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Ancient Greek Fortifications 500-330 BC (Fortress) Paperback – 11 Jan 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (11 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841768847
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841768847
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 0.4 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 902,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Dr Nic Fields started his career as a biochemist before joining the Royal Marines. Having left the military, he went back to University and completed a BA and PhD in Ancient History at the University of Newcastle. He was Assistant Director at the British School at Athens, Greece, and then a lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Edinburgh. Nic is now a freelance author and researcher based in south-west France.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By F. Aetius on 14 July 2008
Format: Paperback
Ancient Sparta was famous for being the only city state in mainland Greece that had no walls, but Sparta aside, the Greeks took great care in putting up defences for its citizens.

Nic Fields looks at the development of these walls, from the famous defences of Athens and Mantinea to the financing, labour, planning, building materials and masonry styles needed for the defence of the City-State. Along the way he discusses the manning of these walls, as well as conveying information on the size of ammunition needed for the catapults.

Towards the end of the book he provides a series of 'Case Studies' which look at how these sites were defended during times of war, using the siege of Syracuse, Plataia, and Mantinea as examples.

Good but very basic and unimaginative colour plates, photographs of the sites as well as maps help complete the book.

This book could have been a much better introduction to the subject, but it loses its focus towards the end, as the author goes on to discuss unrelated topics like Hoplite warfare and the phalanx. The writing can get rather dry sometimes, but generally speaking the rest of the book is well written and informative.

I can imagine that students of Ancient Greece will find this book rather useful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Zacharias on 3 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well written and informative with many photographs and diagrammes. Some of the photos would have benefited from more planning / fill-in flash but are far better than a lack of photographs.

Very interesting book with far more information and analysis than is expected from the kiddie-style cover. The book makes it easy to re-live old school-time favorites like the battle of Syracuse in a very graphic way.
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By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a rather good overview of fortifications in the West (essentially continental Greece and Sicily) during the fifth and fourth centuries BC.

The section on buildings methods is careful to link these to both financial and labour constraints with the title beginning with these down-to-earth and very practical limitations. This, in turn, largely informs the heavy and extensive use of mud bricks with stone only being used for the foundations and lower levels. The various masonry styles are presented a bit quickly - they are for instance more developed in the Osprey title on Greek fortifications in Asia Minor - although this seems to have been a deliberate choice made by Nic Field and it does give him more room for his overview of a selection of major sites.

The sites selected include Athens, with a relatively long section showing how the City Walls, the Long Walls and the fortifications of Pireas were built and updated over time. Two other interesting choices are that of the city of Messene and Mantinea, both of which were built after the Thebans had broken the Spartans at Leuktra (BC 371) as part of the cordon of city fortresses (the third was Megalopolis) which were meant to hem them in. Other choices include border forts controlling major access points and roads, for instance in the Megarid and to Attica.

The section on "the sites at war" includes the siege of Platea, that of Syracuse (the only fortress West of Greece to be included in this volume) and that of Mantinea by the Spartans, before the city was rebuilt. Also included, almost as an afterthought, is the siege of Paphos in Cyprus by the Persians in 498 BC. A number of sieges have been left out. There is nothing, for instance, on any of the sieges conducted by Philip of Macedon.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fairly good overview of its topic... 18 Aug. 2008
By Yoda - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This volume on fortifications follows Osprey's standard format for the "fortifications" series. Chapter 1 covers building methods, the second provides details on 5 sample fortifications, chapter three provides a an overview of the nature of conflict for the ancient Greeks and the role fortifications played therein, the fourth chapter provides examples of some sieges of fortifications and the last chapter provides details on some of the sites today. With respect to all of these chapters, given the fact they are only a few pages long (the entire book is only about 60 pages in length) does a very good job in terms of an introduction. The illustrations are especially good and are very well supplemented by the author's own collection of photographs. The photos and cut-away drawings give an especially good idea of how the various portions of the fortifications looked like and what functions they served. The photos also give one an exellent impression of how many of these look like today. In addition, considerable work has been done on incorporating the views of ancient authorities on the role of fortifications and histories of sieges.

All and all a very good investment of one hour's worth of reeading if that is all you can spare for an introduction to this topic.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good overview of Greek fortifications in the West 5 Jan. 2014
By JPS - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a rather good overview of fortifications in the West (essentially continental Greece and Sicily) during the fifth and fourth centuries BC.

The section on buildings methods is careful to link these to both financial and labour constraints with the title beginning with these down-to-earth and very practical limitations. This, in turn, largely informs the heavy and extensive use of mud bricks with stone only being used for the foundations and lower levels. The various masonry styles are presented a bit quickly - they are for instance more developed in the Osprey title on Greek fortifications in Asia Minor - although this seems to have been a deliberate choice made by Nic Field and it does give him more room for his overview of a selection of major sites.

The sites selected include Athens, with a relatively long piece showing how the City Walls, the Long Walls and the fortifications of Pireas, which were built and updated over time. Two other interesting choices are those of the cities of Messene and Mantinea, both of which were built after the Thebans had broken the Spartans at the battle of Leuktra (BC 371). They were part of the cordon of city fortresses (the third was Megalopolis) which were meant to contain the Spartans. Other choices include border forts controlling major access points and roads, in the Megarid and in Attica.

The section on "the sites at war" includes the siege of Platea, that of Syracuse (the only fortress West of Greece to be included in this volume) and that of Mantinea by the Spartans, before the city was rebuilt. Also included, almost as an afterthought, is the siege of Paphos in Cyprus by the Persians in 498 BC. A number of sieges have been left out. There is nothing, for instance, on any of the sieges conducted by Philip of Macedon. Many sites have also had to be omitted including those of Northern Greece and Thrace, or Magna Graecia and Italy. Also missing are the fortifications of Syracuse that kept the Carthaginians at bay several times, as developed during the fourth century.

The section titled "Nature of conflict and society" is also interesting. It includes developments of hoplite warfare that go some way towards explaining why siege craft was initially underdeveloped in Greece. Having mentioned this, the topic of hoplite warfare covers some 7 pages. It may have been given a bit too much space at the expense of siege warfare, the real topic of this title although, to be fair, the author does make a good case for introducing it.

Finally, the plates, photos and diagrams are good and support the main narrative rather well. This title is therefore worth a solid four stars and offers a good overview, introduction and starting point for anyone interested in Greek fortifications during the "Classical" period (as opposed to the Hellenistic period).
Ancient Greek Fortifications 12 Jan. 2014
By John Sloan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very clearly written and with excellent illustrations as usual in this series. Many general popular accounts of Greek warfare do not do justice to the role of fortifications - thus this book is a valuable addition and reference.
john sloan
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