Full Version: Linothorax vs Quilted linen vs spolas
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Did the leather spolas replace the linothorax? I've read in one account that spolas and (in another), the linothorax were the most popular form of non-metallic armour in their time - which is true? Does that mean the spolas replaced the linothorax? Where can I see a picture of a spolas? Did the spolas and the linothorax have similar weights?

Are there any ancient depictions of Greek troops wearing the quilted linen cuirass? Did Egyptian troops wear it? Is there any evidence that peltasts wore the quilted linen cuirass? Was the quilted llinen cuirass cooler to wear in hot climates than a linothorax? Would the quilted linen be easier to make (and therefore presumably cheaper) than a linothorax? Did the quilted cuirass weigh less than the linothorax?
Your question is based on flawed assumptions. The linothorax was (most likely) made of quilted linen and I have yet to see a convincing argument that the spolas was designed to be used as body armour.
All of this can be found on other threads.

Herodotus mentions the linen thorax for barbarians--Lydians, I think--and Egyptians. That's it. And frankly, if Greeks had ever worn them, Herodotus wouldn't have mentioned them as an oddity. (Open to debate, I freely admit)

Color reconstructions of the so-called "linothorax" (I attach one) show them as leather or bronze colored.

[Image: n681611203_2130215_1050.jpg]

There's debate about the tone of the yellow in the thorax, but none about the color itself--yellow. Not white. This color can represent vegetable dyed leather or bronze, I suspect.

I invite all supporters of the "linothorax" to go to the Perseus Project website and search the word "linothorax" in Greek or in English against the entire database of Classical literature. It's an eye-opening experience.

To me--just my opinion--this is a prime example of how excellent secondary sources (I'm a big fan of the Osprey books) can get something wrong and then pollute scholarship with it. It's like the media effect... So I apologize if I seem shrill on the subject.
An exellent 15th century Italian source (Mancini) describes the cloth armour of English archers that is said to be able to stop an arrow or turn a blade. Its 25 layers of linen quilted together and stuffed with tow. Rene de Anjou (also 15th century) says padded coats need to be three fingers thick to be adequate protection... under armour.

I made a sample and did cut tests against it a number of years ago, and you really need 25 layers and stuffing in order to stop a cut or thrust, and the stuffing is really neccesary to prevent a cut or thrust.

And it looks nothing like the depictions in statuary or vases. In particular the statuary, like the sample Christian posted shows no evidence whatsoever of quilting, and quilting is distinctive, stuffed or unstuffed. Linen glued together has also been posited, and with modern adhesives may simulate the look, but historically available adhesives have a number of failings that render them pretty poor for use in armour: The dissolved in water or heat, and they are extremely brittle. Body heat and sweat dissolve them all.

All that said, I don't entirely disbelieve in linen usage in armour... If you've got something to actually protect you. So linen backing scale armour might be in the realm of possibility, but I have a hard time believing in linen as armour in its own right in the period, particularly given the abscence of sources that support the hypothesis.

On the flip side, latigo is an extremely tough leather that resists cutting and piercing. A "friend" of mine managed to snap of the tip of an extremely good knife off in a piece of latigo while trying to pierce a hole in it, and it takes a few passes with a fresh blade of a craft knife to cut through it.

So, I'm fully in support of the leather hypothesis.

Have fun!
Cole Cioran
aka Nikolaos of the Corvaxi
I'll just add that there is almost no written evidence as to how organic tube-and-yoke armours were made or what they were called. The word "linothorax" is a modern term. Homer mentions it centuries before the tube-and-yoke first appears in art, and there are a few references to Greek armour of linen in Classical literature. There is better evidence that the "spolas" was a leather garment of some kind, but we don't know if it was armour. Some people think it was the ancient name for the "linothorax" but I'm not convinced.

So we are down to the art, which shows a smooth white surface and springy shoulders.

Oh, and yes, Htd. does say that Egyptians wore quilted linen cuirasses. They seem to have had a vest cut although images of Egyptian soldiers are scarce.
This is all extremely interesting; I don't find a great deal written about ancient non-metallic armour (there's plenty about medieval versions). Is there a good reference that discusses the three types? I think the three types makes the most sense. They had plenty of time to work out any problems with natural glues. I've only seen reconstructions of the quilted linen type (eg in Warry) but it looks completely different from the layered type (which I have worn)- more like a sleeveless anorak. I haven't read how the quilted type was supposed to be made. I'm intrigued that Warry says that Plutarch says that Alexander wort the quilted type, as this might provide part of the explanation as to why he survived such terrible wounds. However, that surely doens't fit with the armour shown in the Alexander mosaic or with the armour found in Vergina. It also doesn't make sense that Alexander would not wear the best and most expensive available armour of the time. I had a look at previous threads and they didn't seem to discuss exactly what I wanted and mainly seemed to discuss the use of quilted armour in Persian use. Where is the yoike in the linothorax?
Quote:They had plenty of time to work out any problems with natural glues.

We have to do better than this.

Please, someone, prove that it can be done. Look--I make stuff as closely as possible to the way it was made for 1775. In 1775, there is no glue that will stand up to five days of rain...

various hide glues--and especially fish glues like those still used by musical instrument makers, have very nice properties and will last 200 years in humidity. But they can't take the direct assault of rain.

Add to that the cost. look at attic red figure vases and see who is wearing linen--and then imagine the cost of 25 layers of linen. It would be heavier, bulkier, and MORE EXPENSIVE then bronze.
Could paint have possibly been used to help seal the armour from rain?
Linen was definitely dyed and painted, which probably explains the above yellow armour, but did they have a paint that was waterproof?

FWIW there is evidence for quilted linen and cotton armour in many cultures for thousands of years. There is nothing to suggest that glued linen was ever used by anyone ever. It has been demonstrated by several people in past threads that glued linen offers worse protection than if the same number of layers were quilted. It has been demonstrated that glue causes the cloth to lose one of its main benefits - the ability to wick away sweat. It has been demonstrated that quilted linen can be "springy" like the shoulder flaps in some illustrations. There isn't a single piece of evidence to support the existence of glued linen armour in any shape or form in any culture in any time period. This subject should die the death it deserves until some fresh evidence is presented.
I may be going out on a limb here, but could beeswax been used for waterproofing? my lino is painted and I rubbed it with Bee Grease (beeswax and Tallow) on a whim, and I have found it to be very much waterproof on the treated surfaces. I got stuck in a rather nasty rainstorm at an event last year and the only places where it got uncomfortably wet was where water from my tunic soaked in and got to the underside, which is unpainted and uncoated. Even then it wasnt any wetter than it has gotten from my sweat standing out in those *great* 98 degree days we like to get round here. Although it does need to have a new coat put on every once in awhile to keep up the waterproof qualities.

Also, I remember back when I did CW in a pinch we would take pork grease and coat the outside of our rifle barrels with it to keep them from rusting. It was nasty and smelled... interesting, but it did the job well. Although it did make cleaning them before firing a real pain. I'm not saying that the ancient Greeks would have rubbed fat into their armor, but I do know that it does help repel water.

Just a thought.

I think that anything that was used would have to have been treated with something, be it paint or something else. Ive seen untreated leather do some pretty interesting things when wet as well. But thats just me.
Quote:I made a sample and did cut tests against it a number of years ago, and you really need 25 layers and stuffing in order to stop a cut or thrust, and the stuffing is really neccesary to prevent a cut or thrust.
No you don't. If it is quilted properly then you only need a dozen or so layers to stop the hardest knife thrust you can deliver. Half a dozen layers are enough to stop a sword cut. The closer the rows of stitches the more rigid the result.
Let's approach this differently.

I believe that the common form of armor was leather, and I'm making a set to demonstrate my theory. I propose that Dan make a set that is quilted, and that someone volunteer to make a set glued (*that will use only period glues and materials and stand the 5 days of rain test) and then we all meet up at Marathon, show our work, and test it in a spirit of comradeship.

It may be that we're al correct. It may be that we're all wrong! But if we believe in experimental archeaology, we SHOULD be the people who can figure it out!
Resources Cristian.
Where hides were easily aquired that type of arrmor would dominate.
Where linen was easily aquired linen armor would dominate.
Did they mix materials? A matter of speculation.

Homer uses the word "linothoriktos" linen armor in 2nd rapsody where he describes the eqipment of Ajax of Oileus (NOT the tall guy!).
I belive that spolas is probably a subarmalis becasue after anuble of nasty experiences peopl would learn to guard from blunt trauma.

Kind regards
Exactly. During the Middle Ages leather armour was very rare in north western Europe but it was the most common armor type in central and eastern Europe where there were large herds of cattle and horses. Nobody has presented any credible evidence for leather armor to be anything other than a curiosity in the Aegean during the classical period. Textile armours dominate everywhere that textiles were available. Pound for pound layered textiles offer better protection than leather - even hardened leather. Leather has other benefits such as being able to be shaped to more closely fit a body part - like metal plate.
Dan wrote:
>No you don't. If it is quilted properly then you only need a dozen or so layers to stop >the hardest knife thrust you can deliver. Half a dozen layers are enough to stop a >sword cut. The closer the rows of stitches the more rigid the result.

Alan Williams, author of "The Knight and the Blast Furnace" documentented the effectiveness of 16 layers of linen armour against cuts of the sword and thrusts of the spear, and found that a mere 50 Joules of energy is needed to penetrate the fabric with a spear, and 80 for a sword cut. Over 25 layers were require to defeat a sword cut in the midrange of energy for an effective sword cut (140-220 Joules)

For reference, 50 joules is approximately what you generate when you heft a shovel full of snow.

You also mention leather armour being very rare in North-western Europe. As leather armour was widespread enough to to lend its name "cuirasse" in French and English to armour in general, your position isn't terribly tenable.

Consider, when Edward the first and his friends have a tournament in cloth armour with light weapons at Blythe in 1258, William Longsword and Robert de Quincy are killed, and Roger Bigod has his faculties permanently impaired. And they were friends.

Subsequently Edward comissioned suits of cuir bouilli armour from existing leather armour makers for tournaments, which served quite well.

As mail armour begins to be less adequate during the middle ages, it is widely supplemented by leather armour throughout north western Europe and elsewhere. Leather breastplates (cuirasses) are among the first additions, and cuisses (thigh armour) as second. Both names are based on their origins as leather armour in north western europe. Leather was supplanted by inexpensive sheet metal in the industrial revolutions of the fourteenth and fifteenth century in north-western Europe, but leather armour is still manufacture in the area through the fifteenth century and beyond. The buff coat is a great example of the survival of leather armour well into the age of the gun in North western Europe as well.

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