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Hello ! what was the real dimension of a scutum of that period ? (legionary scutum); I'm not quite clear about the shape,back framing,etc since the transition between the oval to the rectangular one seems to be strange to me as the oval shape is a bit "tighter" than the rectangular one..could someone lighten me up on this one (pictures or drawing more than welcome !) tx
Ave!

Been here?

http://www.larp.com/legioxx/scutum.html

The short answer is that we have no short answers, unfortunately! Sizes and construction details seem to have varied quite a bit. The framing or reinforcing strips on the back may have been optional (I make them rectangular, not curved like the side of the shield).

What we call the "Augustan" style (or just "curve-sided") may just be the result of making the old Republican oval shield shorter so that it could be slung on the back more easily, without bumping the legs or interfering with the pack pole. So it's possible that it first appeared during Marius' time, though we can't prove that. We do know it was still being used into the 2nd century AD, since it is seen on Trajan's Column right alongside the rectangular style.

That what you're looking for? Vale,

Matthew
thank you for this precision; but if I take an oval (republican ) scutum and cut the top and bottom off, it will still look smaller in the width than a rectangular one,or am I mistaken ? As for the XX LEG site, I'll visit it often.
Not necessarily. Some shields were wider, some were narrower! My own Republican scutum is only 24 inches wide, and does seem narrower than it should be. But the one made by my friend is closer to 30 inches wide. My Imperial scutum is only 28 inches wide. All you can do is aim for proportions that seem to match the depictions that we have, balanced by what is pleasing to you. If you keep pretty much to the known minimums and maximums, you can't go far wrong.

Matthew
Well said, Matt. Add in that different body heights may dictate the size of the shield. A six foot five man will not carry the same sized scutum as a five foot two. The shield, after all, is for protection of the man who carries it. And it seems to work out ok in a testudo if the shields are not all the exact same size and curvature.
If I understand well, the shields were made according to the size of the carrier;a bit odd since in all armies it's the man who adapts to the weapon and not the contrary...so if we face a line of legionaries we'll be seeing shields of different sizes ? were these shields mass produced or made by the legionarie himself according to his size ? sorry to harp on the subject but then it could also be told for pilae...
Quote:If I understand well, the shields were made according to the size of the carrier;a bit odd since in all armies it's the man who adapts to the weapon and not the contrary...
Why do you say that? An army where every soldier buys a hand-made shield that meets some general requirements is different from one where every rifleman gets the same machine-made rifle.

My impression is that Roman military equipment and clothing always varied within a certain range. Simon James' book on Dura Europus has a good discussion of this.

Roman soldiers had to provide their own weapons. In the Republic, they would buy them from a dealer or get them from their family; under the empire, they might buy them from the army and pay in installments (but there are soldiers' letters in Egypt asking relatives to send a new sword). Many arms were produced by private businesses, but some were produced by the legions themselves or by public factories (some of these are marked in the Notitia Dignitatum). We don't know for sure that a bigger soldier would get a bigger shield (what if the only ones available were small?), but if he had a choice he would probably prefer a bigger one.
Sean, I base that on the notion that the scutum is generally manufactured to be approximately from shoulder to knee (regardless of the tiny shields represented on Trajan's Column), so a slightly crouching soldier is covered from chin to shin. It's not a logical extension that since modern armies mass produce exactly identical weapons with completely interchangable parts, the ancient armies also did. But we both know that.

As for the weapons, we have not enough specimens to definitively say things like "All short swords were the same length". They don't seem to be, though they fall within a fairly similar set of dimensions. Helmets are different sizes, armor was differently sized, (though the same style--and the size changed to fit the user)so why not shields?
Right, sizing the shield to the man is simply a theory. We know it did not always happen that way, since there is an account of a general (Scipio?) punishing a soldier who has an over-large shield. However, excavations in Athens have turned up Hellenistic "armory tokens", coin-like discs for armor, helmets, and shields, and they apparently indicate that shields came in 4 standard sizes. You can fit practically anyone with 4 sizes of most anything, so it's conceivable that the Romans had a similar method (minus the tokens, though, since we don't find things like that).

Plus, while we talk about equipment being "mass produced", remember that every item was made by hand. It seems safe to assume that craftsmen had patterns and templates, but I don't think it would have been any trouble for them to customize any particular piece coming out of their shop. Though I expect a tribune would be more likely to be placing an order for a special commissioned piece than your average grunt recruit!

Valete,

Matthew
it seems that the legionary scutum used up to around 100 BC was, lenghtwise, chin to feet; then (late republican period) it shorten to chin to shin; during the augustean period the shape changed (top and bottom cut off) and the length became chin to knee as for the later rectangular scutum; correct me if I'm wrong
Quote:then (late republican period) it shorten to chin to shin; during the augustean period the shape changed (top and bottom cut off) and the length became chin to knee as for the later rectangular scutum; correct me if I'm wrong
Do you have any evidence for this?
The Fayum shield e.g. seems to be of the same shape and roughly the same size as the shields fragmentary preserved at Masada, methinks.

W. Kimmig, Ein Keltenschild in Aegypten, Germania, XXIV (1940), pp. 106-111.

Masada VII
Well, that obviously proves that the Army Surplus business was well developed in that day, too, doesn't it? :lol: :roll:
I would vote for a single "standard" sized shield and explain differences by manufacturing and the evolving times. The archeological evidence seems to support that.

It would be too slow and expensive to match shield size to each soldier. Several stock sizes would work but I suspect very large and small men were not used in the regular units. Like today's military, they quickly found themselves with special duties where they did not disrupt the line of battle. Assuming they were fit, The tall might become archers and the short slingers. (The tallest would also be candidates carrying the unit standards.) for Of course, when things got hot, everyone would stand in the line.
And the small and slender would be tasked with cleaning out the Torpedus Tubae in the Submarini.
Quote:What we call the "Augustan" style (or just "curve-sided") may just be the result of making the old Republican oval shield shorter so that it could be slung on the back more easily, without bumping the legs or interfering with the pack pole.
As far as I am aware, this was the theory of Michael Simkins (The Roman Army from Caesar to Trajan, Osprey 1984, p.23), based on the reliefs on the Arch of Orange. I've never been convinced by this. I wonder what other people think?
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