Subject: e-qe-ta 'follower' as heavy infantryman
Culture: Achaean/late Mycenaean
Setting: Late Helladic, Aegean late 2nd millennium BC
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Chadwick 1976 p159
"Minoan society in Crete seems to have been relatively peaceful; military scenes are not common in art, and the latest frescoes from Thera are unusual in showing lines of armed troops and a fleet of warships. No Minoan towns seems to have been fortified. But with the coming of the Greeks to Crete in the second half of the fifteenth century, a change comes over the pacific face of society. Archaeologists were at first puzzled by the discovery of tombs of this period in the neighborhood of Knossos, which they named 'warrior tombs' from the weapons and armour discovered in them. This impression is now supported by the Linear B tablets at Knossos which list military equipment, though not apparently armed forces. Greek rule in Crete is distinguished by this warlike aspect."
* Snodgrass 1999 p28
"A great change came over the Aegean world after the Palace period. In arms and armour this shows itself by the disappearance of the air of luxury which hung over the previous centuries. No longer do we find extravagantly adorned swords and daggers, huge shields, or panoplies in graves. The monarchs and the nobility are still in evidence, at least until the destruction of the palaces; but it seems that their traditional values have been pushed aside by the force of external circumstances, and by insecurity in particular."
* Hopper 1976 p67-68
"A recent study has summed up the process from the archaeological standpoint, and placed it in a context of events covering a much wider area. There was a time of troubles beginning in the late thirteenth century BC, with many confusing shifts of population and raids, possibly caused originally by climatic changes, over-population and dearth, which destroyed the relative stability of the earlier thirteenth century BC in the eastern Mediterranean and in the regions to the north. Already in the thirteenth century there may have taken place the infiltration of 'northerners' as pastoralists, mercenaries and adventurers, introducing items of their equipment. In the first decades of the twelfth century there were attacks from various directions, 'quite possibly including a raid from as far as the middle Danube and the (equally important) return of the raiders, loaded with spoil and captive craftsmen. Some such theory is necessary to explain the relationship of weapon types from Greece and from eastern and central Europe. Apart from the movements of population, already mentioned, to the eastern Mediterranean, to settle in Cyprus and join the Sea Peoples, it is not unreasonable to place in this period other movements to Sicily, Sardinia and Italy, the Shardana perhaps to Sardinia, the Sheklesh to Sicily and the Tursha to Italy, even as the Peleset (Puleshti) settled in the eastern Mediterranean to become the Philistines. These are risky but justifiable conjectures. Further north new people came to Troy VII b. As for the incomers into the former Mycenaean area, it is suggested that:
A combination of factors, but chiefly ... the refugee movement from the Aegean, provided the irritant that set the cist-burying inhabitants of Albania and Greek Epirus travelling south into the political vacuum left by the break-up of the Mycenaean order, or else settling permanently where formerly they were seasonal visitors. They may have been accompanied by some returning refugees (or their descendants), in whom we may see a 'Return of the Herakleidai'. Such men would have kept fresh the memory of that lost Mycenaean world of grandeur and prosperity."
* Chadwick 1976 p72
"In societies of this type the king needs a group of nobles to act as his delegates and to enable him to impose his rule throughout his kingdom. This need is generally met by a class of aristocrats, often kin to the royal house, who provide the senior officers of the administration; they also form the élite troops of the army and command the levies of infantry. This class is represented in Mycenaean society by the hequetai or 'Followers.' The name is not to be taken too literally, for royal courts have always been full of officials whose duties do not correspond to their strange-sounding titles; but one of their duties must surely have been to follow the king and to attend on him, both in peace and war. There is an obvious parallel to 'Follower' in the words for 'companion' often used of the king's table-companions and intimate friends; the Latin comes has the same meaning, and is the word from which English count is derived."
* Higgins Armory Museum > Story of the Sword
"[....] The Mycenaean culture commemorated by Homer was dominated aristocratic warriors [SIC], carrying bronze weapons .... Mycenaean warrior-aristocrats were driven into battle in chariots, sometimes fighting from them, and sometimes dismounting to fight on foot, first casting spears at each other and then engaging with swords."
* Carman/Harding eds. 1999 p170 (Anthony Harding, "Warfare: A defining characteristic of Bronze Age Europe?" p157-173)
"Around 1,200 BC a new set of arms and armour came into use in the Aegean area. Most visible was the arrival in Greece of the flange-hilted sword of European type ('Naue II' sword), with a broad, sometimes leaf-shaped blade that was suited to both cutting and thrusting blows in combat. Flange-hilted daggers ('Peschiera daggers'), flame-shaped spearheads and certain items of defensive armour also came into use. These changes have often been considered part of a general shift, not only in warfare practices, but also, potentially, in populations, with northern influences, or at any rate forms that started life in central Europe, becoming widespread in the south. According to Drews:
the catastrophe [the decline of the major East Mediterranean cities around 1,200 BC] can most easily be explained ... as a result of a radical innovation in warfare, which suddenly gave to 'barbarians' the military advantage over the long established and civilized kingdoms of the eastern Mediterranean.
Specifically, the innovation was the invention of a new form of infantry warfare which was capable of resisting chariot attacks, and the means the infantry adopted was the javelin and the long sword:
Until shortly before 1200 BC ... it had never occurred to anyone that infantrymen with such weapons could outmatch chariots. Once that lesson had been learned, power suddenly shifted from the Great Kingdoms to motley collections of infantry warriors. These warriors hailed from barbarous, mountainous, or otherwise less desirable lands, some next door to the kingdoms and some far away." [references omitted]
* McCaffery 2022 January/February p41
"The success of... promachoi against spearmen would eventually provoke changes from ca.1300 BC onwards whereby heavy infantry became more mobile, with spears becoming shorter, some being equipped with swords, and the introduction of new shields in the forms of the round aspis and the 'inverted' pelta."
* Grguric/McBride 2005 p18-19
"The characteristically Mycenaean boar's-tusk helmet remained popular in the later period, but new patterns were also introduced. Thse are known as the 'horned helmet' and the 'hedgehog helmet', both terms being derived from the helmets' depicted appearance. As we have no surviving examples of these helmets the details of their construction are unclear. It is likely, however, that they were formed from hard leather. Both the 'horned' and the 'hedgehog' helmet are worn by the otherwise identically dressed warriors portrayed on the so-called 'Warrior Vase' from Mycenae, which is dated to about 1200 BC.
"The 'horned' helmet has projections at front and rear which come down to protect the brow and the nape of the neck, and another is drawn down to protect the temple. There is also a curious projection on top of the helmet, similar in profile to an axehead, to which a flowing plume is affixed. The helmet takes its name from the fact that two thin, curved horns are shown attached to the front. Whether or not the 'hedgehog' helmet was actually covered with the spined skin of the animal is impossible to know, but there is no real reason to dismiss the idea. The depictions of it on the Warrior Vase show it as being of simple conical shape and covered with short spikes."
* Snodgrass 1999 p31-32
"The Pylos corselet-tablets ... illustrate what is evidently a helmet, placed above the corselet-ideogram to complete a set, but drawn in so schematic a way as to be impossible to identify. From vase-paintings, however, we learn of new helmet types at this period. Like the other armour, they are clearly in the main non-metallic; on both sides of the Warrior Vase they are shown running for-and-aft in the manner of a deer-stalker, and dotted with white spots like the kilts worn by some of the same figures, which again is most likely to signify metal discs on a backing of hide or other animal-skin. Some of them also incorporate a prominent horn or tusk above the forehead piece; occasionally an unwrought boar's tusk has been found in Mycenaean graves, with or without the worked plates, and here we have a plausible illustration of its use. At the same time we must note that the traditional boars' tusk helmet could also occasionally survive. A second warrior grave at Kallithea, dating from well after the destruction of Pylos and most ofthe other great Mycenaean centres, produced cut plates on the old pattern. This is a strikingly late context for a type which had been thought long obsolete, and it may help to explain the survival, in the Homeric Iliad, of a close description of one of these helmets."
* Russell 1983 p56 (describing the Warrior Vase, 1200 B.C.)
"The colander-shaped helmets are studded with metal nails, or bosses, and have boars' tusks and animal tails, while the spears also carry a pendant animal tail or leather pouch."
* Snodgrass 1999 p30-31
"New developments in strategy, which entailed more forced marches, longer expeditions and generally greater mobility than before, would have been hindered by the weight of plate-armour, and were probably equally responsible for the change. From all that we know, it seems not unlikely that the consideration also applied in the thirteenth and twelfth centuries BC. If larger armies were also the rule now, this might well mean a lowering of the general standard of armour; the raw material, and no doubt the skill, for bronze-working were always circumscribed in Mycenaean Greece.
"The Dendra type of corslet is not seen, on surviving evidence, after the fourteenth century. Instead there are signs of a quite different form, or perhaps several forms, of body-protection. We see it in a famous painting on a bowl of the very late Mycenaean period, the Warrior Vase found at Mycenae itself. This vase shows the soldiers wearing stiff jerkins or corslets, which stand well out from the body but are almost certainly non-metallic, with decorated borders. These are worn with fringed skirts or kilts, which also have an outlined border and are in some cases dotted with white circles, probably representing the metal discs of a type of armor noted earlier. The jerkins can be seen to possess long sleeves, of one piece with the body of the garment. Other fragments of vase-paintings confirm that the sleeved corslet was in common use, and the very indistinct ideogram on the Pylos tablets shows what appear to be short sleeves; the evidence for this type will then extend from rather before 1200 to decidedly later. The only likely relic of one of these corslets comes from a grave of the twelfth century at Kallithea in Achaea; here were found long thin strips of embossed bronze, suitable for attachment to a leather corslet, and perhaps represented by the outlined border of the Warrior Vase corslets."
* Grguric/McBride 2005 p17-18
"With ... smaller shields came a need for body armour for the heavy infantry, and corselets were introduced for Mycenaean warriors from c.1200 BC. There are some excellent depictions of troops accoutred in this way on the so-called 'Warrior Vase' and 'Warrior Stele' from Mycenae. These corselets appear to have been made of leather with copper or bronze scales sewn on. The depicted warriors also wear leather skirts that reach to mid-thigh, which would also be reinforced with bronze scales. Although the most notable depictions of this dress come from Mycenae, several other sites show troops similarly equipped, suggesting that its use was widespread.
"The later period also saw the introduction of greaves for infantry, metal greaves coming into vogue apparently quite suddenly in around 1200 BC. The adoption of metal greaves was probably linked to the fact that throughout most of the Mycenaean period men protected their legs with leather 'spats' when at work in the fields. The bronze greaves cannot have been very effective since they were relatively thin, one extant pair being only 2mm thick; modern experiments have shown that even a thickness of 3mm can be cut through entirely with a slashing sword. After the middle of the 12th century BC greaves disappear from the archaeological record, so it seems that their use in the early part of that century was a short-lived experiment."
* Russell 1983 p56
"The best image of male costume from Mycenae happens to be that of warriors who appear in procession on the famous Warrior Vase in the National Museum at Athens, dated about 1200 B.C. They wear fringed tunics with long sleeves, probably made of leather. They seem to have tight leather hose or leggings gartered above the knee and tightly wrapped sandals to the ankle."
* Snodgrass 1999 p29
"The latest Mycenaean spears in some ways repeat the story of the swords. Here again there is a sharp reduction in size and an elimination of ornament; the commonest type is medium-sized, with a leaf-shaped blade and a flat midrib extending to the tip. Again, there are at least a few examples which show associations with Central Europe, notably the spearheads with a flame-shaped outline to their blades. A handful of these have been found in Greece, mostly in the north-west; they were perhaps introduced by a route down the Adriatic. Spearheads also provide evidence for strong links between Greece and Cyprus. Cyprus had long been of interest to the Mycenaeans as a source for the copper and tin which their bronze-based civilization so badly needed; but after about 1200 it is clear that large numbers of Mycenaeans were actually emigrating to Cyprus. Many objects of Mycenaean type appear in Cyprus now, and they include some small and rather crude reproductions of the great 'one-piece' spearheads of the Palace period, long since out of date in Greece. Both Greece and Cyprus also adopt teh bronze spear-butt, a spike with a hollow socket to fit on to the butt-end of the wooden shaft."
* Grguric/McBride 2005 p16
"In the later Mycenaean period the large body shields and long spears fell out of use. The later Mycenaean spear became much shorter, at around 5-6ft, still tipped with a socketed spearhead. This allowed it to be wielded with one hand, freeing the other for gripping the shield."
* Grguric/McBride 2005 p16
"From the beginning of the 14th century BC a new type of sword seems to have been favoured, perhaps due to broadening contacts with the Near East. The old thrusting sword continued in use during the 14th century BC, but was being replaced by a two-edged slashing sword. This new weapon had square shoulders, and these, as well as the hilt, are flanged. The blade is broad, with a widening towards the tip, and has no mid-rib. The earliest examples most probably date to the second half of the 14th century BC. The appearance of these slashing swords is evidence for a change that Mycenaean heavy infantry underwent during the later period, when warriors became lighter and more mobile, suggesting that they fought in more open formations than previously.
"Mycenaean infantry carried their swords in a scabbard, sometimes tasselled, worn at the left waist slung from a shoulder belt. This sword served as a secondary weapon for the early heavy infantryman; it would have been useful either if the spear broke, or after the initial push of spear had inevitably developed into a close-quarter mêlée."
* Snodgrass 1999 p28-29
"The great weapons of the sixteenth and fifteenth centuries have almost completely disappeared; swords are now shorter, stouter and more workmanlike, with strong hilting-devices and flattish, straight-edged blades. The most convincing reason suggested for this is that, with the decline in security as the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean were affected by new raids and migrations, it became common practice to carry a sword in everyday life, and for this purpose the splendid rapiers of earlier days had become too unwieldy and expensive. Some of the new swords are so short that they are difficult to distinguish from daggers and general-purpose knives or choppers, and the most characteristic sword of the late period did indeed develop from a short flat knife: no example is as much as two feet long. A small specimen of this type even reached Pelyut in Cornwall. But this type of weapon was competing, ultimately without success, against a new and efficient sword that was standardized and mass-produced to a degree not before achieved in Greece; this is normally known by its German classification as the 'Griffzungenschwert'. It is distributed over an extraordinarily wide range of space and time, and it lives on, translated into iron, after the Bronze Age has ended. It is found in many parts of Europe besides the Aegean; since the most numerous, best-made and probably earliest examples have occurred in Central Europe, it is now generally accepted that the sword developed there, perhaps in the Hungarian plain, although the bulk of the actual examples found in Greece were probably made locally. The fact that these swords appear in Greece distinctly before the fall of the Mycenean palaces suggests that they were wielded by the Myceneans themselves, or possibly by European mercenaries in their service. The type had a flanged hilt -- nothing new in itself -- but with a distinctive, curvilinear outline and usually two 'ears' branching out at the top; the T-shaped cast pommel is abandoned. The weapon must have been superior to its rivals and not too difficult to produce, as is suggested by its simultaneous acceptance in Cyprus, the Levant and Egypt."
* Chadwick 1976 p171-172
"Evans had called attention to a cache of tablets (Ra) showing pictures of what appear to be short swords. It is difficult from the sketch to be sure whether these are swords, somewhat foreshortened by the need to draw them in vertical position on a horizontally arranged tablet, or whether they really are daggers. The problem is not resolved by the word used on the tablets to describe them; pa-ka-na is certainly the Homeric phasgana, and in Homer this is one of three words in use for 'swords'. But the analogy of other words suggests that the Homeric use may have been a later confusion of terms which in Mycenaean had distinct meanings, so that 'daggers' remains an equally plausible translation.
"[....] At Pylos this word for 'sword' or 'dagger' does not recur; but a strange tablet which belongs with the inventory of vessels and furniture (Ta 716) records two swords; the word is here the classical xiphos, though the spelling is surprising."
* D'Amato/Salimbeti/Rava 2011 p14-15
"The true revolution in bladed weaponry came with the introduction of the slashing sword, described by Homer, which was able to cut through both flesh and armour. This weapon, also known as the grip-tongue sword, was one of the most enduring of all sword types. First appearing in the Late Bronze Age, it lasted well into the Iron Age -- a span of 500-700 years -- and it was made both in bronze and in iron.
"According to some authors this model originated in Central Europe. They argue that as early as 1450 BC in northern Italy smiths were coming up with this type of sword. It initially spread into Central Europe, Scandinavia and the British Isles. By 1300-1200 BC it had spread to Greece, Crete, the Aegean Islands, the Levant, Palestine and Egypt.
"The Naue II type of sword ranges from 50-85cm in length. Most had straight sides, narrowing at the point, but a few in both bronze and iron swelled slightly towards the tip, giving them a leaf-like shape. Some had midribs, often occupying most ofthe blade's width, whilst others were lens-shaped and a few were diamond-shaped when viewed in cross section. The hilt (tang) was flanged, and the hilt plates were set within the flanges and riveted."
* Coe/Connolly/Harding/Harris/La Rocca/Richardson/North/Spring/Wilkinson p13 (Anthony Harding, "Stone, bronze and iron" p8-19)
"[T]he standard short sword of the late Mycenaean period (1200-1100 BC) ... had a broad blade 12-16 ins/30-40 cm long which tapered sharply towards the tip, square flanged shoulders, a straight flanged hilt, and an integral T-shaped pommel. It was not a glorious weapon, but it seems to have been popular over a wide area. An example is known from southern Italy and a fragment is even to be found in Truro Museum in Cornwall, allegedly found in a barrow near the Cornish village of Pelynt. Whether these weapons in foreign parts are the result of adventurers, far-flung trading enterprises, or modern collecting is hard to say, but there is good evidence, on other grounds, for a direct connection between Greece and the distant shores of Albion in the Bronze Age."
* Snodgrass 1999 p32-33
"The great body-shield has now apparently gone, and in its place is shown a much smaller shield, held by a hand-grip. As in the previous period, the tablets give us no help, but the representations are clear. A small, circular shield is the commonest variety, but there are several uncanonical shapes. The line of soldiers on the front of the Warrior Vase have roughly circular ones, but with a segment cut out of the lower edge; the men on the back have elliptical shields, and in one case a hand-grip is shown, unheld, which implies a neck-strap of the kind used with the body-shield. The warriors on the rather earlier fragments from Iolkos have shields which again have recessed segments, but this time on each side; the effect is like a modified and drastically reduced form of the old figure-of-eight shield. These shields must all be largely of hide, like their predecessors, but they may have had a metal accessory in the shape of one or more large bronze discs, about six inches across, with a domed centre and sometimes a protruding spike. Such discs occur occasionally in warrior-graves from the latest Mycenaean period onwards; and although different explanations have been given for their use, it is now certain that some of them served as bosses for the outer face of a hide shield. A twelfth-century grave at Mouliana in Crete produced the earliest specimens, but more impressive evidence comes from Cyprus in a slightly later period, a find which also shows that a metal border could be attached to such a shield."
* D'Amato/Salimbeti/Rava 2011 p21
"Another type of body shield used during the Late Helladic period is the circular or oval one with two cuts on both sides, which allowed it to be more easily wielded when fighting with sword and spear. This shield, sometimes wrongly confused with the figure-of-eight variety, was still utilized during Geometric and Archaic times, and archaeologists generally knew it as the 'Dipylon shield'. Taking this denomination as a reference we can name the Late Helladic variant of this shield a 'proto-Dipylon shield'. This body shield was probably made of several layers of hide sewn onto a wicker frame and sometimes reinforced with metal bosses or plates placed on the shield's external surface and edge.
"The earliest representations of proto-Dipylon shields are from a glass-like pulp from Crete, an ivory pendant from Menidi and a stone sculpture from Mycenae probably dating from LH IIIC. Proto-Dipylon shields are also represented on two pendants from Eutresis in Beotia and from a grave in Athens, both dating from LH IIIC. Although their dimensions cannot be ascertained from this depiction, these were more likely medium-sized shields rather than body shields."
* Chadwick 1976 p163-164
"Mycenaean art has plenty of pictures of shields, apparently made of ox-hide and sometimes reinforced by metal bosses. The huge figure-of-eight shields of the earlier Mycenaean period were often used later as decoration, as in the famous shield fresco in the palace of Knossos. Yet there appears to be no record in our tablets of shields. We have ox-hides, but they are used, as far as we can tell, for other purposes. There is no ideogram which looks like a shield, nor any word which can be equated with classical or Homeric words for various kinds of shield. Set alongside the information we do have on weapons and body-armour, the absence of shields from the documents is puzzling. It is just possible that the shields lie hidden beneath a conventional ideogram which we have failed to recognize; but as more and more of the series of tablets can be assigned a function in the archives, this seems progressively less likely. We can only suppose that the palace did not reckon to supply such equipment to its troops; indeed it is not improbable that the weapons of the ordinary infantry-man were his own responsibility, and such supplies as the palace arsenal contained were for the officer class only."
* Grguric/McBride 2005 p19
"It is only from that later period that evidence is found for the Mycenaean warrior using footwear. The soldiers depicted on the Warrior Vase have cross-hatching on their feet, suggesting that they are wearing sandals. This is supported by the discovery at Mallia of a model of a sandalled foot."