

If you want more information on the discovery of the 10th C Viking sword and the older pre-Viking sword in the River Shannon, the national Museum of Ireland sent me this youtube link for some more information.  

They also have a twitter account 
and facebook page 
( for continuing updates.

Apparently the grip on the Viking sword has been mineralized but in the process preserved.  The grip bindings are rarely found so that is a good bit of new information to be extracted by conservators.

Vikings, Samurai and the South Pole

Four stories of interest today:

Underwater archaeologists discovered two ancient swords in the River Shannon in Ireland.  One is said to be a 10th C Viking sword.  The second is a pre-Viking sword dated between the 5th and 7th centuries. More here.

1917 illustration of Viking sword, spear head, axe

Research was done on the bones of Samurai and their children living during the Edo period (1603-1868).  Analysis indicated that many of the children suffered from lead poisoning which left the children deformed, disabled or backward.  The lead came from the large amount of make-up used by Japanese mothers at the time.  The research posits that the health detriments helped lead to a weakening of the Samurai class of Japan. More here.

Photo of Samurai Sosuke Henmi (1843-1894)

1800s illustration from Edo period book “Tale of the Eight Dog Warriors of Satomi”

A team currently exploring the South Pole possibly discovered the 1912 campsite used by Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition to the South Pole.  Scott was a Royal Navy officer leading the expedition and though they reached the South Pole, the team died on the way back.  More here.

Scott’s ship the Terra Nova

In Georgia, Gwinnett County officials purchased a Hog Mountain Site where the War of 1812-era outpost Fort Daniel once stood.  Though the land is bare, archaeologists have been able to locate the fort’s wall foundations and artifacts. More here

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

10th Mountain in WWII Italy and Irish shipwrecks

Just a couple of stories today:

Researchers located an amphibious US truck at the bottom of the 600 foot deep Lake Garda.  The truck is likely the one that sank with 24 men while attempting to storm Italian dictator Mussolini’s refuge near the end of WWII on 30 April 1945.  The DUKW, as it is known, was carrying men of the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division, 85th Infantry Regiment.  Photos show the submerged truck but there are no indications of the men who were listed as missing in action.  More here.

 DUKW amphibious truck

 DUKW amphibious truck

10th Mountain Division, between 0830 and 0910 14 April 1945, Bologna, Italy

 10th Mountain Division, 87th Mountain Infantry, Co K, covering another squad in Sassomolare, Italy, Porretta Moderna Highway, 
4 March 1945

10th Mountain, 8th Infantry regiment, marching north near Malcesine on Lake Garda, 29 April 1945 (the day before the reported DUKW sank in Lake Garda)

About a month ago,  a major survey was published of shipwrecks off the coast of Ireland.  The survey has plenty of photos and shows such things as a tanker sunk during WWII, Sherman tanks that had been loaded on the ship, the 1870s wreck of the ironclad battleship HMS Vanguard, a WWI dreadnought battleship, a German U-Boat and many more.  More here.    

HMS Vanguard at anchor ca. 1870-1875
The tanker, the Empire Heritage, had been carrying numerous Sherman tanks.  After being torpedoed by German U-boat U-482 on September 8, 1944, survivors were picked up by the rescue ship Pinto.  The Pinto was fired on by the same U-boat and sunk. Another ship arrived for those survivors.

Kapitänleutnant Hartmut Graf von Matuschka, Captain of the U-482 that sunk the Empire Heritage and Pinto

Type VII C U-boat, same type as U-482 but different U-boat pictured

Sherman tanks in European theater, 1943

Sherman tank in Sicily, 1943

The joys of military related nautical archaeology...

Some WWII and other shipwreck information websites below:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Port Jackson and Korean turtle ship

Top military history research stories in the last couple days:

The 1800-1804 Nicolas Baudin expedition resulted in at least one report to Napoleon that Port Jackson in New South Wales, Australia should be invaded and Irish convicts possibly used as allies in the attempt.  Corrected translations of the expedition’s papers resulted in the recent findings.  More here.

View of the Heads, Port Jackson

Japanese researchers announced they had found an adult male wearing some pieces of a 6th C lamellar suit of Japanese armor.  The man was found on the Kanai Higashiura site that had been buried under volcanic ash in the 6th C.  Numerous arrowheads were found near the man.  While over 600 suits of this Kofun Period type of armor have been found in tombs next to the owner, this is the first time a body had been found with any of the armor on.  More here.

The Imjin War of 1592-1598 nearly resulted in Japan successfully invading Korea.  However, at the September 16, 1597 Battle of Myeongnyang Strait, Admiral Yi Sun-shin used a fleet of 13 ships to defeat a force of 133 Japanese ships.  Researchers recently discovered three guns near the site along with stone bullets.  Evidence strongly suggests the bullets and guns were used during the battle.  More here.

1795 illustration of early 15th C Korean turtle ship
{{PD-1923}} – published before 1923 and public domain in the US.

Victoria Cross and Marcus Aurelius

Top stories in the last few days:

Researchers have discovered the grave of Victoria Cross recipient Major John Buckley.  He earned the award for protecting an ammunition magazine during the 19th C Indian Mutiny.  He was an active military man but suffered many personal misfortunes, finally dying a poor man and buried in a quiet corner of the UK.  More here.

 Illustration of Indian Mutiny of 1857-1859

Lt Kerr, 24th Bombay Native Infantry earning his Victoria Cross near Kolapore, July 1857

 Dighton MacNaghten Probyn, 2nd Punjab Cavalry uniform, earned a Victoria Cross during the Indian Mutiny

The Royal Air Force Museum of the UK will digitize about 300,000 First World War personnel records as part of a permanent exhibit commemorating World War One.  The work is being funded partly through a grant given by the Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund.

Researchers have recently located the previously undiscovered Ostia harbor of Rome.   The harbor had a fortified gate to help protect grain shipments into Rome and to protect Rome from enemy fleets sailing into the Tiber River.  The river around the harbor silted up over time and a new harbor named Portus was built 3km north.   The discovery will allow for a greater understanding of how Rome developed and protected itself during its age of empire.  More here.

Finally, the Italian government lacks the funds to maintain the tomb of Marcus Nonius Macrinus, an active 2nd century AD Roman general.  The elaborate tomb was discovered in 2008 but due to lack of funds it may be reburied to protect it from exposure and other damage.  More here.

Sculpture of Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from 161-180 and engaged in many wars with Germanic tribes; Macrinus served as an adviser to Aurelius

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Revolutions, Lithuania and Scandinavian myths

Today’s gallery collection comes from Malmo Konstmuseum in Malmo, Sweden.  My gallery is found here and below I have added more public domain artwork for further enjoyment.

1905 painting “The Abduction of Sampo” – The event is taken from the Kalevala, a national epic of Finland.  In this particular story, heroes battle to take the Sampo, an object that provides fortune and prosperity.

 1896 painting "The Defense of the Sampo"

1783 painting “Ulla von Hopken’s sacrifice to Asclepius” – The painting was made to help speed up the recovery of King of Sweden Gustav III after he broke his arm.  Gustav is noted for his admiration for the American Revolution and his role in the Russo-Swedish War of 1788-1790.  He was an enlightened monarch who feared the French Revolution and tried to organize European nobility against the Revolution.

 1845 painting, Russian 22 gun cutter Merkuriy capturing Swedish 44 gun frigate Venus, June 1, 1789
1762 “Portrait of Prince Vladimir Golitsyn Borisovtj” and 1777 “Portrait of Princess Natalia Petrovna Golitsyn, born Tjernysjev” – The Galitzines/Golitsyn’s are a large princely house of Russia.  They are of the House of Gediminas having descended from Lithuanian Prince George, incorporating the emblem of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in their coat of arms.  Many of the family were notable Russian boyars and involved in many Russian wars.   

 1578, Gediminas, Grand Duke of Lithuania

 Gediminas Castle in Vilnius, Lithuania

1885 painting “Treppenhuis” – The painting depicts museum patrons in front of Rembrandt’s painting “The Night Watch.”  This second painting depicts the civil guard company of Dutch Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch. 

1846 painting “Heimdall returns Brisingamen to Freyja” – This painting shows a mix of Norse myths, Heimdall being the Norse god who watches for the coming of Ragnarok, the epic Norse battle of the gods.

 ca. 1905, Asgard burning in the final phase of Ragnarok

1677-1680 “Portrait of Baron Knut Jonsson Kurck”.  Kurck was an influential Swedish official in the late 1600s, during the time the Swedish Empire was involved in numerous wars, including some against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, for land.

1910-1914 “Portrait of Mikhail Ivanovich Terestjenko”. – Finance and Foreign Minister of Russia in 1917 during the Russian Revolution.  He and his family fled the country and later in France he supported the White Army against the Bolsheviks.
 Baron Ungern von Sternberg, military commander of the White Army in Russia, shot by Bolsheviks in 1921

1919 photo of division of Russian White Army

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Biblical Battle and Ancient Russia

Today’s artwork comes from the Latvian National Museum of Art located in Riga, Latvia.  The art gallery can be accessed here.  As always, I have added my own pictures to accompany the text below, they are not the pieces to be found at the museum.

1908-1911 painting “Kurbads the hero and the nine headed devil” – Kurbads is an old Latvian folklore hero/warrior and here he wields a club.

1935 painting “Memento From 1918” – This appears to be a painting addressing disfigurement in World War One.  Grisly and dark.

1837 painting “Moses, Aaron and Hur” – This scene is taken from the Book of Exodus where Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands during the Battle of Rephidim between the Israelites and Amalekites.  They held up his hands since the Israelites appeared to prevail when Moses’ hands were raised.  The Battle occurred during the Israelite exodus from Egypt.  The Amelkites were said to be the first of the nations to make war against Israel.  Joshua led the Israelites through the day until sunset, Moses keeping his hands raised the entire battle until won by Israel.   

Battle of Rephidim, 1728

Battle of Rephidim, 19th/20th Century
1917 painting “Refugees” – The painting represents a stark view of likely Latvian refugees displaced by World War One.

1932 painting “Madonna with a Machine Gun” which represents the premonition of war.

1882 painting “ Prince Vladimir chooses a religion in 988 (a religious dispute in the Russian court)”.  Prince Vladimir claimed to be descended from Vikings and used that to try to bring disparate kingdoms of Rus under him.  He tried to unite them with a Viking religion and finally with Christianity.  This painting shows idealized versions of a knight and warriors in the Russian court.

Feast of Vladimir the Red Sun, 1883

1927 illustration for the tale Niedrisu Vidvuds – This shows a Latvian folk hero or prince on horseback wielding a sword against a dragon.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

No post today.  Planning for real time tweet of Attack on Pearl Harbor starting 625am EST on twitter, account @warscholar

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Caracalla, tartan, Bronze Age helmet and WW1

The big news stories I came across today were the earliest depiction of a tartan found and the discovery of a Bronze Age helmet in Canterbury. 

A volunteer metal detectorist (didn’t know that was a word) in Canterbury, UK contacted an archaeology official saying he had found a Celtic bronze helmet.  Such a find would have been very rare for the UK.  The find appeared to consist of a late Iron Age brooch, some burnt bone and the helmet.  The site might have been an area where a cremation burial had taken place.  The nature of the find suggested the helmet was buried inverted and burnt bone may have been placed in it inside a bag secured by the brooch.  The burial might have been isolated or indicative of a burial ground in that area.

Illustration from the 1905 book Celtic Myth and Legend

The second interesting news story has to do with earliest depiction found of a Caledonian warrior.  Caledonia is now modern day Scotland.  A piece of a bronze statue of Emperor Caracalla, known as the conqueror of the Caledonians, has a small figure of what seems to be a Caledonian warrior wearing checkered leggings which appear to be tartan trews.  The statue was found in Morocco.  The Caledonian has a Celtic shield and appears to be bound.  He appears to be a captive of the campaigns of Severus and his son Caracalla.  (Update December 9, 2012: Many academics are disputing this claim that the statue depicts a Caledonian in a tartan.)

Caracalla, 3th century AD
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Caracalla was Roman emperor from 198 to 217 and was known for massacres and persecutions throughout the Empire.

Caracalla and his brother Geta from a 1907 painting

Caracalla snd Geta had been made co-emperors of Rome and even considered dividing it in half.  Their mother stopped the division and soon after Caracalla had Geta killed by Praetorian Guards loyal to him.

 Rondo of Emperor Septimius Severus and his family

I find this rondo to be extremely interesting.  I can’t find any sort of date on it but it shows the Emperor and presumably his wife and two sons, Geta and Caracalla.  One of the two brother’s faces has been smudged out of the artwork.  By whom and why is the question but it’s very interesting considering that the one brother killed the other.  I’ll contact the Berlin, Collection of Classical Antiquities to see if I can find additional information.

Finally, in World War 1 news, I found some very interesting links providing photos and information of Africans who fought in World War One and black Americans who fought in the same conflict.  These photo sites are definitely worth taking a look at since many of the photos are in color.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Crannog and London Blitz

Short on time today so just a quick post on a few items.  There was a recent announcement of a huge find in County Fermanagh in the UK. Apparently while doing highway construction, workers stumbled upon a crannog in Northern Ireland, the first found in the last 50 years.  30 houses have been uncovered and the area appears to have been inhabited from the 6th century to the 17th century and may be older.  So far they’ve only found domestic items, including bone handled knives, but I’ve put in a request to them to find out if anything of a more military nature may have been found.  The area has been used for 11 centuries so one would hope.  Story is found here.

I also stumbled upon a recently opened site mapping in detail the bombs that hit London during the London Blitz with information covering the bomb census of October 7, 1940 to June 6, 1941.  I realized the bombing was pretty intense but to see it mapped out this way is quite eye-opening and a bit frightening.  The map can be found here.

London Blitz, September 7, 1940 
(First of 57 consecutive days that London was bombed)

 Blitz Fire, unknown date

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Kimbell Art Museum

Today’s Military and War Art gallery is from the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas and can be found here.  Listed below are the pieces that can be found in this online gallery.  I have added additional graphics for your enjoyment and education.

Sculpture – Chibinda Ilunga, A Central African mythical hero figure perhaps with weapons

Late 15thC painting Portia and Brutus -  Brutus is the most famous of Roman general and statesman Julius Caesar’s assassins and served as Caesar’s Governor for Gaul before participating in Caesar’s assassination.

Julius Caesar receiving Vercingetorix

13th C sculpture of Vedic god Vishnu holding four objects including a mace

1625 Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Buckingham – George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham was an English courtier who involved himself in some of England’s wars.

c. 1516-1517 Portrait of Hendrik III, Count of Nassau-Breda – Hendrik was a count and successful military commander who had been involved in the War of the League of Cambrai and the Italian War of 1521.

February 24, 1525 Battle of Pavia, the decisive battle of the Italian War of 1521-152

c. 1650 Painting of Mucius Scaevola Confronting King Porsenna - Lars Porsena was an Etruscan king known for his wars against Rome about the 6th C BC.  Mucius Scaevola was a Roman youth who was reputed to have been captured by Porsena in 508BC after having tried to assassinate him in his camp.  Scaevola showed such courage after capture, Porsena was said to have freed him and sued Rome for peace. 

Sculpture of Etruscan warrior c. 500 BC
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

c. 1631-1633 Portrait of Don Pedro de Barberana – I don’t know what importance the man has but he has a sheathed sword which is enough for me.

1819 – Painting “The Anger of Achilles” – Achilles is a Greek hero of the Trojan War.

Achilles keeping Hector’s Body, from an Attic red-figured cup c. 490-480BC

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Battle of Austerlitz real time tweet

For an introduction and series of pictures and map associated with the December 2, 1805 Battle of Austerlitz, please go here You can also follow the real time tweet on twitter account @warscholar beginning December 1, 2012 345pm EST.

Napoleon Bonaparte
{{PD-1923}} – published before 1923 and public domain in the US.