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Главная страница » Библиотека » Ю.А. Виноградов, В.А. Горончаровский. «Военная история и военное дело Боспора Киммерийского (VI в. до н. э. — середина III в. н. э.)»


War History and Warfare of the Cimmerian Bosporus (6th century B.C. — middle of the 3rd century A.D.) by Ju.A.Vinogradov and V.A. Goroncharovskiy

The Cimmerian Bosporus — the name used for the Kerch Gulf and the adjacent territory in Antiquity — saw pioneering Greek newcomers who established several colonies there in the first half of the 6th century B.C., such as Panticapaeum, Nymphaeum, Phanagoria, etc.. It was in the Cimmerian Bosporus that the largest ancient state was founded within the Northern Pontic area — the Greek-barbarian Bosporan kingdom. Its military history is interesting in many aspects, of which one of the most important aspects demonstrates the particularities of the adaptation of the Greek military system to specific military-political and demographic conditions of the region under review. Undoubtedly the Greeks brought to the northern coast of the Black Sea the system of warfare that had formed by that time in the mother country, and finds of genuine Greek weapons coming from the earliest archaeological contexts of the region are quite natural. However, under conditions of the Northern Pontic area this system seems to have been sufficiently quickly transformed by adapting to the local milieu. The available archaeological evidence reveals here Scythian, Maeotic and Sarmatian influences. This adaptation became apparent, first of all, in the increasing role of cavalry troops, archers, etc. Local Greek nobles were most likely the best susceptible to these influences.

Part I of this book is devoted to the period from the appearance of Greeks on the coast of the Cimmerian Bosporus to the death of Mithridates VI Eupatores and opens with chapter 1 «Greeks and barbarians on the Cimmerian Bosporus. Problems of coexistence.» The most important feature of the Greek colonies of the Northern Pontic area was the fact that they interacted with a very mobile world of Eurasian nomads. Periodical movements of nomads from east to west (approximately once every 200—300 years) caused serious changes in the military-political situation in the region, thereby influencing the development of all the peoples and states adjacent to the steppe zone. Nomadic invasions of new territories led, as a rule, to military crises, lengthy wars, etc. Among the Greek states of the Black Sea coast the Cimmerian Bosporus was situated as the very first advanced post on the route of barbarian movements from the east. Several phases in its history may be named as crises or even catastrophes (480 B.C.; around 270 B.C.; second half of the 2nd century B.C.; and probably some other ones as well, although they are not so evident yet). In all likelihood these crises were closely connected with the movements of new nomadic tribes going westwards.

Chapter 2 is entitled «The Bosporus in the struggle against Scythian aggression». The Bosporan Greeks were able to successfully resist the Scythian threat in 480 B.C. by entering into a defensive alliance with the ruling dynasty of the Archeanactides at its head. There are valid grounds to believe that the Archeanactides used the contradictions that were in existence among the barbarian tribes of the Northern Pontic area to great success.

Chapter 3 is entitled «The Spartocides create Power». Simultaneously with the increasing role of cavalry in the Bosporus, the significance of civil militia forces was diminishing, and as such disappeared altogether after the establishment of the Spartocides' power. A considerable factor of international policy in the Black Sea northern coast under the Early Spartocides was the Bosporan-Scythian alliance, which set a sufficiently quiet, stable situation for a long time, thereby influencing the heyday of material culture in the 4th century B.C. throughout the region in question. Close relations with the Scythians promoted to some degree a transformation of the Bosporan military system, which had begun sometime earlier through the strengthening of local borrowings.

Chapter 4 is entitled «The Bosporan kingdom between Scythians and Sarmatians». After the collapse of Great Scythia at the turn of the 4th — 3rd centuries B.C., the most important place in the system of relations of the Bosporan state with the barbarian world was occupied by the Sarmatians. For this reason, Sarmatian features came to manifest themselves in Bosporan warfare. In spite of such a transformation the Bosporan army was not, nevertheless, a version of Barbarian troops. It always kept a Greek army which differed drastically from armed forces of barbarian tribes, viz. in armament, battle formation, ways of conducting military actions, etc. There was an active relationship between the colonies and the mother country, including in the field of warfare. All the main achievements in the military sphere were permanently brought from the Mediterranean Greek world to the Bosporus by professional soldiers; mercenaries who were invited for military service by the kings of the Bosporus with pleasure. During various historical phases there served as mercenaries the natives arriving from many lands of Greece, as well as the Thracians and Celts. A combination in the Bosporan army under the Spartokides of the three principal components — aristocratic cavalry troops, detachments of Greek and other mercenaries, and contingents of allied barbarian tribes — made it possible to solve highly complex military problems that were inspired by global military-political and ethnical changes in the Northern Pontic area for almost three centuries (as, for instance, in the second quarter of the 3rd century B.C.).

Chapter 5 is entitled «Bosporus in the structure of the State of Mithridates VI Eupators». Only the serious system and political crisis which began in the Bosporus, like in the other Greek states of the Northern Black Sea coast, within the latter half of the 2nd century B.C., resulted in the downfall of the Spartocides and the transition of power to Mithridates VI, the king of Pontus. One of the most important reasons of such a course of events seems to have consisted in the absence of any reliable support among barbarians of the region for establishing a long-term alliance that would have been a guarantor of stability both in the Bosporus and in the lands adjacent to it.

After the defeat and death of Mithridates VI (in 63 B.C.) as a result of his struggle against Rome, the Greek states of the Northern Pontic area, including the Bosporan kingdom, fell into the Romans' control and moved farther northeastwards — into the very thick of warlike tribes who were dangerous to the civilized world. The new historical realities undoubtedly had an influence upon the warfare of the Bosporan realm, although this influence remained, as a matter of principle, within the course of those regularities which had been outlined by the entire preceding development.

Part II of this book «From the reign of Farnaces to the beginning of the Gothic wars» is devoted to the study of warfare in the Bosporan kingdom in the epoch of Roman political influence (63 B.C to the middle of the 3rd century A.D.). It is very important to elaborate on the problems of history of this period. These problems developed under conditions of an appreciable barbarian cultural environment. In this period specific local conditions caused a serious transformation of Bosporan arms and armour, and battle tactics as well. This process went too far on the turn of the Eras, as one can see an intensive influx of Sarmatians into the structure of the Bospo-ran population and its militarization of the period. At the same time the Bosporan kingdom as a vassal of the Roman empire partly perceived achievements of its warfare. This part is an attempt to give a complete essay of the warfare and military history of the Bosporan kingdom in the Roman period as is possible proceeding from the available kinds of evidence, viz. data of the ancient literary and epigraphic sources, archaeology and pictorial art.

Chapter 1, entitled «The Organization of the Bosporan Army», deals with the command structure and composition of troops consisting of cavalry and infantry. The army was divided into units of guards, mercenaries, military settlers and, as a reserve force, city civil home guards. Furthermore, military contingents of dependent tribes and allies from the neighbouring peoples were also used. An analysis of the written, epigraphic and pictorial material shows that the barbarian environment and contacts with Rome were of certain importance for the nature of Bosporan warfare.

Chapter 2, entitled «Offensive and Defensive Weapons», examines one of the main sources — archaeological finds of weapons. The principal attention is paid to specifics of Bosporan arms and armour. There is a brief review of the current state of examining swords, daggers, spears, javelins, bows and arrows, helmets, corselets and shields, as well as a description of their available specimens. For many of them very close analogies can be found in different regions of the Sarmatian world. This must be explained as being a result of cultural exchange between Bosporan warriors and nomads residing in the Northern Pontic steppe area. For instance, the long swords and composite bows of the so-called «Hun» type, both typical for nomadic warfare, became popular in the Bosporan army during Roman times. Also, the concept of employing heavily-armed cavalrymen ("cataphracts») was borrowed from Sarmatian nomads.

Chapter 3, entitled «The Bosporan army on battle fields», has to do with the study of problems of strategy and tactics of the Bosporan army and their reflection in scenes of works of pictorial art. It is necessary to underline that Bosporan commands carried strategic plans which were mainly defensive in character. Large offensive war operations, undoubtedly, had to be coordinated with the Roman administration of the province of Bithynia-Pontos. A special section in this chapter is devoted to analysis of battle scenes in Bosporan decorative painting.

Chapter 4, «Defense organization of the State», is devoted to variatons of long-term defense of state borders. Such were earth ramparts, fortified settlements with a citadel, and fortresses lying on the ways to the capital city on the shore of Cimmerian Bosporus. This entire system of defense functioned at least from the late 40s of the 1st century B.C., i. e. King Asandros' reign, up to the middle of the 3rd century A.D., when it was destroyed in the course of Germanic invasions (the so-called «Gothic» wars).

Chapter 5, entitled «The Bosporus on the turn of epochs: from independence to the status of a vassal state», deals with events of the military history of the Bosporan kingdom over one hundred years — from Phamaces' rule (63—47 B.C.) through the middle of the 1st century A.D., when the Bosporus had gradually been included in the orbit of Roman policy. Thus the events connected with the Bosporan war of 45—49 A.D. are considered in detail. Finally, chapter 6, «Between the Roman empire and barbarians», is devoted to the period of the strong military and political union between Rome and the Bosporus. During these two-hundred years military organization in the Bosporan kingdom passed from blossoming to decline caused by the movement of German tribes to the Northeast Black Sea coast.

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