History and Stuff

More on Alexander the Great, archery, and ancient metallurgy

Alexander is well represented on the Web. Here are some sites you might want to visit.

Mural from Pomeii
Alexander and Bucephalas. This is a section of a mosaic
from the House of the Faun, Pompeii, ca. 80 B.C.
National Archaeologic Museum, Naples, Italy.
Click here for a larger image.

  • Alexander the Great

    This can only be called a fan site. It's a labor of love created by one guy and a group of volunteers he has been gathering since 1994. There's lots of information here for anyone, at any level of interest. Highly recommended.

    One article on the site that I found especially interesting:

  • Pothos

    This is a look at Alexander's personality using the concept of "pothos" as the defining element of his character. Pothos is a Greek word for an emotion or state-of-mind that combines desire, longing for, want, and regret.

  • Alexander The Great

    A great summary of his life and legacy. It includes a very detailed timeline.

    There's even a special page devoted to Alexander's beloved horse Bucephalas.

  • Alexander the Great of Macedon

    A summary of Alexander's life in an easy-to-read and graphically-pleasing manner. If it's graphics you want, don't miss the tremendous collection of portraits they've put together.

  • Alexander by Plutarch

    The full text of Plutarch's famous biography, as translated by John Dryden. If you'd prefer it, there's also a more readable version of Plutarch's text, chopped down and loosely translated into colloquial English.

  • In Search of Alexander's Tomb

    "The life and times of Alexander the Great make for fascinating reading, even in modern times. Not only have they excited the imagination of many, but they have also triggered expeditions in search of his tomb ...."

    This Web site is an account of "the adventures of the king's remains from Babylon to their final resting place in Alexandria."

  • Sagacious nuggets of Yoda-isms


    Three selected scripts from "Star Wars" movies that feature the wise Jedi Knight Yoda. What the heck are these doing here? Only one reason, of course:

    Yoda: "Help you I can. Yes, mmmm."

    Luke: "I don't think so. I'm looking for a great warrior."

    Yoda: "Ahhh! A great warrior. (laughs and shakes his head) Wars not make one great!"

  • A Shot in Time: A Brief History of Archery

    The story of bows, arrows, and arrowheads -- a story that starts about 30,000 years ago.

  • History of Mediterranean Archery

    This is a scholar's site devoted entirely to the historical development of archery in the Mediterranean world. (Much of it is in Italian, but some is in English.)

    For an in-depth look at a related topic, check out this page:

  • Thracian Archers

    See this alternate site if you have trouble navigating the URL above. (Neither one is easy to navigate.)

    Thracians fought against Alexander, but also as mercenaries and auxiliaries in his army. They used small bronze socketed arrowheads with three barbs, like the ones we've got.

    By the way, the Thracians were considered so ferocious that Alexander and other Macedonian generals supposedly used them for executions and massacres. One writer describes Thracians singing as they returned from battle with severed heads as trophies.

  • 60 Centuries of Copper

    A complete online book glorifying the product of The Copper Development Association, UK. They explain: "The story of copper and its principal alloys, bronze and brass, is virtually a chronicle of human endeavor since man emerged from the Stone Age."

    The history of metallurgy is indeed intertwined with the history of mankind, although copper isn't the whole story.

    The first metals by humans were the ones that could be used in their natural or near-natural states, i.e. gold, silver, and copper. The discovery of bronze, made by alloying copper with tin, ushered in the Bronze Age, around 3,500 B.C. Around 1,500 B.C., people discovered how to create iron by smelting iron ore. Since iron is so much stronger than bronze, it rapidly replaced it, and so began the Iron Age.

    So, why were people making arrowheads out of bronze 1,000 years after the start of the Iron Age? As the Encyclopedia Britannica explains:

    Arrow design was probably the first area of military technology in which production considerations assumed overriding importance. As a semi-expendable munition that was used in quantity, arrows could not be evaluated solely by their technological effectiveness; production costs had to be considered as well. As a consequence, the materials used for arrowheads tended to be a step behind those used for other offensive technologies. Arrowheads of flint and obsidian, knapped to remarkably uniform standards, survived well into the Bronze Age, and bronze arrowheads were used long after the adoption of iron for virtually every other military cutting or piercing implement.

    For the rest of the Encyclopedia Britannica's fascinating account of the history of military technology, click here.

Biographies, novels, and movies on Alexander

Alexander the Great has been one of the most talked about, written about, and dramatically portrayed people in human history.

Here's a selection of some of the most highly-recommended books and tapes.

Alexander by Plutarch
Click here to purchase from

If you like to go to the primary sources, the closest thing we have for Alexander are the Roman histories -- written four or five centuries after his death.

Here are the big three:

  1. The Campaigns of Alexander
    by Flavius Arrianus (Arrian)

    Written about 150 A.D. Arrian used the writings of Ptolemy I -- Alexander's general who later founded the famous dynasty of the Ptolemies in Egypt -- which makes Arrian's history one of the most reliable.

  2. The Age of Alexander: Nine Greek Lives
    by Plutarchus (Plutarch) Written around 100 A.D. Plutarch liberally mixes legend with fact. That makes it fun to read.

  3. The History of Alexander
    by Quintus Curtius Rufus

    Written around 50 A.D., but with even more legend, they say.

For the story of Alexander the Great, click here to go back to the first page. History and Stuff

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