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Customer reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars

TOP 100 REVIEWERon 26 June 2013
This Osprey publication may seem a bit unusual, because it largely lacks the historical context that can be found in most other volumes of the series. A fairer assessment would be to recognize the choice that the authors have deliberately made to concentrate on archaeological findings, to describe these and to use them as the basis for their reconstructions. To a large extent, their alternatives were limited simply because there were no primary written sources that they could make use of.

This is not to say that there is no discussion of the origins of the various waves of "Indo-Europeans", or the Cretans, for instance. Only that it is kept to a minimum with the authors, for instance, also clearly making the point that the existence of the "Minoan sea power" is nothing more than a theory dating back to Evans, even if it is a plausible and logical one, as they also show. Also interesting is the explanation given for the collapse of Minoan power. Again, this is a theory, to the extent that we do not know "know" for sure in the absence of written sources, but it is a rather plausible one. One last important point is that by the time of the "Trojan War" (assuming, again, that it really took place as indicated by Homer), Crete was divided into Achaean principalities with the Achaeans having conquered the island and ruling it for a couple of centuries

The main (and high!) value of this book lies in its descriptions centred on the various findings of pieces of arms and armour, on one hand, and the rather gorgeous reconstructions through the plates. At times, the descriptions of assorted arms and armour may read as some museum catalogue but with the added advantage that they are a selection from findings all over Greece and the Aegean. They are also superbly illustrated by sets of pictures and drawings.

Then there are the colour plates themselves which, when superb as they are here, are one of the main attractions of every Osprey volume. I was particularly impressed by the one of page 57 titled "the Achaean conquest of Knossos, 1430 BC" with the characters "feeling" so real that I had the impression that they were about to leap of the page! More generally, there is a rather good interaction between the plates, the pictures and drawings and the main text.

I also had two relatively minor points to raise - I cannot call them "issues". One was about the bibliography, where the authors referenced multiple and rather specialized titles but did not seem to recommend any book that could provide more context about the period. For instance, I was surprised not to find a reference to Oliver Dickinson's "The Aegean Bronze Age", although another of his works is cited. Maybe space constraints obliged the authors to make some hard choices and leave that one (and a few others perhaps) out. Another little quibble is a tendency to write about the various periods and using the rather specialised and hermetic acronyms (such as LH, LM etc...) without always providing the corresponding dates. The non-specialist reader is then obliged to "jump back and forth" at times to see what period is being covered exactly.

Anyway, these were quibbles more and the title was worth a solid four stars for me.
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on 12 January 2016
again very informative and an interesting read...
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