History – Achaeans

History – Achaeans

Achaeans

In this article we will see: “Achaeans”, history, the chronicle of human civilization, serves as a window to the past, illuminating the triumphs, struggles, and evolution of societies over millennia. Through the study of historical events, we unravel the complexities of our collective heritage and gain insight into the forces shaping our present and future.

Summary : History – Achaeans

In the ancient world of the Peloponnese, amidst the rise of the Achaeans, a saga unfolds. This tale chronicles the prowess of kings, the art of war, and the splendor of Mycenae. Through the lens of history, we glimpse into a civilization shaped by trade, fortified by defense, and enriched by culture. Join us as we journey through the corridors of power, where kings ruled with might and magnificence, and where legends were born.

History – Achaeans

The plains of the Peloponnese were, at that time, crisscrossed by the swift chariots of warriors and prince-warriors. They were the new masters of a new land: the Achaeans. Their kings claimed to be the sons of Pelops, a hero and powerful leader from whom the Peloponnese derived its name. Pelops, according to the Achaeans, was the son of a god. More likely, he descended from some European invader.

When the first merchant ships from Crete appeared, the cunning and resourceful Achaean warriors transformed into traders. They embarked on the cultivation of the olive tree, whose fruits they crushed. Olive oil became a universal product: it replaced butter and grease, served as fuel for lamps, and was highly appreciated for hair care.

The Achaeans gained wealth. For a century, from 1500 to 1400 BCE, this ingenious people turned Mycenae into a stronghold. This city, located near the Isthmus of Corinth, was dominated by a formidable fortress where the entire population could take refuge if necessary. When the royal trumpets – sirens of that era – sounded, everyone understood that the enemy was near.

Farmers would rush from their fields. People would leave their houses. Everyone hurried to climb the hill and pass through the castle gates. Considerable stocks of food piled up in the basement of the gigantic fortress. No famine to fear! Nor was there any risk of water shortage because a very deep well had been drilled to meet everyone’s needs.

Once the gates were closed, they were solidly braced. From then on, the king and his people were able to withstand a siege of several weeks, even several months. The Achaeans also had means to fight their enemies. The assailants who tried to force their way in made admirable targets for the archers posted above them. Those who attempted to climb the walls were met with showers of rocks, when they were not drenched in boiling oil.

Those, finally, who had the rather relative luck of climbing to the top, were welcomed in another way. In general, they found themselves quickly at the bottom, with their helmets and skulls properly split. In fact, the defense of the Achaeans was so well organized that they had very few occasions to use it. The prudent enemy preferred to keep their distance, and foreigners eager to visit Mycenae presented themselves with the most peaceful intentions in the world.

To these, at least, a warm welcome was extended. An important visitor, anyone traveling by chariot, was greeted pompously and allowed to climb the ramp leading to the inner courtyard of the palace. The palace in question was as splendid as that of the late King Minos. The antechamber, where visitors were asked to wait before being called into the throne room, offered them the comfort of soft beds. For those who wished to rid themselves of the dust of the road, a bath was offered.

A truly important person had the distinguished privilege of being able to cleanse themselves in the king’s personal bath. As can be seen, the rulers of Mycenae had a very keen sense of hospitality.

Muscular servants were responsible for filling the bathtub by pouring the contents of jars of scented water… and anointing you with oil if desired. They even kindly offered you a cup of wine to recover from their vigorous massages. After the bath, if you still had a little life left, you were entitled to an additional kneading. The Achaeans had found a very simple way to make perfumed oils. To pure olive oil, they simply added various aromatic herbs that grew abundantly on the nearby hills.

The king of Mycenae was more than just a commander-in-chief and head of state; he was also a merchant! He took pride in his trade as much as in his army and his people. The cellars of his castle contained incredible quantities of oil jars destined for sale. Scribes kept his records, controlling stocks, the departure and arrival of merchant ships, sales, etc. They also compiled lists of the number of chariots, troop movements, weapons sold to soldiers, furniture ordered by the palace, and royal tableware.

The men who surrounded the king no longer resembled, at that time, the fierce warriors their ancestors had been… By associating with the Cretans, who were so attentive to the care of their bodies, they had refined themselves. Like the Cretans, they wore short leather trousers or loincloths and did not disdain jewelry. However, despite their elegant attire, they remained fierce soldiers, both courtiers and warriors. They wielded the lance and the sword. Their bronze armor was adorned with gold inlays.

The plumes on their helmets were just a fanciful touch to brighten up an essential piece of a warrior’s attire. The helmet itself had a visor that protected the face… and made it particularly hideous. The complete armor, with inlays, visor, and guaranteed “uglifiers”, was not within everyone’s budget. Only nobles could afford one! These nobles were mostly known as the “king’s companions”. In case of need, it was up to them to fight to defend his person and his people.

At the time, indeed (the golden age of foot soldiers!), it was not common to see entire armies facing each other. Custom dictated that only a few noble knights would jump onto their chariots to meet the enemy’s challenge. Thus, it happened several times that kingdoms were lost and won as a result of single combat, each of the adversaries being the champion of his people. In addition to war and trade, there was a place for entertainment.

The kings of Mycenae willingly opened their doors to poets and wandering singers whose repertoire consisted of hymns to the gods and famous warriors. These stories of the ancient Achaeans, more generally known as “Greek legends”, have been transmitted through the ages to ultimately reach us.

Last word about : History – Achaeans

As we conclude our journey through the annals of Achaean history, we are reminded of the enduring legacy of Mycenae. From the heights of its fortresses to the depths of its trade, Mycenae stands as a testament to the ingenuity and resilience of the ancient Achaeans. Though the echoes of their deeds may fade with time, their stories continue to inspire and captivate generations. And so, we bid farewell to this chapter of the past, knowing that the spirit of the Achaeans lives on in the echoes of history.

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