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Old 6th August 2016, 06:57 PM   #61
Jim McDougall
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Default Reopening thread to return and enhance topic

This was a remarkable thread which offered tremendous insight into an aspect of arms and armour not often covered in collecting forums as obviously artillery is a field quite logistically improbable for most collectors.

Still, what is important is the historical perspective which very much aligns with our study of various sidearms and weaponry of the periods and locations involved. As we have seen in numerous threads on Indian arms as well as Sri Lankan and clearly the Omani, the most notable presence of the Portuguese in all of these much colonized and traded spheres was key in bringing artillery and fortifications to these areas, among others too numerous to include in the scope of this discussion.

In recent threads, it was noted that Portuguese influences in artillery and fortifications were certainly included in India, as well as Oman etc. and I thought perhaps reopening these wonderfully detailed posts and expanding the topic to all aspects of fortifications and artillery associated would be worthy of continuing.

Hopefully we will be able to move onward and leave the unfortunate remains of the woefully misplaced debate on Omani swords behind us. That debate was of course not for this thread, and as it was two years ago, I think we are much better equipped to focus on the topics originally intended here,

So gentlemen.....we have range......fire for effect! Lets get back to the guns and forts and bring India, Sri Lanka et al into the scope!!!
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Old 6th August 2016, 08:10 PM   #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams....One of the most peculiar Ethnographic arms I have seen in Oman is...The Palm Tree. Defenders of Forts used the boiling oil from date palms to pour down specially built-in slots above main doorways on top of raiders.

Shown below is Nakhl Fort surrounded by Date Palms.

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Ibrahiim al Balooshi.



Maybe next year!
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Old 6th August 2016, 10:41 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
Maybe next year!



Huh?
Marius, interesting extract, but was kind of hoping for more material on the subject matter on forts, guns and to expand into the Indian sphere.
Not sure what this message means.
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Old 7th August 2016, 11:01 AM   #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
This was a remarkable thread which offered tremendous insight into an aspect of arms and armour not often covered in collecting forums as obviously artillery is a field quite logistically improbable for most collectors.

Still, what is important is the historical perspective which very much aligns with our study of various sidearms and weaponry of the periods and locations involved. As we have seen in numerous threads on Indian arms as well as Sri Lankan and clearly the Omani, the most notable presence of the Portuguese in all of these much colonized and traded spheres was key in bringing artillery and fortifications to these areas, among others too numerous to include in the scope of this discussion.

In recent threads, it was noted that Portuguese influences in artillery and fortifications were certainly included in India, as well as Oman etc. and I thought perhaps reopening these wonderfully detailed posts and expanding the topic to all aspects of fortifications and artillery associated would be worthy of continuing.

Hopefully we will be able to move onward and leave the unfortunate remains of the woefully misplaced debate on Omani swords behind us. That debate was of course not for this thread, and as it was two years ago, I think we are much better equipped to focus on the topics originally intended here,

So gentlemen.....we have range......fire for effect! Lets get back to the guns and forts and bring India, Sri Lanka et al into the scope!!!



Hello Jim, Naturally my opinion on this entire subject is bound to be slightly biased however, as you can see by the distance traveled covering this subject and the hard work done by Forum what a shame it would be to leave this thread squandering in the dust..Al Hazm is a key marker I have hardly touched and there are other forts of note...Oman therefor was a strategic stepping stone on the way to India. Indeed it was the Omanis who showed the Portuguese the way to Hormuz which was a Fortress of great significance and wealth...The Jewel in the Crown to Portugal and a serious stepping stone to India. It goes without saying that when Muscat was recaptured by Oman in about 1650 that this signaled the downfall of Portuguese interests in India and its environs though they did rather hang on and in some cases they are still there today...and certainly their influence is still seen. Understanding the position on Forts of Oman is key to the Portuguese situation on the African Coast and in India. Linked to that is the development of gunpowder weapons in particular Cannon...thus this subject is vital to that...and an Ethnographic piece of the jigsaw puzzle regionally.

Already posted before are what turn out to be very rare pictures I took of the whitewash stripped Sohar Fort which was the first place cannon were discharged in anger in Oman... and I recall the famous story of Fort Jelali which operated as a prison where there was a lion in a cage inside the gates...to which first offenders were chained to the outside of a great cage. Second offenders were put inside the cage... Lunch to a huge Lion.
Unbeknown to many the fort had been constructed as a result of Muscat under the Portuguese being seized by Piri Reis the Turkish General later executed on return to Turkey...in a Machiavellian plot. Please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Al_Jalali for a reasonable basic picture of Jalali Fort and its history. Below you can see the large picture with Jelali in the foreground and behind it Fort Mirani; its sister Fort.
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Old 7th August 2016, 07:59 PM   #65
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Very well said Ibrahiim!!
As we sort of get this theme back on track, it is well to understand that this clearly vast network (even more so apparently as discoveries of evidence continue) of Portuguese navigation and exploration reveal this network which influenced continents' cultures and set the pace for future colonization

The Portuguese arrivals in India of 1498 were certainly key in the following colonizations and by the establishment of their rule in Goa, others and profound development was to continue.

It is fascinating to see the string of fortifications in these many outposts of Portuguese occupation, and to observe them as a tactical network which was to establish 'globalization' in these early times.
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Old 8th August 2016, 06:01 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Very well said Ibrahiim!!
As we sort of get this theme back on track, it is well to understand that this clearly vast network (even more so apparently as discoveries of evidence continue) of Portuguese navigation and exploration reveal this network which influenced continents' cultures and set the pace for future colonization

The Portuguese arrivals in India of 1498 were certainly key in the following colonizations and by the establishment of their rule in Goa, others and profound development was to continue.

It is fascinating to see the string of fortifications in these many outposts of Portuguese occupation, and to observe them as a tactical network which was to establish 'globalization' in these early times.



Hello Jim, In reviewing many of the publications about Omani history I find the one below so interesting that I can omit nothing from it...thus I place it as a cornerstone in the construction of this thread and hope readers may enjoy it...as it brings to life the very essence of ethnographic content giving readers a taste of life long ago...

I Quote"


Fortified Oman

Written and photographed by Lynn Teo Simarski

Much of Oman's tumultuous history is written in the stone, stucco, and mud-brick dialects of its defensive architecture. The craggy countryside bristles so naturally with fortifications that it is difficult to imagine the landscape without them, from the chains of watchtowers perched along strategic mountain passes, to the great bastions guarding the coast and the historic capitals of the interior. As the political turbulence of the past subsided into history, however, the fortresses coveted by conquerors seemed destined to crumble into oblivion - until the 1980's, when the government of Oman began an enterprising program to restore the country's fortifications using traditional techniques and materials.

The government selects monuments for restoration based on their size and complexity, and the importance of their role in history, explains Malallah bin Ali bin Habib, advisor to the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture. Oman is fortunate, he adds, that its ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, has an intense personal interest in history and preservation. Still, the sheer abundance of Oman's heritage of defensive monuments - more than 500 forts and castles, not to mention fortified houses and towers - makes conservation a daunting prospect.

The preserved forts will eventually constitute a collective record of how fortified architecture developed in Oman. Defensive elements such as towers, battlements, walled enclosures and gateways comprise "the most distinctive aspect of Omani architecture," according to archeologist Paolo Costa. Today, architectural features reminiscent of the old forts appear as artistic rather than utilitarian attributes in modern villas and commercial buildings. Even the smallest shops often feature crenelations decoratively painted across their facades.

Rulers over the ages built forts as the physical manifestation of their authority in Oman and the lands Oman once controlled in India, southwestern Iran and East Africa. Yet the forts are frequently assumed to be a foreign legacy, largely because of the prominence of the famous twin sentinels of Jalali and Mirani, built by the Portuguese to guard Muscat bay. "It is not true that many of the forts in Oman were built by the Portuguese," stresses bin Habib. "The vast majority of forts, castles, and watchtowers are the work of [Oman's] Ya'ariba and Al Bu Said dynasties."

Nonetheless, in the past, travelers sailing toward the coast first saw the Portuguese-built bulwarks of Muscat and nearby Mutrah. Muscat was an important naval base for the Portuguese during their century and a half of domination, and they built fortifications there early on. After Ottoman naval forces temporarily dislodged them from the town, they returned to fortify the natural defensive pinnacles of Muscat, completing Jalali and Mirani - the latter still houses a small Portuguese chapel - by 1588. But the Portuguese were confined to coastal Oman. Donald Hawley describes them in Oman and its Renaissance as "locked up in their great forts,.. .unsympathetic toward the local people."

After the Portuguese were expelled by the Ya'ariba dynasty, the Omanis enlarged and transformed Jalali and Mirani into "purely Omani fortresses," according to Enrico d' Errico, who supervised restoration of a number of Omani monuments. The coastal forts continued to draw the envious glances of those who wished to control the trade of the Gulf and Indian Ocean. "I have little doubt," observed Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, in 1903, "that the time will come... when the Union Jack will be seen flying from the castles of Muscat." His prediction did not come to pass, however, and the forts of Muscat and Muttrah have now been restored as patriotic symbols of Oman's independence.

Another element in the defenses of Muscat was Bayt al-Falaj fort in nearby Ruwi, built in the 19th century by the Al Bu Said dynasty to which Sultan Qaboos belongs. Surrounded by steep mountain slopes, the whitewashed fort commanded access to valleys leading to Muscat, and was the stage in 1915 for a heroic victory by a small force of defenders over thousands of rebellious tribesmen. Headquarters for the Sultan's armed forces until 1978, Bayt al-Falaj is now a museum with superb carved doors and painted ceilings.

To the south of Muscat in the town of Sur, Snisla fort, with its fanciful wedding-cake tower, has also been restored, and restoration on two more forts, Bilas and Ras al-Hadd, is in progress. North of Muscat, along the miles of date palms and fishing villages, a string of clean-lined, dun-colored forts guards the shore. Perhaps the most impressive of these massive sand castles is the restored fort of Barka, where an inscription features the name of Ahmad bin Said, the first imam of the Al Bu Said dynasty, and winner of what became Oman's final victory over the Persians. In the palm groves some distance behind the fort nestles Bayt Naman, an elegant example of a 17th-century fortified palace now under restoration.

Farther up the coast in Sohar, Oman's northernmost important town, rise the seven towers of its restored fort, dazzling white against the deep blue of the sky and sea. Sohar protected the coastal approaches to several mountain passes, including the route to Buraymi Oasis in the interior. Although bypassed by recent history, Sohar was the legendary home of Sinbad and was called "the greatest seaport of Islam" by the 10th-century geographer al-Istakhri. "It is the most populous and wealthy town in Oman," he wrote, "and it is not possible to find on the shore of the Persian Sea nor in all the lands of Islam a city richer in fine buildings and foreign wares."

In 1507, the Portuguese conqueror Affonso de Albuquerque found at Sohar "a fortress of square shape, with six towers round it, having also over the gate two very large towers," a complex that called for defense by more than 1000 soldiers. The Portuguese transformed Sohar into one of their principal Omani bases. This was but one of many rebuildings; French archeologists recently unearthed the remains of a fort from the 13th or early 14th century within the present fort's precincts. Today, high in the tallest tower, the sea breeze blows gently through the governor's majlis or council chamber - it is still employed as such - and the sunlight casts intricate patterns through the white pargeted windows.

Inland from the coastal belt of palms, across the acacia-dotted plain, looms the purple-gray mountain spine of northern Oman. The massive, round-towered forts standing sentinel on both sides of the mountain, where foreign cultural influence was weaker than on the coast, chronicle the evolution of Oman's indigenous fortifications. From the time of Albuquerque, the introduction of gunpowder and cannon transformed the type of defensive architecture. The plan of the older, smaller, many-towered forts gave way to a new design: a square enclosure fortified, at diagonally opposite corners, with two round towers appropriate to the use of cannon. Walls were thickened to resist cannon-fire, and towers heightened to extend the cannons' reach. When enemies drew near the tower, musketeers could fire at them through narrow, downward-slanted loopholes.

It was under the strong and prosperous rule of the Ya'ariba imamate, from approximately 1624 to 1748, that the distinguishing characteristics of Omani military architecture began to crystallize. The Ya'ariba rulers, effectively uniting Oman for the first time in many centuries, rebuilt the old irrigation systems, renovated the towns, revitalized agriculture, and spurred the pace of trade. The promontories of the Sumayl Gap, the most important route to the interior, were crowned with one watchtower after another by the second Ya'ariba ruler, Sultan bin Sayf. At the coastal end of the pass, Bidbid Fort, now restored, anchored this chain of defenses.

At Nizwa, still a regional capital today, Sultan bin Sayf built the great, round, golden tower - the largest in Oman and one of the largest in the Gulf - that still stands in the oasis, next to the ruler's palace, as a monument to the genesis of the new architectural style. The tower is said to have taken 12 years to build, and its gun-ports command a 360-degree field of fire. Restoration of the tower was to be completed last year, and the town's traditional suq is also slated for renovation.

About a quarter century after Nizwa fort was constructed, Bilarab bin Sultan, son of Nizwa's builder and the third imam of the Ya'ariba, erected the splendid palace of Jabrin in the middle of an expansive inland plain. In the interpretation of Paolo Costa, the square layout of Jabrin palace, with its two towers at opposite corners, surpasses Nizwa by unifying its defensive and residential features. Bilarab, who was known for his benevolence to poets and scholars, endowed Jabrin with a madrasa, or school. The palace, now completely restored, still guards the tomb of its builder, who died in 1692.

According to another scholar, Eugenio Galdieri, Jabrin shows the artistic influence of Safavid Persia in the design of its plaster grates and its general apportionment of space. The flowing patterns of its painted ceilings, such as the one in the Hall of the Sun and the Moon, echo carpet designs, and offer the finest examples of such painting in all of interior Oman.

Another charming stronghold on the inland side of the mountain, also more palace than fort, is Birkat al-Mawz or "Pool of the Plantains." It follows the basic layout of Jabrin. Poised across the yawning mouth of a great pass into the mountains, Birkat al-Mawz was one of the fortresses of the Bani Riyam tribe which controlled the mountain heartland. Collapsing into ruin until recently, the mud-brick fortress and its painted ceilings are now well on the way to restoration.

The fifth ruler of the Ya'ariba, Sultan bin Sayf II, established his capital at al-Hazm, on the coastward side of the mountain. His fort, built in 1725, once again echoes the plan of Jabrin. The central columns of the fort's round towers feature refined plaster pargeting above the bronze Portuguese cannon brought from Fort Mirani in the 19th century. Even today, the dark, brooding bulk of al-Hazm seems to evoke the melancholy of its ruler who, contemplating political and military reverses at the close of his life, reportedly said, "This is my castle and my grave. I am become an eyesore to everyone, and the quiet of death will be preferable to any happiness which dominion has afforded me." Al-Hazm's labyrinthine depths still guard the imam's grave and his silent prayer cell, as well as claustrophobic dungeons and - if tradition is to be believed - the ruler's hidden escape routes.

The many architectural features repeated in Oman's forts help today's restorers infer how various rooms and spaces were used in the past. Impressed with Morocco's expertise in restoration, Oman invited a technical team of about 60 Moroccans to work with the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture. "The Moroccans have done extensive restoration work in their own country," explains bin Habib. "Many of Oman's forts need specialized techniques, and Morocco has specialists in each field - calligraphy, carpentry, mechanical engineering - and they have the restoration know-how."

The Moroccan team's director, Sidi Mohammed el-Alaoui, brings an architect's vision and a historian's imagination to his work. He explains that, before a monument can be restored, its milieu must be understood. "We must imagine the governor living inside the fort, and what his life was like," el-Alaoui says. "This means learning Omani history, reading religious and scientific books and poetry -everything about the period during which the monument was built." The restorers also survey and sketch the remains of the old forts, seeking clues to how rooms were used. Blackened walls, for instance, probably indicate the fort's kitchen, while the women's rooms, generally situated in the most private area of the fort, tended to be decorated more richly than others, perhaps with wooden or plaster lattice screens across the windows. Important rooms such as a majlis often had an elaborately painted ceiling.

Many of the forts, then, served not only for defense but also provided for a comfortable daily life. El-Alaoui points out that although Oman's castles borrowed some features from Persian, Indian and Portuguese design, they are entirely adapted in utility and design to the demands of local political and social routine.

Omani forts are guarded by massive, ornately-carved wooden portals, with a small cut-out door that allows entrance to only one stooping visitor at a time. The houses of Oman also feature carved and decorated doors that contrast handsomely with the spare lines of the buildings. The ceilings of forts are typically beamed with trunks of palm or sandlewood supporting simple but elegant patterns of crisscrossed palm ribs and palm-frond mats.

If invaders forced entrance to the forts, defenders could douse them, through a slot over the gateway, with asal - a sticky, boiling brew made from dates. Larger forts have a special room for processing dates, which were primarily, of course, an important food. A fort also invariably has a simple mosque, a majlis, men's and women's living quarters, soldiers' rooms, prisons, and storage chambers, among other facilities. At Jabrin, astonishing as it sounds, restorers have identified a room at the head of a long flight of stairs as a stall for the ruler's horse, which he apparently disdained to dismount outside the castle.

Important forts such as al-Hazm or Jabrin also had their own falaj, or water-supply channel, running through the lower level. If this was blocked by attackers, several wells provided an alternative in time of siege. To mitigate the scorching climate, windows of forts such as Nizwa and Rustaq invariably face north to let in cooling breezes. Sitting rooms are thick-walled and served by natural air conditioning: Cool air blows in through large lower windows, and rising hot air escapes through small upper windows.

Many of the forts have histories reaching back to ancient times. The large restored fortress of the town of Rustaq, set in an expansive oasis on the coastal side of the mountains, stands on what may have been the site of a fort since two millennia before the advent of Islam. The present fort, Qalat al-Kasra, includes a tower that tradition holds was originally built by the Persians in the year 600. Rustaq has long been important because of its strategic situation at the openings of mountain passes, as well as its benign climate and hot springs, which are believed to have medicinal benefits. It was the site in 1624 of the election of the first imam of the Ya'ariba, Nasir bin Murshid bin Sultan, and served as the imamate's capital a number of times.

Not far from Rustaq lies Nakhle oasis, whose own hot springs bubble out at the foot of barren mountains that slice into the earth like a guillotine. Here, one of Oman's most dramatically-sited castles poises upon a precipice, contoured so closely to its natural foundation as to seem sculpted from the rock. From the ramparts of Nakhle, Barka fort on the coast can be spotted on a clear day, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) away.

Colonel S. B. Miles, a British political agent in Muscat, visited Nakhle in 1876. Approaching the town, he wrote, "it seemed as if we were about to penetrate the very bowels of the mountain. No sign of human habitation, no cultivation, no gardens were visible, nothing but dark and desolate rocks met the eye ... when from above, in front of us, several matchlocks were suddenly discharged in our direction, and I perceived a watch tower perched on a steep pinnacle... from which the sentries had fired to give notice of our approach. Rounding an angle, we were now confronted with the massive ramparts of the fortress, which, warned by the watch tower, immediately began to fire a salute from a battery of 12-pounder iron guns, the sound of which reverberated sharply from the rocky walls of the glen."

Today, visitors expecting the grim, black fortress described in guidebooks will find that Nakhle has been restored to its original golden splendor. It is presently the headquarters of the Moroccan restoration team, whose general rule is to employ virtually no materials that come from more than a few kilometers around a monument's site. The restorers' dedication to authenticity is exemplified in the painstaking process by which they learned to make sarouj, a local ingredient of both mortar and plaster. Cement plaster was tried in earlier restorations with unsatisfactory results: The mud-brick beneath was unable to give off moisture and the new facades soon fractured.

Now, the restorers analyze the composition of the original building materials, and consult local elders about the proper way to produce sarouj. The raw material is soil from a date-palm grove, taken only with the owner's permission, which is mixed with water and dried in the sun. It is then baked in a traditional oven, baked again in the sun, and finally mixed with other materials into the appropriate blends for an individual fort.

Only local earth from near a fort is used in its restoration to ensure that the genuine texture and color will be achieved. El-Alaoui admits that six months might be required to hit upon the correct sarouj for a particular fort. Similar care is taken to produce mud brick, woodwork, metalwork, and paint. In keeping with local esteem for the date palm, only the trunks of dead palms are employed as ceiling supports.

Oman's cooperative restoration effort has sparked a revival of disappearing local crafts. Young apprentices from local towns learn the arts of carpentry, sarouj-making, and every other step. "We work together and we think together," says el-Alaoui. "This training is also important because the Omanis can carry on with the maintenance later."

Constructed of fairly perishable materials, Oman's forts have necessarily been altered and renovated over the centuries. Even today, in keeping with this somewhat controversial tradition, the restorers are not above correcting the visual balance of a fort by adding an arch or a wall, or constructing a new facility such as a platform for governor's audiences - as long as these features fit stylistically and logically with the architectural tradition.

One of the most majestic monuments in all Oman, however, is still in ruins: the castle of Bahla, towering even in its dilapidated state more than 50 meters (165 feet) above the surrounding palms. According to historical manuscripts, sections of Bahla fort date back to pre-Islamic Persian occupation of Oman. For centuries, Bahla was also capital of the Banu Nabhan dynasty that preceded the Ya'ariba. As noted by the International Council on Monuments and Sites, "The fort has never been restored, representing a remarkable example of authenticity, and is not protected by any conservation measures; meanwhile, great chunks of wall collapse each year after the rainy season."

The situation began to improve in 1988, when the fort, the nearby mosque with its sculpted mihrab, or prayer niche, and the 12-kilometer (7.5-mile) wall enclosing the town of Bahla and much of the palm oasis were inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. This act places Bahla among spectacular natural and cultural sites of "exceptional universal value ... which should remain intact for future generations."

Today, the restored forts, left behind by the masons and woodworkers, and watched over by traditional turbaned guards with cartridge belts round their waists, are immaculate refuges of silent and austere beauty. Their curving stairways, arches, courtyards, and crenelations are monumental sculptures of deep shadow and dazzling light - but they are touristic curiosities devoid of life. Traditionally the seats of authority, some restored forts, it is true, continue to host the traditional majlis of the regional governor. Still, Oman may look for other local uses - compatible with preservation - that will enliven these monuments of which the local people are so fiercely, and so justifiably, proud.

Lynn Teo Simarski is a Washington writer and editor who specializes in the Middle East.

This article appeared on pages 8-17 of the January/February 1991 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.

See Also: CASTLES, MUSEUMS, OMAN, RESTORATION". Unquote.



By now much of Bahla Fort is completely restored and with its vast wall of 12 Kilometres long it offers an insight into this incredible fortified town and Fortress.


Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 9th August 2016, 02:27 AM   #67
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Old 9th August 2016, 02:35 AM   #68
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Default Battle For Diu 1509.

As a reasonable compilation of Forts has built up and the Cannon will follow ...I thought we could look at the situation building up between the Portuguese and Ottoman, Mamluke and Indian players in the Indian Ocean starting with the important battles around Dui..Wikipedia gives a reasonable account for a basic understanding of what transpired but that series of battles was a game-changer and sets the tone for the switch of emphasis that would take Portuguese interests to a new pinnacle in India...for them.

Thus from Wikipedia; I Quote" Egyptian Mamluks soldiers had little expertise in naval warfare, and the Portuguese often attacked and stole supplies of Malabar timber from India, so the Mamluk Sultan, Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri appealed for Ottoman support. The Ottoman Sultan, Beyazid II — whose navy had helped Spanish Moors and Sephardic Jews expelled by the Spanish Inquisition in 1492 — supplied Egypt with Mediterranean-type war galleys manned by Greek sailors and Ottoman volunteers, mainly Turkish mercenaries and freebooters.[6] These vessels, which Venetian shipwrights helped disassemble in Alexandria and reassemble on the Red Sea coast, had to brave the Indian Ocean. The galley warriors could mount light guns fore and aft, but not along the gunwales because these cannon would interfere with the rowers. The native ships (dhows), with their sewn wood planks, could carry no heavy guns at all. Hence, most of the coalition's artillery was archers, whom the Portuguese could easily outshoot''.Unquote.

For more on this exciting development please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Diu_%281509%29

What may be remembered is that for ships from the Ottoman side they had to be stripped down and transported in carts from Alexandria and re floated in the Red Sea !!... These were the Mediterranean style Galleons, low in the water, with oarsmen down each side thus no guns except light weight arms forward and aft...and armed primarily with bows and arrows. Towering above them were the Portuguese who could batter them to pieces at long range with superior artillery and at closer quarters throw grenades and fire down onto the low in the water competition...

Below a map of the later constructed Portuguese Fort at Diu.
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Old 9th August 2016, 01:50 PM   #69
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A PDF document of a most interesting paper titled:

The Earliest Shipboard Gunpowder Ordnance: An Analysis of Its Technical Parameters and Tactical Capabilities

By John F. Guilmartin, Jr.*

Herewith an (one sided ) extract of some passages, where the tactic of waterline artillery and water tight gun ports played a decisive role in XVI century warfare.

Few technological developments in the history of warfare have been as portentous as the appearance around the turn of the sixteenth century of effective heavy gunpowder ordnance on shipboard, which began a new era in sea warfare. Employed on Mediterranean war galleys and Portuguese caravels, the weapons marked the solution of a series of daunting technological problems discussed in this article, beginning with the appearance of gunpowder in Europe about 1300. Unlike developments on land, change was at first gradual, but shortly after 1400 the pace of development sharply accelerated to culminate in what may legitimately be termed a revolution in firepower at sea.
ROUND the turn of the sixteenth century, gunpowder ordnance of unprecedented effectiveness began to appear aboard European warships. Employed on Portuguese caravels and Mediterranean war galleys, these weapons swiftly and dramatically reshaped the face of warfare at sea.
Strategically, heavy naval guns mounted aboard purpose-built warships gave the Portuguese effective control over as much of the Indian Ocean as they chose to dominate and provided the operational means for the Habsburg-Ottoman struggle for control of the Mediterranean that culminated at Lepanto in 1571.2 Tactically, they challenged the high-sided carrack, until then the premier European sailing warship, and within a few decades would render it obsolescent save as an armed transport in distant and lightly contested waters. They also paved the way for the development of the galleon, the first genuinely transoceanic warship able to bring heavy guns offensively to bear, and—although the process took over a century and a half—the galleon evolved into the ship-of-the-line, the definitive instrument of European world hegemony. These developments are matters of no small historical importance, yet their beginnings have received surprisingly little scholarly attention.
The developments in gun design did not take place in a vacuum. The new ordnance was mounted aboard purpose-built warships that were employed in squadrons using novel tactics, a combination that introduced a new era in warfare at sea. The dawn of that era was demonstrated most spectacularly off the Malabar Coast in early 1503 in Vasco da Gama’s defeat of an Indian-Arab fleet that vastly outnumbered his force in vessels and men. Da Gama formed his fleet into two squadrons, one of caravels and one of carracks. The caravels, though substantially smaller than the carracks, carried the heavier guns, taking advantage of the caravels’ low freeboard to mount them near the waterline in order to inflict maximum damage on enemy hulls. Da Gama’s caravel squadron led the way in what would later be called line ahead, using superior sailing characteristics to work to windward of the Muslims. There, the caravels’ broadside firepower kept the smaller and more numerous Muslim vessels at bay, destroying or disabling them by gunfire before they could close and board, leaving the carracks with their more numerous, lighter guns to mop up. The result was the beginning of more than a century of Portuguese hegemony in the Indian Ocean and the emergence of tiny Portugal as a world power.
Guns protruding through circular ports in the hull begin to appear on depictions of sailing warships in the last two decades of the fifteenth century, suggesting larger guns. That having been said, however, carracks did not commonly mount ordnance capable of doing serious damage to ships’ hulls until a decade or so after the turn of the sixteenth century when, or so we surmise, the invention of the watertight gunport made it possible to mount them low in the hull on what would become the gun deck. In the meantime, the tendency was toward larger numbers of small guns firing above the bulwarks and rails. It was against this background that the Portuguese began arming caravels with heavy ordnance.
On balance, it does not appear that early Portuguese success with heavy naval ordnance was attributable to any one technological breakthrough, for which there are four candidates: the watertight gunport, corned powder, improved gun carriages, and guns of new and superior design. Acting in combination, these would eventually increase the effectiveness of sailing warships dramatically, but the effects are barely visible prior to the Invincible Armada of 1588, and it would be a mistake to read the developments of the late sixteenth century backward in time. The earliest evidence of watertight gunports is in the depiction of a three-masted Flemish vessel on the seal of Maximilian, Prefect of Burgundy, dated 1493, but the first gunports about which we know anything were mounted on ships’ sterns, and it is clear that the heaviest Portuguese ordnance in 1503 fired laterally. While the Portuguese were quick to embrace the watertight gunport and may even have invented it, the concentration of heavy ordnance aboard caravels rather than on the larger carracks argues against its widespread adoption prior to the 1520s.
The Portuguese surely had corned powder by 1500, though whether or not they used it in their largest ordnance is unclear. In any case, there is no need to invoke corned powder, for serpentine continued to be used at sea for many decades and would have served. There is no evidence one way or the other that the Portuguese used novel gun carriages aboard their sailing warships and, as with serpentine powder, sledge carriages, perhaps with a pair of wheels forward to facilitate aiming, would have sufficed.
Finally, it is possible—indeed, probable in my view—that at the turn of the sixteenth century, Portuguese ordnance was the equal of any in the world, though that does not necessarily imply radically new design. It is clear that the design of heavy Portuguese ordnance was distinctive. The term camelo, applied to the standard Portuguese battery piece for shipboard use, has no equivalent in other European languages, and the design of the camelo and smaller camelete is unlike that of other European naval guns with which I am familiar. Camelos were relatively long muzzle-loading stone throwers with powder chambers of reduced diameter; they could be of bronze or wrought iron. Their proportions suggest that they were exceptionally efficient in terms of destructive power as a function of barrel weight, but while the camelo’s performance was no doubt superior, the distinction was one of degree rather than kind. The Portuguese breakthrough in gunnery afloat must have begun with the dual appreciation that a large gun firing a stone ball could do significant damage to the hull of a ship and that heavy shipboard ordnance had to be mounted near the waterline to avoid compromising stability. In practical terms, that meant firing through or over the bulwarks of a low-lying caravel. Since caravels were small, that meant a limited number of large guns, perhaps only one or two. The caravel’s speed and maneuverability maximized its effectiveness as a gun platform and, at the same time, reduced the danger of boarding. The caravel’s small size and efficiency also meant a small crew, an important demographic and economic advantage for Portugal. Numbers of swivel guns were provided to deal with boarders and to wreak havoc on the open decks of low-lying enemy ships, but the Portuguese seem to have understood at an early stage that it was the heavy ordnance, firing low, that counted. As a conceptual breakthrough, this appreciation ranks with the perception that using guns to knock down walls was more decisive than lobbing projectiles over them. As with the earlier breakthrough, the new tactics cannot be separated from the improved matériel that made them feasible. There is a clear parallel between the Bureau Brothers’ celebrated achievements in the Hundred Years’ War and those of the anonymous Portuguese officials who oversaw the design of the camelo, the manufacture of its powder, and its mounting aboard caravels.



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Old 9th August 2016, 05:39 PM   #70
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A 'CAMELO' Manuelino (XVI century) in the Military Museum of Lisbon.
The Galleon, a war ship by excelence, was a long ship with a lower draft, therefore more speedy than the nau (carrack) disposing of a fearsome fire power. Galleon São Dinis, for one, a 300 ton built in India during the time of Governor Diogo Lopes de Sequeira (1518-1521) carried 21 camelos under the deck, 12 per board, 2 at the stern, 4 at the poop deck, 2 over the perpau (?), 4 on the deck, plus 9 falcons and 20 berços.


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Old 9th August 2016, 09:34 PM   #71
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It's amazing the artwork lavished on these guns!
Here's an interesting cascabel from a probably 17-18th century great gun.
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Old 9th August 2016, 11:11 PM   #72
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Amazing indeed. These are all in the Military Museum in Lisbon. I like the one with the boyfriends.


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Old 9th August 2016, 11:18 PM   #73
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Old 9th August 2016, 11:22 PM   #74
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Old 10th August 2016, 12:26 AM   #75
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Thank you so much Fernando and Rick!
Indeed outstanding artwork and profoundly representing the huge value and importance of guns to all powers and cultures. We deeply admire these everlasting remains of history which remain in situ in so many places as sentinels of that very history and the events that unfolded there.

While the fortresses and various installations often remain in various degree archeologically, the cannon seem to survive as well in the same manner but despite their considerable weight, often moved to new locations.

The artwork on these guns can often tell us about the nations or cultures who forged them, and markings typically deeply marked in them give us much detail on their history. There are various keys to coded entries which recorded weights, foundries and dates .

The fortresses often reflect key information structurally which tell us about strategy, tactics and warfare as employed using these massive structures.

It seems that the Portuguese fortresses and guns of course have often remained in such a network of locations that the importance of their foundation in global exploration stands as legion in history. While this topic began with the forts in Oman, this was one strong foothold in that vast network, and it is great to be able to review others to connect these together .

Looking at the cannon themselves, what is fascinating is their very venerability. These were in use for remarkable periods, and often ended up in other contexts far from their origins.

The outstanding material which Ibrahiim and Fernando have entered here, though heavy in text, is essential to our better understanding of this field, and great to have here as part of our corpus of data as reference.
Thank you guys for taking the time to add it.

I recall a few years ago in St. Augustine Florida when we were visiting the old Spanish fortifications there overlooking the inlet. They had a display of firing the huge guns there.........incredibly impressive!!!!
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Old 10th August 2016, 01:33 AM   #76
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Magnificent pictures ! I recall sitting on a mound in the middle of a not yet restored Fort a few decades back...and after brushing off some dust discovered what it was that I had been sitting upon... A huge Portuguese Bronze Cannon with the name plate of Albuquerque the famous Portuguese General !
~ Getting back to the Diu battle I was amazed to discover the peculiar origins of the protagonists and the strategy employed by each. It is apparent that the Portuguese tactics and equipment were far superior to the opponents but equally difficult to see how later they would be on the losing side in Bahrain, Muscat, Zanzibar, the Zanj (Fort Jesus)...and why? Their defeat on the coast of Arabia and Africa had nothing to do with tactics as it was the effects of fever; Cholera and Malaria which signaled their collapse.

Due to its strategic importance, there was a Battle of Diu in 1509 between Portugal and a combined force of Turkey, Egypt, Venice, the Republic of Ragusa (now known as Dubrovnik) and the Sultan of Gujarat, Mahmud Begada. In 1513, the Portuguese tried to establish an outpost there, but negotiations were unsuccessful. There were failed attempts by Diogo Lopes de Sequeira in 1521, Nuno da Cunha in 1523. In 1531 the conquest attempted by D. Nuno da Cunha was also not successful.

For the remaining saga please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Diu_%281509%29

On the subject of Albuquerque upon whose cannon I had sat ! ~ Quote''He had brilliantly understood a number of factors: Albuquerque saw that there were three key emporia in the Indian Ocean: Malacca, Aden and Hormuz, each on a narrow strait controlling access to a major trade route. Malacca was the gateway to the Bay of Bengal, the Spice Islands (the Moluccas) and China. Aden was the gateway to Egypt, North Africa and the Mediterranean. Hormuz controlled access to the Gulf and the overland trade to Iran, Central Asia and the Middle Eastern heartlands."Unquote.

Please see http://archive.aramcoworld.com/issu....portuguese.htm
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Old 10th August 2016, 04:01 AM   #77
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Love this trunnion terminal, Fernando.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/attac...id=156226&stc=1

Portobelo was an incredible place to visit in Panama.
Pretty much still a fever ridden backwater as it was back when Morgan sacked the place.
Good feelings walking around the fortifications.
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Old 10th August 2016, 02:42 PM   #78
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They are toys, let me show you a real canon...
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Old 10th August 2016, 04:04 PM   #79
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That's all well and good Kubur; but I would think that a fort would get knocked down around one's ears by 'toy cannon' during the time it would take to load and fire that behemoth two times.
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Old 10th August 2016, 05:42 PM   #80
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The subject was cannon artwork, Kubur. If you are looking for the cannon competition, is HERE .



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Old 10th August 2016, 11:37 PM   #81
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Vital stuff ~ I liked in particular the old sketch of 16th C Cannon so here it is again...I include sketches and relevent artwork here for ethnographic purposes so as to get a flavour of life at the time. Bear in mind that for the Portuguese to visit every region in say their Southern Asian sphere of operations it would be more than a circumnavigation of the world in terms of distance...
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Old 10th August 2016, 11:41 PM   #82
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The Cannon below was at Fort Jalali but has been relocated to Hazm.. probably for the ongoing exhibition along with Cannon from 27 different countries. The green imprint on another Portuguese Cannon is below.

As a bi product of searching for Portuguese battledress of the approximate period inspired by the green imprint of the below impression please see the astonishing series of tapestries at http://www.warfare.altervista.org/1...er-far-left.htm
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Old 11th August 2016, 01:56 AM   #83
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To get a broad idea of what a Portuguese battle group consisted here is a portrait picture... The Famous Portuguese Carrack...and other craft .

From https://hist21bsection3.wordpress.c...gorized/page/7/

I Quote"This painting of a 16th century Portuguese shipping vessel, called a Carrack, was painted by an unidentified artist in 1540. The Carrack was the second of the preferred shipping vessels used in the 16th century by the Portuguese to make long sea voyages. These vessels were an adaptation and evolvement of the caravel and were much larger. They had a combination of square and lanteen sails, could mount heavy cannons for defense (against pirates or rival naval powers), had multiple decks for different types of cargo, and even had a deck for crew quarters. At each end of the ship were platforms called high “castles” which gave soldiers armed with firearms or crossbows and cannoniers a commanding position from which to defend their vessel and repel seaborne attacks.

The Carrack became the workhorse of transoceanic trade in the 16th century".Unquote.

Regarding advancement in the art of Artillery ...From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_India_Armadas

I Quote"Naval artillery was the single greatest advantage the Portuguese held over their rivals in the Indian Ocean – indeed over most other navies – and the Portuguese crown spared no expense in procuring and producing the best naval guns European technology permitted.

King John II of Portugal is often credited for pioneering, while still a prince in 1474, the introduction of a reinforced deck on the old Henry-era caravel to allow the mounting of heavy guns.[19] In 1489, he introduced the first standardized teams of trained naval gunners (bombardeiros) on every ship, and development of naval tactics that maximized broadside cannonades rather than the rush-and-grapple of Medieval galleys.

The Portuguese crown appropriated the best cannon technology available in Europe, particularly the new, more durable and far more accurate bronze cannon developed in Central Europe, replacing the older, less accurate wrought-iron cannon. By 1500, Portugal was importing vast volumes of copper and cannon from northern Europe, and had established itself as the leading producer of advanced naval artillery in its own right. Being a crown industry, cost considerations did not curb the pursuit of the best quality, best innovations and best training.[20] The crown paid wage premiums and bonuses to lure the best European artisans and gunners (mostly German) to advance the industry in Portugal. Every cutting-edge innovation introduced elsewhere was immediately appropriated into Portuguese naval artillery – that includes bronze cannon (Flemish/German), breech-loading swivel-guns (prob. German origin), truck carriages (possibly English), and the idea (originally French, c. 1501[21]) of cutting square gunports (portinhola) in the hull to allow heavy cannon to be mounted below deck.[22]

In this respect, the Portuguese spearheaded the evolution of modern naval warfare, moving away from the Medieval warship, a carrier of armed men, aiming for the grapple, towards the modern idea of a floating artillery piece dedicated to resolving battles by gunnery alone.

According to Gaspar Correia, the typical fighting caravel of Gama's 4th Armada (1502) carried 30 men, four heavy guns below, six falconets (falconete) above (two fixed astern) and ten swivel-guns (canhão de berço) on the quarter-deck and bow.

An armed carrack, by contrast, had six heavy guns below, eight falconets above and several swivel-guns, and two fixed forward-firing guns before the mast.[23] Although an armed carrack carried more firepower than a caravel, it was much less swift and less manoeuvrable, especially when loaded with cargo. A carrack's guns were primarily defensive, or for shore bombardments, whenever their heavier firepower was necessary. But by and large, fighting at sea was usually left to the armed caravels.

The development of the heavy galleon removed even the necessity of bringing carrack firepower to bear in most circumstances. One of them became famous in the conquest of Tunis and could carry 366 bronze cannons, for this reason, it became known as Botafogo, meaning literally fire maker, torcher or spitfire in popular Portuguese'' Unquote.
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Old 11th August 2016, 02:25 AM   #84
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In terms of opposition there were two types of craft employed by Ottoman naval forces ...The first was a Mediterranean style of rowed and sail driven ship and another...a Galleon style..below; From https://hist21bsection3.wordpress.c...gorized/page/7/

I Quote''This picture demonstrates the Ottoman Empire’s Navy during the 1517’s. We can tell from the illustration that the Ottoman Navy was currently in battle and on board they would carry artillery in imitations of their adversary, such as cannons and gunpowder. The army occupied Egypt’s territory and sent down it’s fleet to the Red Sea to confront the Portuguese and restore lost Asian Trade. The Ottoman forces pushed the Portuguese from Aden at the entrance of the Red Sea, but the warfare between them remained indecisive. When other European powers entered the Indian Ocean,the Ottoman Empire withdrew their aggressive strategy.''Unquote.

It has to be said that although there was some Ottoman artillery they weren't much match for the Portuguese and the main armament was bows and arrows.
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Old 11th August 2016, 04:59 AM   #85
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Some lightweight controversy exists over the question of the Caravel...a much lighter vessel with a Lanteen sail (which actually needed more sailors to operate it) This was a good vessel for exploration because of its shallower draft..ideal for sailing up rivers etc... I will place it here as it was also a workhorse and a for runner to the Carrack but please consider http://nautarch.tamu.edu/shiplab/01...l%20History.htm for a much fuller explanation.
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Old 11th August 2016, 06:12 PM   #86
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Meddling into the navigation of the middle ages, there were ships Egyptian, Fenitian, Greek, Roman, etc. As types we had Isócoros, triacôntoros, pentacôntoros, tessaracôntoros, trieres, liburnas, dromos, quelandios, panfílios, galleys, cáravos, galeaças, galeotas, bergantins, fustas, hólcares, urcas, esnécares, drácares, azurrachas, pecarezas, caravelas, etc. (Sorry, too hard to translate ).
It is written that, at same time of the galley, Romans and Byzantines used a type of Latin embarcation designated as Carabus, a term apparently derived from the Moorish cáravo, of which the Portuguese took knowledge in the whereabouts of the Gibraltar straight, and from which they built up, in smaller proportions, the caravela type. This was an open mouth low draft ship, equipped with both with sailing rig and rowing oars. In the year 1255, a charter granted by King Dom Afonso III mentioned the name of caravela, by then a ship also used for fishing purposes, hence its other name pescareza. From here to its adaptation for discoveries in the African coast and later battling in the Indic, took no time, as already mentioned. It is true that its design provided for gross artillery mounted on its low board decks, as is also true that its inconvenience was the need for a large crew; the thing is, its sail yards was rather long (longer than its masts) and it required a large and experienced crew for the delicate manoeuvre of tacking and board flipping the lateen sails, which constituted a handicap for ships of such dimension. On the other hand, large crews were no problem for large naus (fairly translated as carracks) where artillery power was diminute but their cargo capacity was speechless. Pyrard de Laval gives us a exuberant description of the characteristics and life aboard these giant ships (1600-1610) that one finds hard to believe; yet he was not Portuguese, but a Frenchman, with no need to exuberate in other's favor. He says that their dislocation could go from 1500 to 2000 tons and they could not navigate in waters with less than 10 braces (22 meters). They had four decks the height of a man. The bow and stern castles were so big they resembled actual castles. They could carry an artillery force of 35 to 40 pieces of bronze (no iron), plus some small pieces, like ‘esperas’ and ‘pedreiros’, mounted in the crow’s nests, as these were large enough to lodge ten men.
Their masts were so high that, both main and mizzen had to be made with two parts, as there was no trees with such length. Their sail yards could have 24 braces length (over 50 meters) requiring 200 men to put them up, with the help of two capstans …
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Old 12th August 2016, 02:12 PM   #87
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AS A FORM OF VISUAL INTERPRETATION OF THE ETHNOGRAPHIC SCENERY OF THE DAY AND IMAGINING BEING ABOARD SOME OF THESE SHIPS ETC I POST THE PICTURES BELOW..

The map is important as it illustrates the fabled land of Prester John (Dutch made by the Family Ortelius)) for the Portuguese who searched for three things in the Indian Ocean... in no particular order; Slaves, Gold and Silver, and Spices. The fourth thing they sought were mercenaries whom they thought existed in the Kingdom of Prester John which though it had existed several centuries earlier in Ethiopia it had disappeared by the time the Portuguese arrived by ship. Somewhat ironically a land based expedition arrived from Portugal at more or less the same time in Ethiopia and it is interesting to consider what would have transpired had the ships been unable to get there. One of the first choke points applied was to restrict Mamluke activity in the mouth of the Red Sea...This had a dramatic effect causing huge pressure on the Mamluke treasury starved of its Chinese trade and without funding virtually bankrupt thus vulnerable to the Ottoman Empire.

The longboat/ship with oars down each side is Venetian and since they were fighting against Portuguese you can see the immediate problem being so close to the waterline and armed primarily with bows and arrows...thus vulnerable to long range ships artillery as well as the danger of closing with the enemy ...making them very susceptible at all ranges to the 5 deck Portuguese ... apparently grenades caused them a lot of problems...
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Old 12th August 2016, 03:16 PM   #88
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Having set the scenery..I hope... It is now time to look at some of the Omani Forts in detail and I first chose Nizwa Fort.This is an interesting fortification being at the centre of the capital of the interior and on top of its own water supply...with as its main defence a gigantic round tower also acting as a dungeon. This enormous roundel gives it automatic all round defence and superb fields of fire and observation. It is reinforced not only to enable cannon to fire from its walls but also so that it can absorb fire . I have no evidence that cannon fired at or from the Fort however the weapon at one side of the gate below is apparently Portuguese ...Whereas some cannon were deployed from positions just outside the fort proper e.g. Barka they were on a secondary wall usually tri angular and massively built and able to retreat into the fort in the advent of a too powerful assault and fire from their secondary positions.

Nizwa Fort is examined at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nizwa_Fort

Below is the pictorial...Please note that two cannon are displayed outside the door... The one on your left is Portuguese whilst on your right is an 18th C Swedish Iron "Finbanker" on a repro British carriage; Interesting that Finspang in Sweden made these mainly for export and purchased by the Dutch and Portuguese may have been captured by the British in Indian Ocean waters and sold to Oman....It was an 18 pounder.
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Old 12th August 2016, 06:21 PM   #89
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There is a vast selection of Cannon to view at http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/bronze-cannon.html
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Old 14th August 2016, 04:58 PM   #90
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Ibrahiim, thanks for putting this info together all in one place, this is a good history lesson.
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