Would it be possible to find such weapons in Greece ?

#1
As it often happen when a book, movie or videogame is released, there is debates over how realistic things describe are.

As such, I ended up reading some discussions about how realistic weapons in AC-odyssey were. (the game take place around 431-400 BC)

It was stated that some weapons were a few hundred years older than the era the Game take place in. Which makes it possible for them to exist then, since it could have been possible for such weapons to have been handed down without too much damage thanks to them being in Bronze.

Some are much more recent and as such, it would be impossible to get them.

Which lead to the final point : Weapons which existed at around the same era but at completely different geographical area. Namely : Chinese weapons (swords).

So my questions were :
-Would it be possible to find such weapons in Greece ?
- If yes, how hard would it be to get them ?
- How long would the trip take ?

While being interested, I'm really not good at all in this domain and not really documented about the trades, economics and commercial activities.

----------------------------------------------------------------

So I'll just use the arguments I did read (I'll use the arguments of 2 of the people arguing) :

The first argument of the discussion was the Trip of 'Alexander the Great' all the way to India with a whole army happened around only a hundred years later. Leading to the argument that Traders and peddlers with much less people would find it significantly easier to make the same trip and go even further.
The 2nd argument, related to the first, being that a part of the trip made by the weapons themselves, might have been trough successive trades and/or picked up trough conflicts, pillaging and so-on. Successive trades most likely passing trough Persia at that time.
[first person]

-

The first Argument being the awful relations between Persians and Greeks with years prior greeks being invaded by the Persians and Athens being burnt to the ground as retaliation of its support of the revolt of former greek colonies in Anatolia, which Persians thought was instigated by greeks.
Argument supporting that greek merchants wouldn't be received or even allowed to go through the persian empire without being captured and enslaved for being a "greek" spy.

The 2nde argument being that China at the time was in a state of civil war and divided in several countries, warlords and bandits being rampant. almost preventing commerce.
And finally China not having its current borders and being separated from occident by two deserts, the Talkaman and Gobi to reach China.
[second person]

-

The next arguments against that were :

- the mediteranean area having not known any lasting peace in almost the whole antiquity period. And that it didn't prevent trade much apart from periods when the wars were at their summit. Some people and civilisations even living mostly of trade (such as the Phoenicians for example).

- For it not to be worth it for any city leader or any official authority to attack merchants and peddlers just because they might be spies. since that even if they might be, it is a much better option to be careful around them as to not reveal too much informations.

- That to any civilisation, city or state. A lack of Trade, commercial and economic activity would be much worse than any spy could ever be, no matter how much alented he might be. Merchants are also the primary source of informations at that time in history, they can give clues about the political and general situations of others. Which are the kind of information valuable to get about others, but not much of a loss even if those informations about you get out to others.

- The fact that such expeditions to Asia could only have been realised by great merchant companies, the kind which belong to rich merchants with a lot of money and influence. Consequently, the convoys being highly protected with a large number of people and mercenaries in charge to protect it. Which means there would be little to no interest for anyone important to attack them, and their convoy would be way too large for regular bandits to attack it.

- The final Argument I did read before leaving being about that the first evidences of trade between Mediteranean countries and china are way older than the pelloponesian wars, the 'silk road' already existed for some times, so it is not impossible for goods to transit all the way over there.

[first person]

----------------------------------------------------------------

I might have skipped some parts I didn't find worth it or interesting, but I think most of the discussion should be here.

So I would like to ask first if there are any big mistakes completely changing the context. And what you would think of arguments of both sides, and what would be most likely in the end.

[I personnally think that the first person is being a bit too naive, especially on the importance of traders and peddlers. But I would tend to agree that it might not be completely impossible for such goods to eventually end up in Greece, the same way that some 1000 BC chinese silk was found in Egypt...]
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,974
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#3
What's difficult to understand in this thread is which weapons are you talking about ... Chinese swords in Greece? Ai don't know AC-Odyssey so I cannot know which weapons are present in that game.
 
Aug 2014
3,814
Australia
#4
We already know which weapons were found in the Aegean. They have been collected, surveyed, analysed, categorised, typologised, and published many times. IMO they have been subjected to more scrutiny than any other culture on the planet. Salimbeti has done a good job bringing it all together.
The Greek Age of Bronze
 
#5
One of the weapons in the game looks more or less like the 'Sword of Goujian' or another sword of the same period.

Bronze weapons were obsolete at the beginning of the Iron Age in 1100 BC in Greece.
Bronze weapons didn't become obsolete at the very beginning of the Iron Age. It took a long time for Iron weapons to take over the whole production. And for a long time, High-quality Bronze weapons remained of higher quality than low-medium iron/steel weapons.

So, would the bronze weapon have been of very high quality and crafted late, and if maintained well enough, it could have been kept a long time until that period.

----

This is purely theorics. As to whether it would have been possible or not.
 
#7
For the sword of Goujian which one of the weapons looks like :

2560px-Sword_of_Goujian,_Hubei_Provincial_Museum,_2015-04-06_01-edit.jpg

(There is also, several Khopesh and older weapons. Even if they're not really the main point here.)

edit : found less ornamental version of swords of the same period :
fa61de0f683644fe468e74e67a1e2fa8.jpg
 
Last edited:
Jan 2015
2,813
MD, USA
#8
Hoo, where to start? No, you would not find bronze swords or spears in use in the 5th century BC. Those that survived (not melted down for recycling) were in temples or graves, dedicated to the gods. Bronze was still the metal of choice for armor and helmets, and was used for buttspikes on spears and many other items, but not blades. Possibly arrowheads, though many of those were iron as well. Generally speaking, anywhere on the planet you will find the weapons, armor, and other items that are fashionable for that area at that time. Fashions changed slowly, and certainly Dad's stuff still worked, but for your typical warrior class (i.e., the rich guys), it was social suicide to be seen in Grandfather's gear. FASHION mattered.

There was ALWAYS trade. Always. Athens probably didn't export much to Sparta while they were actively at war, but they certainly traded with everyone else. Most naval activities don't seem to have focused on merchant interdiction, unless there was a solid blockade. But you don't bother shipping things like weapons long distances, because everyone had their own weapon industries already. Sure, if one area was known for good swords, anyone within a reasonable distance would import those. A Lydian helmet-maker might even make very Greek helmets if he was recognized as a superior craftsman in some way, though he'd have more than enough market in Ionia without needing to sell to Athens or other cities in Greece. The only commodities shipped to the Mediterranean from India or farther afield were things otherwise unavailable there, such as silk, tin, spices, etc. And most of those commodities were carried along the route by different traders, each traveling one leg of the journey. There was simply no point or profit in one merchant travelling months or years to sell a few mule-loads of silk.

Keep in mind that Greece as we know it is only the western side of the Aegean, and that there were LARGE numbers of Greeks and a number of substantial city-states in Ionia, the coastal area of Asia Minor to the east of the Aegean. That area was in constant contact with the Persian Empire even before it was conquered by Persia. So there was plenty of trade, knowledge, and fighting back and forth for centuries. The Persian Wars were started by the *Greek* cities who helped Ionian cities revolt against Persia.

So Persian arms and armor were at least known to the Greeks. But they wouldn't bother importing them in any numbers, because they weren't fashionable or "proper", and had no inherent advantage over what the Greeks were using. A spear is a spear! And "Oh, yeah, you're that weirdo who carries a PERSIAN sword" won't get you invited to any good dinner orgies.

As for anything more distant showing up in Greece, I'm sure there were odd things and rarities floating around, but never many. Some arrived as trophies, donated at temples by mercenaries returning home. Again, what would be the point? Any spear that was significantly different to what a hoplite normally used would handle too differently for him to use in a phalanx. Arrows were made to work with specific types and weights of bows, and if you didn't have that bow, you didn't need the arrows. Nor would you want to keep and use a bow if the nearest arrow-maker for it was a thousand miles away. You'd use a Cretan bow, for instance, and buy new arrows at the marketplace. Other bizarre things would be practically non-existent. And you don't bother travelling weeks or months or years to the far side of the planet to buy a weapon, you stroll down to the agora and buy something off a table.

In short, No Chinese weapons, no Kenyan bolos, no Aztec shark-tooth swords.

I'm sure there was always some spying going on, but it wasn't James Bond stuff. Anyone in a city's agora would see the troops mustering there. Sparta didn't care if the Athenians had spears--EVERYONE had spears! They'd only care how many enemy troops were coming, and any scout sitting on a rock watching the road could tell them that without breaking a sweat. Merchants were always good sources of info, but they didn't necessarily work for any particular city, they were just blabbermouths and willing to accept a bribe. No one had to climb ropes over walls in the middle of the night for spy work, and dressing like a ninja only means you show up against that white limestone like a raisin on a creampuff.

The basic answer to "How accurate is this game" is generally that it is FANTASY. It's not accurate at all. Sure, you might see more-or-less realistic scenery or props, but the whole concept is utterly unreal, and the very urge to bring in something foreign and exotic is completely the opposite of reality. If you like the game, play it and have fun! But don't bother over-thinking any of it, or mistaking it for history.

Matthew
 
Likes: InfernoZ
Jan 2015
2,813
MD, USA
#9
One of the weapons in the game looks more or less like the 'Sword of Goujian' or another sword of the same period.



Bronze weapons didn't become obsolete at the very beginning of the Iron Age. It took a long time for Iron weapons to take over the whole production. And for a long time, High-quality Bronze weapons remained of higher quality than low-medium iron/steel weapons.

So, would the bronze weapon have been of very high quality and crafted late, and if maintained well enough, it could have been kept a long time until that period.

----

This is purely theorics. As to whether it would have been possible or not.
Sorry, but no. Even dating the beginning of the Iron Age to around 800, there simply are no finds of bronze swords or spears after the 8th century. None. The ceased to exist in under a century. Graves and other datable contexts have only iron weapons, in spite of bronze being less susceptible to corrosion. There is literally no good evidence to suggest otherwise.

It wasn't a matter of quality or hardness or cost or availability. Even tradition is all well and good, but FASHION rules, and fashion had turned to iron weapons. So that's what was used, period.

Matthew
 
#10
Hoo, where to start? No, you would not find bronze swords or spears in use in the 5th century BC. Those that survived (not melted down for recycling) were in temples or graves, dedicated to the gods. Bronze was still the metal of choice for armor and helmets, and was used for buttspikes on spears and many other items, but not blades. Possibly arrowheads, though many of those were iron as well. Generally speaking, anywhere on the planet you will find the weapons, armor, and other items that are fashionable for that area at that time. Fashions changed slowly, and certainly Dad's stuff still worked, but for your typical warrior class (i.e., the rich guys), it was social suicide to be seen in Grandfather's gear. FASHION mattered.

There was ALWAYS trade. Always. Athens probably didn't export much to Sparta while they were actively at war, but they certainly traded with everyone else. Most naval activities don't seem to have focused on merchant interdiction, unless there was a solid blockade. But you don't bother shipping things like weapons long distances, because everyone had their own weapon industries already. Sure, if one area was known for good swords, anyone within a reasonable distance would import those. A Lydian helmet-maker might even make very Greek helmets if he was recognized as a superior craftsman in some way, though he'd have more than enough market in Ionia without needing to sell to Athens or other cities in Greece. The only commodities shipped to the Mediterranean from India or farther afield were things otherwise unavailable there, such as silk, tin, spices, etc. And most of those commodities were carried along the route by different traders, each traveling one leg of the journey. There was simply no point or profit in one merchant travelling months or years to sell a few mule-loads of silk.

Keep in mind that Greece as we know it is only the western side of the Aegean, and that there were LARGE numbers of Greeks and a number of substantial city-states in Ionia, the coastal area of Asia Minor to the east of the Aegean. That area was in constant contact with the Persian Empire even before it was conquered by Persia. So there was plenty of trade, knowledge, and fighting back and forth for centuries. The Persian Wars were started by the *Greek* cities who helped Ionian cities revolt against Persia.

So Persian arms and armor were at least known to the Greeks. But they wouldn't bother importing them in any numbers, because they weren't fashionable or "proper", and had no inherent advantage over what the Greeks were using. A spear is a spear! And "Oh, yeah, you're that weirdo who carries a PERSIAN sword" won't get you invited to any good dinner orgies.

As for anything more distant showing up in Greece, I'm sure there were odd things and rarities floating around, but never many. Some arrived as trophies, donated at temples by mercenaries returning home. Again, what would be the point? Any spear that was significantly different to what a hoplite normally used would handle too differently for him to use in a phalanx. Arrows were made to work with specific types and weights of bows, and if you didn't have that bow, you didn't need the arrows. Nor would you want to keep and use a bow if the nearest arrow-maker for it was a thousand miles away. You'd use a Cretan bow, for instance, and buy new arrows at the marketplace. Other bizarre things would be practically non-existent. And you don't bother travelling weeks or months or years to the far side of the planet to buy a weapon, you stroll down to the agora and buy something off a table.

In short, No Chinese weapons, no Kenyan bolos, no Aztec shark-tooth swords.

I'm sure there was always some spying going on, but it wasn't James Bond stuff. Anyone in a city's agora would see the troops mustering there. Sparta didn't care if the Athenians had spears--EVERYONE had spears! They'd only care how many enemy troops were coming, and any scout sitting on a rock watching the road could tell them that without breaking a sweat. Merchants were always good sources of info, but they didn't necessarily work for any particular city, they were just blabbermouths and willing to accept a bribe. No one had to climb ropes over walls in the middle of the night for spy work, and dressing like a ninja only means you show up against that white limestone like a raisin on a creampuff.

The basic answer to "How accurate is this game" is generally that it is FANTASY. It's not accurate at all. Sure, you might see more-or-less realistic scenery or props, but the whole concept is utterly unreal, and the very urge to bring in something foreign and exotic is completely the opposite of reality. If you like the game, play it and have fun! But don't bother over-thinking any of it, or mistaking it for history.

Matthew
Thanks a lot Matthew. That's about all the answers I needed.

I was actually more interested on the trade and possibilities of such weapons ever finding their way there, than any of that AC stuff.

I only played AC-2 and none of the others because that's not really the kind of game I like. The only moment I'll have a bit of interest in these games is when there are debates about it.
As I think that debates are often one of the best way to get informations and opinions. Which can be checked and corrected later if the need arrise.

Here, I was interested in the trading part mostly.

"As for anything more distant showing up in Greece, I'm sure there were odd things and rarities floating around, but never many."

My own opinion on the thing was actually kind of : " the only way for such weapons to have found their way would have been for some kind of rich person with weapon collecting antics to be interested in foreign weapons."

So when I read that topic about AC on some site, one of the first thing I tought was : "Is this story about and assassin or about a crazy weapon-collecting maniac ?" Which triggered my curiosity even more with that discussion, about if it really was possible or not.
 

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