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RW Bronze Age archaeology


Squaredeal Sten

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From time to time people have posted archaeological information in these forums  as insights into what 'bronze age' really means - 

This YouTube lecture is an interesting window into the Real World (RW) bronze age, and to what was involved in obtaining precious materials.  Amythest was a precious stone, not sem-precious, four or five thousand years ago. 

There are many cool things to observe here:

1) Prospecting for precious things in the desert was a thing.  Not just in California in 1849, but in the Bronze Age.   Why not put some of this in RQ adventures?

2) But BIG royal mining expeditions were also a thing.  1500 people!  Many of them working the logistics and security, not the actual miners.   Think of the logistics.  Think of the adventure hooks!

3) Interesting settlement maps here.

4) Locally made stone mining tools. 

5) How the mining work was actually done... Heat treating the stones.  Which involved cutting the sparse local trees - which must have contributed to desertification. 

Thought: We ought to think more often of Issaries traders trading on behalf of monarchs - (as well as on behalf of clans, which is already part of the RQG background).  It seems to me from the little i have read that the modern model of private traders is not a good picture of RW Bronze Age long-distance trade, especially early bronze age.  Your Glorantha and mine do vary from that.  But let's think again about issaries who are not working with their own capital.

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
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On 8/25/2022 at 7:38 PM, Squaredeal Sten said:

1) Prospecting for precious things in the desert was a thing.  Not just in California in 1849, but in the Bronze Age.   Why not put some of this in RQ adventures?

Finding something glinting in the sun is a time-honoured way of finding exotic magic items in RQ.

 

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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1 hour ago, soltakss said:

Finding something glinting in the sun is a time-honoured way of finding exotic magic items in RQ.

 

There's no detail about how those Egyptians prospected, but I suspect someone broke rocks open until he saw quartz crystals.  And as the video says, amethyst is just colored quartz- so once you start making crystal necklaces sooner or later you will hit amethyst.

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This article (my hardcopy magazine came today) reports finding an alpine rock crystal mine used for a period that at least ended in the bronze age.   Though the tools found don't include any such high tech.   We should think about Hsunchen also mining rock crystals.

https://www.archaeology.org/issues/482-2209/digs/10770-digs-switzerland-mesolithic-tools

 

 

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On 8/26/2022 at 1:36 PM, Squaredeal Sten said:

There's no detail about how those Egyptians prospected, but I suspect someone broke rocks open until he saw quartz crystals.  And as the video says, amethyst is just colored quartz- so once you start making crystal necklaces sooner or later you will hit amethyst.

In Osprey Warrior 121: Soldier of Pharaoh [Middle Kingdom Egypt 2055-1650 BC] there is discussion about a massive expedition to find and exploit copper deposits in the open desert. You might find this early attempt at industrialization of interest.

A good magazine of general Egyptology interest is KMT Journal, which is focused on Pharaonic Egyptian archeology and society. I think of it as the 'Military History Quarterly of Egyptology'... a 'middle level' research magazine for those who are read in on ancient Egypt and have a firm basic knowledge but can now understand the opinions and suppositions of the experts. Link below.

https://kmtjournal.com/

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And finally about storage jars:  the only jar type that W&E quotes is the amphora.  A tall jar with a narrower neck, pointed bottom,  and handles.  The examples of this in our local art museum are all artistic creations for display, too pretty to get bumped around, not the larger shipping amphora  which are retrieved from Bronze Age shipwrecks.   Whose handles probably allowed use of a block and tackle to lift them into the ship's hull.

But we tend to just call these "pottery" or 'jars".  When people relied more on pottery for all kinds of uses, the various kinds of jars had names.  For example this style of storage jar without handles is called a "Pithos".  The one in the picture is Mycenaean, firmly in the bronze age.  It was decorated, you can see traces -  but it was never close to being as good artistically  as the Athenian redware. So here is a look at an actual Bronze Age storage jar, about three feet tall:

 

pithos_up20220901_115243.thumb.jpg.e33684e5d93b19971a441bdbfd5b9b85.jpg

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
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To add to the discussion...

My wife and I toured the Terracotta Warriors of Emperor Ch'in when it came 'round locally.

Obviously, copper and bronze artifacts were featured prominently. Here's a couple of the pics that came out...

Crossbow trigger mechanism

Pottery with dye remnants

 

 

Chin Crossbow Trigger.jpg

Pottery with Dye Remnants Terracotta Warriors.jpg

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On 9/7/2022 at 7:57 PM, Squaredeal Sten said:

That last is a detail I had never seen before in reports of the terracotta army.  I had thought the armor was molded into the clay figure.  Thanks fir the report!

Are you aware that each face on the warriors is unique? Not just mild imperfections in a basic clone, but deliberately different faces and bodies.

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13 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

Are you aware that each face on the warriors is unique? Not just mild imperfections in a basic clone, but deliberately different faces and bodies.

I based the Copper Army on the Terracotta army. You can find them buried under the ground, waiting to be discovered and claimed.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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14 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

Are you aware that each face on the warriors is unique? Not just mild imperfections in a basic clone, but deliberately different faces and bodies.

Yes.  Someone publshed the speculation that they were modeled on living individuals.  It makes sense if the Emperor wanted to take his army with him.

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On 8/25/2022 at 12:38 PM, Squaredeal Sten said:

1) Prospecting for precious things in the desert was a thing.  Not just in California in 1849, but in the Bronze Age.   Why not put some of this in RQ adventures?

 

You might be able to find a desert or savannah (if that would suffice) somewhere on the cube... so indeed, why not put this into an adventure. If the insects (swarm rules, where are those RQ3 swarm rules) or the snakes or the arachnoids, that  our narrator mentions, do not get you... well the broo, the spirits, the nomads, the fellow miners... or any of the myriad of other easy to think of troubles that spell self-writing encounters... might.

On 8/25/2022 at 12:38 PM, Squaredeal Sten said:

2) But BIG royal mining expeditions were also a thing.  1500 people!  Many of them working the logistics and security, not the actual miners.   Think of the logistics.  Think of the adventure hooks!

 

Oy, think of tha headaches! 

 

On 8/25/2022 at 12:38 PM, Squaredeal Sten said:

5) How the mining work was actually done... Heat treating the stones.  Which involved cutting the sparse local trees - which must have contributed to desertification. 

 

Sumer, the Akkadians and many who followed on the fertile cresent all contributed to their own desertification from what I can see... Over in Africa, near the fertile Nile you have thoughts on man-made desertification. If our assumptions are correct one must wonder just how amazing it is, just how little we learn as the ages pass!

 

On 8/25/2022 at 12:38 PM, Squaredeal Sten said:

Thought: We ought to think more often of Issaries traders trading on behalf of monarchs - (as well as on behalf of clans, which is already part of the RQG background).  It seems to me from the little i have read that the modern model of private traders is not a good picture of RW Bronze Age long-distance trade, especially early bronze age. 

I think of the two pre RQG famed traders dealing on behalf of royalty:  Gringle and Joh Mith! Though different in very many aspects, they both deal with nobility at a larger scale than most... as to the being bankrolled... Well, there are a couple of interesting tales behind that for one... 

More to watch, but later... 

 

... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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7 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

Yes.  Someone publshed the speculation that they were modeled on living individuals.  It makes sense if the Emperor wanted to take his army with him.

Yep... although, I'm not sure if that's "speculation", or actually evidenced (stated) in writings... I forget. (I went to Xi'an a couple of years ago for a conference, and we were given a tour of the area (thousands of people swarming the place)... not sure where my photos are... probably on the external HDD that's not working now 😞 )

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  • 4 months later...

American Institute of Archaeology had a lecture last week (now on YouTube) about divinization of rulership in the anicient world.  Dr. Cooney says, among other things, the Egyptians were very good at mythologizing their rulers... a lot here about the nature of political power.

Worth thinking about as we characterize Gloranthan rulers.  If the Egyptian rulers " had publicists", so the Gloranthan ones will - they pay bards. 

 

 

 

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