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(Flailing!)

Re-enactment groups, collectors, historians and serving soldiers helped photographer Thom Atkinson assemble the components for each shot. ‘It was hard to track down knowledgeable people with the correct equipment,’ he says. ‘The pictures are really the product of their knowledge and experience.’

  1. 1066 huscarl, Battle of Hastings
  2. 1244 mounted knight, Siege of Jerusalem
  3. 1415 fighting archer, Battle of Agincourt
  4. 1485 Yorkist man-at-arms, Battle of Boswort

(The photo shoot contains 13 kits total. Make sure to view them all here)

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Military ration packs, containing such delicacies as stuffed peppers, chicken-meat pâté, smoked sprats, Earl Grey tea, beans and bacon in tomato sauce, a golden oatie biscuit, Almond poppy seed pound cake, cranberries, spiced apple cider, pâté, cassoulet with duck confit, creole-style pork and a crème chocolate pudding.

From top to bottom;

Germany

France

US

Italy

Norway

UK

Spain

Australia 

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Etruscan military equipment.

Shown in the first photo are artefacts from Tomb of 1935, Santa Giuliana Necropolis, Perugia. Mid 4th-century BC. The helmet in the second and third photo are from the Monteluce Necropolis, Tomb of 5/3/1887, and date to 350-300 BC.

Artefacts courtesy of & currently located at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Perugia, Umbria. Photos taken by Dan Diffendale.

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The Conscience of Chelsea Manning
April 5, 2014

Four years have passed since WikiLeaks’ sensational release of the classified US military video titled Collateral Murder. On April 5 2010, the raw footage was published depicting airstrikes by a US Army helicopter gunship in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad. The soldiers attacked Iraqis, killing about a dozen men wandering down a street, including two Reuters staffers, Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh in the first of three reckless attacks involving civilians. The video opened with a quote from George Orwell: “Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind”. It gained global attention, with viewers reaching millions and shattered the euphemism of ‘collateral damage’, revealing the true state of modern warfare behind the warping shield of propaganda.

Much focus in the media at the time was given to analyzing whether some of the Iraqi people in the video were carrying rocket propelled grenades or AK-47s and arguments ensued about this scene and the rules of engagement. The unfolding of these scenes calls for re-cognition, for us to take a look at these wars from a fuller perspective than the narrow view offered by the establishment media lens.

Before anyone talks about the laws of armed conflict and whether the rules of engagement were broken or not, we need to ask why these armed crews were even there in the first place. We should be examining the legality of the Iraq War itself. Speaking in defense of the disclosure of classified US military documents on the Iraq War, Assange pointed out how, “Most wars that are started by democracies involve lying” and noted how “The start of the Iraq war involved very serious lies that were repeated and amplified by some parts of the press”. Iraq has never been shown to have threatened the United States and it is common knowledge that the premise of this war was based on blatant lies; Colin Powell’s fabrication at the UN Security Council about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction was a particular low point for the US in its base war propaganda. The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg designated the term ‘war of aggression’, as an attack on another nation or people without any justification of self-defense and is listed as a major international war crime.

In a report given at a New York Commission Hearing in May 11, 1991, attorney and President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights Michael Ratner seriously questioned the conduct of United States against Iraq:

“As people living in the United States we have an obligation not to close our eyes, cover our ears and remain silent. We must not and cannot be ‘good Germans.’ We must be, as Bertrand Russell said about the crimes committed by the U.S. in Vietnam, ‘Against the Crime of Silence.’ We must bear witness to the tens of thousands of deaths for whom our government and its leaders bear responsibility and ask the question – Has the United States committed war crimes with regard to its initiation and conduct of the war against Iraq?”

The questions raised by the graphic video-game turkey-shoot nature of this video needs to be placed within its larger context along with examining the justification or potential war crimes of each incident in the video.

The moving imagery in the video revealed a particular mindset displayed by these US military trained soldiers. It is the consciousness behind the gun-sight. The mind is generally blind to biases behind a perception that is trained to look at the world through the crosshairs of a gun-sight. From a broader historical perspective, one could say it is a colonial mind that controls an inception point, setting its own rules of engagement and defining the course of events and destiny of those caught in it.

“Lets shoot. Light ‘em all up. Come on, fire!…” In a series of air to ground attacks, a team of Army excitedly found a target. One man said, “Oh, yeah, look at those dead bastards” and the other man responded saying “Nice”. When they found one wounded individual trying to crawl away, another man said “All you gotta do is pick up a weapon” expressing his wish to shoot him. After finding that kids were in the minivan that they had engaged, who were simply on their way to school, one solider said “It’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle”. Seized in their eyes, everything that moves is fixated in this perspective. These civilians are no longer seen as victims and the permission to engage is manufactured through the aggressors attacking their targets who are just trying to defend themselves.

In the original 38 minute video recording the scenes in New Baghdad on July 12, 2007, the past century has lingered to haunt our post-modern global society. The dark shadow of colonization is carried over into the military-industrial age of the 20th century with its outward thrusting brutality. The cynical naming of the ‘Apache’ helicopter evokes a memory of the genocide of American natives long ago. Native American activist Winona LaDuke once spoke of how it is common military-speak when you leave a base in a foreign country to say that you are heading ‘out into Indian Country’. The brutal projection of US power into the oil-rich Middle East contains echos of these historical ‘Indian Wars’. The unfolding scenes appear as if the US is almost glorifying and continuing these crimes against humanity from the past.

Colonial mentality and injustice never atoned for, is now expanding into a global web of military forces that more and more serve hidden corporate goals and agendas. French poet and author, Aimé Césaire (1972/2000) in Discourse on Colonialism wrote how colonization brutalizes and decivilizes the colonizer himself:

“… colonization … dehumanizes even the most civilized man; that colonial activity, colonial enterprise, colonial conquest, which is based on contempt for the native and justified by that contempt, inevitably tends to change him who undertakes it; that the colonizer, who in order to ease his conscience gets into the habit of seeing the other man as an animal, accustoms himself to treating him like an animal, and tends objectively to transform himself into an animal”. (p. 41)

The real scenes of modern war on the ground stand like a mirror. Reflected in the graphic WikiLeaks video, we begin to see something about each one of us that has long escaped consciousness. In the raw image of this cruel scene, we can see a part of our culture’s collective shadow, as the barbarian degraded in the effort of ‘civilizing’ those ‘others’. Descending into torture, drone attacks on wedding parties and other acts of collateral murder, this barbarism is clothed in the rhetoric of civility and self-defense, yet reveals the unredeemed colonizer within.

What is it that is shattering the armament around the hearts of so many? The conscience of Chelsea Manning, the source behind the leak of Collateral Murder was the spark for this awakening. Her act of conscience shattered the abstraction and opened the gate that guarded this inception point where the public could now see uncensored images of modern war and decide for themselves how to see it. In the unfolding images, we were able to see what Chelsea Manning saw.

At the pretrial hearing in Manning’s prosecution for leaking the largest trove of secret documents in US history, she read aloud a personal statement to the court in Fort Meade, Maryland, describing how she came to download hundreds of thousands of classified documents and videos from military database and submit them to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. She spoke about facts regarding the 12 July 2007 aerial weapons team – that video depicting the incident in New Baghdad.

Manning began by saying how at first she didn’t think the video was very special, as she saw countless similar combat scenes. Yet, she came to be troubled by “the recording of audio comments by the aerial weapons team crew and the second engagement in the video of an unarmed bongo truck”. Then she spoke of the attitudes of the soldiers in the helicopter. “The most alarming aspect of the video to me, however, was the seemly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have”. She continued:

“They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote ‘dead bastards’ unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there is an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.”

Manning spoke about the specific moment where the father driving his kids to school in a van stopped and attempted to assist the wounded:

“While saddened by the aerial weapons team crew’s lack of concern about human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see that the bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew – as soon as the individuals are a threat, they repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck and once granted they engage the vehicle at least six times.”

She further pointed to the attitude of the aerial weapons team when they learned about the injured children in the van. She noted how their actions showed no remorse or sympathy for those they killed or injured and they even exhibited pleasure when a vehicle drove over one of the bodies.

Manning had come to see this everyday reality in Iraq from the perspective of those who have been conjured into the designation of ‘enemy’. In that moment, she began to see these unfolding human events more from the point of view of those she was trained to see as others and methodically demonized by a corporate war of terror.

In elucidating the etymology of the word conscience, Jungian psychoanalyst Edward Edinger (1984) related it to the concept of consciousness:

“Conscious derives from con or cum, meaning ‘with’ or ‘together,’ and scire, ‘to know’ or ‘to see’. It has the same derivation as conscience. Thus the root meaning of both consciousness and conscience is ‘knowing with’ or ‘seeing with’ an ‘other’. In contrast, the word science, which also derives from scire, means simply knowing, i.e., knowing without ‘withness.’ (p. 36) … The experience of knowing with can be understood to mean the ability to participate in a knowing process simultaneously as subject and object, as knower and known. This is only possible within a relationship to an object that can also be a subject”. (p. 53)

Conscience first engages the empathic imagination, breaking down walls of separation. One can begin to feel another person’s pain as if it is ones own. In that moment when Manning saw other human beings who she had been trained to see as an ‘enemy combatant’ in the gunsight, she freed them from perception enslaved by the subject position of US supremacy that had made them into a lifeless object. Here the other perspective that was denied was brought back to consciousness. She saw another human being whose life was as precious as hers; not an enemy, but a victim of an oppressive vision of the corporatized military industrial complex.

In the famous chat log with hacker Adrian Lamo that led to her arrest, Manning spoke of how she wants “people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public…”. The truth she referred was what she saw in the unfolded images in the video, articulated in her words in a chat “We’re human… and we’re killing ourselves…”.

At the providence inquiry, she elaborated her wish:

“I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare”.

Full article

Watch the Collateral Murder video here.

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Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great is maybe the best known ruler in the western world. He became king of Macedonia at the age of 20 and in just 13 years conquered most of the whole known world.

Early life

Alexander was the son of Olympia, a princess from the mountain region of Epirus, and king Phillipus II of Macedonia. Olympia was known for her passionate outbursts of religious pleasure during festivals. She was also known to practice magic and dance with snakes. Olympia was Phillipus’ fourth wife, one of many before he died, and she gave birth to Alexander of Macedonia in 356 BC in Pella. The yound prince received an excellent education and at the age of 13 was taught by philosopher Aristotle until he was 16 years old. During his years as Aristotles’ student he learned Greek poetry and it is said he was particularly fond of Homer’s Odyssee.

A king

When king Phillipus died, Alexander was only 20 old and not only did he have large shoes to fill, a new king had to prove his worth before getting the loyalty of his people. Greece was busy with organizing a revolt against Macedonia at this time, and the Greeks assumed this new ‘boy-king’ would be easily overthrown. However, when Alexander successfully invaded Boeotia Greece decided to wait until the right time presented itself. At the start of his reign Alexander had made his father’s mission his own, to wage war against the Persian oppression. But before he could do that he had to make sure he wouldn’t be attacked in the back, meaning Illyria and Thracia. During the battles against these tribes he showed his true genius on the battlefield, he defeated them without a problem and they were now loyal to him. Back in Greece the Thebans has erupted into revolt with the help of Darius (the Persian king), but here too Alexander proved too strong and the city of Thebes was burned to the ground. Now that the Greece and its surrounding lands were pacified, he could turn his attention to the Persian empire.

In 334 BC Alexander and his army (counting over 35.000 men already at that time) moved to Hellespont and entered Asia. At the battle of Granikos the Persian were defeated for the first time, the battle was quick and Alexander lost relatively few men but the defeat was shattering for the Persian empire, whose army was now mostly destroyed. This was the second time Alexander showed his true genius as a military commander, but also as a strategist and planner. It is said that Alexander rode out with his soldiers at the front of the line, and positioned himself on the weakest points of his lines.

Alexander’s propaganda for his war was to liberate Greek cities from the Persian and punish them for the devastations done 150 years earlier. However, Asia was also very suitable to colonize and therefore unburden the motherland. But mostly, Alexander was driven by an unequalled ambition to conquer the world, and he came very close to doing so.

Asia minor

In Asia minor Alexander spent the remaining of 334 BC and most of 333 BC consolidating his power in Greek cities around the coast of Asia minor where he replaced the Persian rulers with his own men. He slowly made his way down to Issus, a harbor town in the southeast of Asia minor, to meet Darius in battle. However, Darius fled when it became apparent that his cavalry was useless in this area and he would be defeated. Darius left behind his mother, wife and children in the hands of Alexander whom he left in his encampment. After this, Alexander moved south, through Syria and Phoenicia where every city was taken and those who opposed Alexander would be sold as slaves to pay for his army. So without any resistance Alexander made it to Egypt and was promptly crown king, after disposing of the Persian ruler without any trouble. In Egypt he founded the first of many Alexandria’s, but this city one is the only one that is still of any significance today. Alexandria lies at the Mediterranean Sea and was built as a true Greek city. He travelled further east to the sanctuary of Ammun in the Siva desert where the oracle proclaimed him to be the son of god (for the Egyptians that would be Ammun but the Greek identified him with Zeus), so from now on Alexander was divine.

Meanwhile Darius was gathering a new army in Babylon and was waiting for Alexander to come to him, however this gave Alexander the opportunity to march from Egypt to the heart of the Persian empire and plan a strategic attack on Darius. Darius was convinced that the immensity of his army (it is said to be more than a million soldiers) would crush Alexander once and for all. It was a place called Gaugemela in 331  BC in the north of Mesopotamia that the two armies collided, but again Darius had fled and left his army without its king. Instead of hunting Darius down, Alexander went south and entered the city of Babylon as a hero. This is also where the “easy” part of his conquest ended, up until Babylon cities and regions all celebrated Alexander as a savior, ending the reign of the Persian occupation. However, east of Mesopotamia the Iranian region started and they put up a good fight but they too could not resist Alexander and eventually all the major cities opened up to him, including all the riches of the Achaemenid Empire. In Medes, along the Caspian Sea, Alexander found the body of Darius, he had been killed by a satrap called Bessus from Bactria who wanted to start an Iranian kingdom for himself. Alexander proclaimed himself the heir to Darius’ throne and eventually killed Bessus for this cowardly and treasonous act.

Alexander had started appointing satraps who were not Macedonians and he was starting to act more and more like an Achaemenid, which caused some friction between him and his Macedonian generals. Alexander moved to the northern boundary of the Persian empire, Syr Daria but before he could enter into unknown territory he had to put an end to a dangerous rebellion in Bactria. This cost Alexander two years (329-327 BC.)before the rebellion was put to an end. This rebellion however, was very bloody and many people were executed.

In 327 BC Alexander made his way to Kabul and in the spring of 326 he moved his army towards the Indus. In India Alexander and his troops experienced the Indian territory in full, they were battered by heavy rains, snakes, deceases and fatigue. India was far larger than they had expected and Alexander was forced to retreat and reformulate a plan. He wanted to unite the entire civilized world under his command and India was to be part of that empire. On his way back to Iran, the army got lost in the desert and Alexander lost more men than in all his battled combined. In 325 BC he and the remaining part of his army reached Persus, where his fleet also landed a few month later. In spring 324 BC he travelled to Susa where he organized a mass wedding; his Macedonian men all had to marry Persian women. He himself married Roxanne, a beautiful woman from Bactria. This mass wedding was meant to reconcile the conquerors and the conquered, however this only resulted in a mutiny by his Macedonian veterans. Luckily this was also quickly solved by a large banquet in honor of his veterans.

In 323 BC Alexander started planning his biggest and greatest expedition yet, and he had already gathered a fleet to move from Mesopotamia, going around Arabia, to get to India. However, before anything could be set in motion, Alexander got sick and in less than 2 weeks he died from a very high fever. Alexander was only 33 years old and his son by Roxanne had yet to be born when he died.

After death

Without a legal heir his empire fell into the hands of his generals. This meant that his empire was torn apart into four large pieces and Alexander’s generals spent the first 40 years after his death waging war against each other to keep a world empire from emerging again. In the end 3 kingdom’s remained: in Egypt ruled by Ptolemy, in Asia minor Seleucus and in Macedonia Antigonus. Only in Egypt did the dynasty of the Ptolemies  last until the Roman empire. 

Sources : 

De Oudheid: grieken en romeinen in de context van de wereldgeschiedenis, F.G. Naerebout & H.W. Singor ( 1995) 

Sesam wereldgeschiedenis deel 1 (2005) 

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“Their men, young and old, I took as prisoners. Of some I cut off the feet and hands; of others I cut off the noses, ears, and lips; of the young men’s ears I made a heap; of the old men’s heads I built a minaret [tower]

Assyrian battle scenes from Nineveh.

In the first scene we can observe Assyrian soldiers conducting captives across the water, this relief dates to ca. 668–627 B.C. The remaining scenes date to ca. 704–681 B.C. The siege of a city by Assyrian troops is shown in the second relief, and the procession of captives in the third. The final scene shows Assyrian soldiers storming a citadel.

Courtesy of & currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, via their online collections32.143.532.143.1532.143.17 & 55.121.4a, b. The quote at the top of the post is from an inscription of the Assyrian king Asshurizirpal (ca. 883 B.C.), cited in 'The Five Great Monarchies of the Ancient World', John Murray.

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Scars of War:  Battlefield Landscapes from World War I, 100 years Ago 

Photographer Michael St Maur Sheil spent seven years on the project Fields of Battle - Lands of Peace 14-18, featuring powerful and atmospheric images that reveal the battlefields of the First World War as they look today, one century on. - from The Telegraph

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> Top: The landscape of the Newfoundland Memorial Park, in Beaumont Hamel, France — Trenches, shell craters, and wire pickets remain much in evidence.  Beaumont-Hamel was situated near the northern end of the 45-kilometer front being assaulted by joint French and British forces. On July 1, 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, during an assault that lasted approximately 30 minutes the Newfoundland Regiment was all but wiped out, decimated by German machine guns and suffering 814 casualties. The 74-acre memorial site was purchased in 1921 by the people of Newfoundland; it is the largest battalion memorial on the Western Front, and the largest area of the Somme battlefield that has been preserved. Along with preserved trench lines, there are a number of memorials and cemeteries contained within the site.

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> 2nd: The Lochnagar Crater, La Boisselle, Somme, France — The British Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers dug a tunnel 50 feet deep and extending for about 300 yards from the British lines to the German front line. There, under the German position, they laid a mine consisting of over 25 tons of Ammonal.  It was blown along with 16 others at 07:28 on the morning of July 1, 1916 as a two-minute precursor to the start of the Somme Offensive.  The resulting explosion blew almost half a million tons of chalk into the surrounding fields, sending debris over 4,000 feet into the air. It created a vast hole 300 feet across and 90 feet deep. Lochnagar remains the largest crater made in warfare to this day. The sound of the blast was considered the loudest man-made noise in history up to that point, with reports suggesting it was heard in London.

It has been privately owned by Richard Dunning since 1978, to save at least one of the original Somme craters from being filled in and built upon by local farmers. There are several memorials at the site, with an annual ceremony every July 1 at a wooden cross at the crater to commemorate the first day of the Somme Offensive.

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> 3rd:  Butte de Vauquois — The original site of the village of Vauquois atop this hill was destroyed by mining during the period between February 1915 and February 1918.  This region of France is a series of ridges, with those of Vauquois and Mort Homme guarding the valley leading down towards Verdun.  For five months the French fought to get a foothold on the ridge where the Germans were dug in.  From the middle of 1915 onward, the war at Vauquois would be fought almost entirely beneath the ground. Pioneers from both nations tunneled and dug as they provided the shelters and galleries of trench warfare, along with setting dozens of mines.

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> 4th:  Battlefield grave memorial in Champagne — This is probably the last soldiers battlefield burial site memorial on the Western Front left intact with the soldier’s equipment, including his rusty helmet atop a wooden cross.  There is a plaque that reads ‘Grave of Edouard Ivaldi, Cpl 7/RI killed 30 April 1917,’ which was placed there in 1919 by his father Jean.

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> 5th:  The reconstructed gateway of the Chateau de Soupir — The Chateau served as a casualty clearing station, but was badly damaged during the war and subsequently demolished in 1917. The village of Soupir was largely destroyed during the Second Battle of the Aisne. Today, five national cemeteries are located in Soupir: two for France, and one each for Germany, the UK, and Italy.

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> 6th:  Unexploded shells uncovered by plowing near Munich Trench Cemetery, Beaumont Hamel, await collection by the Bomb Squad.  More than one billion shells were fired in WWI, and as many as 30 percent did not explode. During building construction or after spring plowing on the former battlefields of France and Belgium, potentially lethal ammunition is still brought to the surface. Despite the dangers, there is illegal trade:  some “collectors” search for the shells, defuse them at home, and then sell them at collectors markets.  People are still being killed every year by unexploded ordnance.

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> 7th:  The compass belonged to Second Lieutenant Eric Black, aged 24, who was an undergraduate at Keble College, Oxford and commissioned into the Lincolnshire Regiment. On May 9, 1915 they attacked a position known as Rouges Bancs, in conjunction with the battle of Aubers Ridge. Black was making his way back from the front line in the evening when he disappeared in the area of this field. The compass was found in 1992.

Caerphilly Castle is one of the great medieval castles of western Europe. Several factors give it this title: its immense size (1.2h), making it the largest in Britain after Windsor, its large-scale use of water for defense and the fact that it is the first truly concentric castle in Britain. Of the time of its building in the late 13th century, it was a revolutionary masterpiece of military planning.

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