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Sam Barris

Location: San Diego, California
Joined: 29 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Wed 13 Dec, 2006 7:47 am    Post subject: Nisos Kriti         Reply with quote

So after almost five years, three warships, multiple deployments and countless days at sea, I have finally rotated to shore duty, that magical time wherein one can rediscover the joys of living in a house, pursuing hobbies and having a circadian rhythm. And Ióbeing either an extremely lucky bastard or else favored above other mortals by the Olympian gods themselvesóhave managed to get orders to a small command located on the lovely Hellenic island of Crete. Yes, here among olive trees, clear Mediterranean water and lovely dark-eyed women I shall make my home for the next two years. I know, I know. Life is difficult sometimes, but we must endure these trials with brave stoicism and fortitude of spirit. Seriously, though, I must have drained the luck out of every four-leaf clover in the Western hemisphere to get sent to a place this beautiful, rather than somewhere like Djibouti. Or worse, Norfolk. Iíd have happily returned to Japan, but Iím even happier here.

I mention this on myArmoury for two reasons. The first is that this island exhibits a staggering level of archeological diversity. From Minoan and Classical Greek ruins to Byzantine monasteries and Venetian fortifications, Crete is an island that has borne witness to almost every stage in the development of Western civilization and has been used as an outpost by all manner of warriors from ancient pagan Hellenes to later Christian knights. Some stayed for only a season, others for centuries. The sheer scope of historical presence is astounding, particularly how the various styles of stonework all tend to blend together with no regard for culture or period and give the entire island a discernable sensation of timelessness which is only heightened by countless gnarled olive trees and the rugged beauty of the mountains. I am in the process of planning a number of photographic expeditions, beginning with the Venetian harbor fortifications in Chania and expanding in an ever-widening circle to include older ruins like Knossos, as soon as my duties will permit me to journey that far to the East. Sadly, the extremely well-preserved Venetian fortress which once controlled entry to Souda Bay is on a small island that has been placed off limits by the Hellenic Navy. Iím trying to find out who I can talk to about that. Cool castle photos to follow, as soon as I can manage it.

The second is that there is apparently a unique style of dagger indigenous to Crete. Its blade looks like the result of threesome between a kindjal, a yagatan and a Bowie knife, and the hilt is one of the most distinctive Iíve ever seen, consisting of two horn scales that fork into a V after the tang ends. The overall visual effect is quite interesting. The scabbard is traditionally made from an ornately hammered sheet of silver wrapped around a wooden core and the entire weapon was carried in a sash, usually with a silver chain secured around the neck or shoulder. Iíve found little reliable information on this weapon, other than a small amount that is online for public consumption, but its cultural and ceremonial uses appear to have been quite extensive. The only physical examples Iíve seen so far were made for tourists, though. I expect that Iíll learn more about its construction, use and blade geometry when I can get over to the Archeological Museum in Heraclion. With a little luck (assuming I havenít used it all up already), Iíll find one in an antique store, hopefully old enough to have taken a few Turkish scalps in its youth. Cool knife photos to follow, again, as soon as I can manage it.

If anyone has been here before, or perhaps knows of some interesting things that might require exploration, any castle hunting guidance would be very appreciated, as would any reliable information on this dagger that any of you might have come across in your studies. I'll share what I find on both fronts, if anyone is interested.


Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." óThucydides
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Patrick Kelly

Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Wed 13 Dec, 2006 8:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sounds good Sam. My oldest son recently transfered to Norfolk after about 2 1/2 years at Souda Bay. He hated it, but then again, sadly, he has no interest in history of any kind. I kept telling him to get around and see the things of interest but he was only interested in the things typical 20-21 year old sailors are interested in.
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Lafayette C Curtis

Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Thu 14 Dec, 2006 3:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hm. I'd be glad if you could post some pictures of the knife. And, if you have the time, perhaps you could check up on the Cretan Bronze Age swords?
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