AO Magazine - February 2019
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They say war never changes. War is a recurring and omnipresent human phenomenon that has existed throughout history. In the ancient world, warfare was more than fighting itself. It was an integral part of daily life that encompassed political, economic, and cultural spheres. And then, there was the religious realm, where kings ruled by divine mandate and fortunes in battle were determined by heavenly forces and powerful war gods (ten of whom you’ll meet in this issue).
Ancient Warfare is often glorified in the mythologies and legends of these war gods and goddesses, as well as in tales of nobility, sacrifice, bravery, and conquests by powerful generals and warriors. But we contrast this view with a look at the brutality and horrors that are ubiquitous to war, told here through the story of Becerrillo, an attack dog of the Spanish conquistadors that left trails of blood and bodies in his wake.
Warfare has left its imprint in the pierced armor and shattered remains of millions of warriors and civilians around the world, each carrying their own story. Our featured contributor, James McBride, a forensic anthropologist, recreates some of their stories through art, and shares how both ancient and modern soldiers have used therapeutic art practices to cope with the trauma of war.
Winston Churchill once famously said: “History is written by the victors”, and this applies most particularly to war. Featured author David G. Jones, a university lecturer and veteran of the Canadian Army, challenges the accepted view of Sun Tzu’s famous manual ‘The Art of War’, and claims that rather than being a ruthless tyrant, the First Emperor of China may have been one of the greatest peace-makers in history.
And was there ever really a Trojan War? Researcher Petros Koutoupis brings into question the traditional account of the Trojan War and the supposed discovery of Troy.
Today, wars may be fought from 30,000 feet up with precision GPS-guided bombs, combat drones, and stealth aircraft, but the art of forging ancient weapons has not yet died. Traditional Master Swordsmith Rob Miller tells us why he keeps this lost art alive in the modern day.
On a lighter note, we highlight a wonderful project by Cambridge University linguistics specialist, Dr Martin Worthington, who is reviving the ancient Babylonian language 2,000 years after falling out of use! We examine the odd phenomenon of mass hysteria which shows us that while social and political contexts—and even war—have changed over the centuries, human psychology has, for better or worse, largely remained the same.