Welcome to the April edition, here we go from the wilds of the North American Frontier, with the Fur Trade, back in time to Macedonia and Greece.
Thank you to all of you that Pre Ordered the Longship. It has been a huge success. It is now sold out, but we are opening a wait list in case of a last minute cancelletion or in case a collector wants to sell it in the futue.
The Viking Ship has been delayed until Mid to Late May. The ship is ready to go, but due to the Covid restrictions in China the area where these are produced is still locked down. So they cannot be shipped to Hong Kong. As the situation is rapidly changing, please watch for updates.
Initially the travois was pulled by dogs. The basic dog travois consisted of two aspen or cottonwood poles, notched and lashed together at one end with buffalo sinew, with the other ends splayed apart. Cross bars are lashed between the poles near the splayed ends, and the finished frame looks like a large letter A with extra cross bars. The apex of the A, wrapped in buffalo skin to prevent friction burns, rests on the dog's shoulders, whilst the splayed ends drag over the ground. Women both built the travois and managed the dogs. Buffalo meat and firewood were typical travois loads. Although the dog travois were small, they were capable of pulling up to 20-30kg. In hot weather travel was slower as it was more tiring for the dogs. Dog travois can be seen in the paintings of Karl Bodmer.
By the mid 18th Century, the dog travois had given way to the horse travois. When dogs were replaced by horse, the greater pulling power allowed trips to increase in size and household goods to multiply. Instead of specially constructed sleds, the plains Indian tribes would simply cross a pair of tepee poles, across the back of the horse, and attach a burden platform between the poles behind the horse. This served two purposes at once, as the horses could then simultaneously carry the tepee poles and some additional baggage. Children often were able to ride in the back of the horse travois.
Some tribes it was also traditional to leave the tepee poles behind at the old camp, for use by the next tribe or family to camp there.
The Macedonian phalanx was an infantry formation developed by Philip II and used by his son Alexander the Great to conquer the Achaemenid Empire and defeat armies of other kingdoms. Phalanxes remained dominant on battlefields throughout the Hellenistic period, until they were ultimately displaced by the Roman Legions.
In 359 BC the Macedonian army led by the king Perdiccas III, was decidedly defeated by the Illyrians. Perdiccas' brother Philip II had been a hostage in Thebes for much of his youth, and what he had learned influenced his restructuring of the Macedonian infantry. Philip's military reforms were a new approach to the current hoplite warfare, which focused on their shield and thrusting spear. Philip's new focus was on a new weapon, the Sarissa. He called the soldiers in the phalanx Pezhetairoi, meaning "foot companions".
Each phalangite carried as his primary weapon a Sarissa, a double pointed pike over 18 foot in length. The Sarissae were carried in two pieces before a battle and then slid together when they were to be used. At close range such weapons were of little use, but an intact phalanx could easily keep its enemies at a distance. The weapons of the first few rows of men all projected beyond the front of the formation, so that there were more spear points than available targets at any given time. Men in rows behind the initial rows angled their sarissae at angles in an attempt to ward off arrows or other projectiles.
There was a secondary weapon called a xiphos, which was a short sword.
They also had a smaller and flatter shield than that of the Greek Hoplon. The shield was worn hung around the neck so as to free up both hands to wield the sarissa.
Neither Philip or Alexander actually used the phalanx as their arm of choice, but instead used it to hold the enemy in place while their heavy cavalry broke through the enemy ranks. The Macedonian cavalry fought in a wedge formation and was almost always stationed on the far right. The hypaspists an elite infantry unit were stationed on the immediate right of the phalanx wielding hoplite sized shields and spears. The left flank was generally covered by allied cavalry usually Thessalians, which fought in a rhomboid formation and served mainly in a defensive role.