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What do the shoulder flaps of the principate anatomical cuirass look like on the back-plate? Do they join a yoke, like the ancient linothorax, or do they just stop, or what?

I have never seen a photograph of the rear of an officer or emperor wearing a musculata (plate) or musculatising (scale or whatever) cuirass, does anyone know of such pictures?
I've searched through images of the musculata extensively, and I've never found one depicted with a yoke.

Personally, I do not believe that the anatomical cuirass so often depicted as worn by emperors has anything to do with the tube and yoke cuirass, as some others have argued in the past. I think you can make that argument for the shorter, cavalry-type musculata perhaps, but I believe the anatomical cuirass that you are speaking of was primarily reserved for show (heroic images etc.). I know we are talking about a great span of time here, but on Trajan's column, Trajan and his officers are all depicted as wearing the shorter muscled cuirass.

I tried a quick flickr search to see if I could find an image of the backside of the Augustus prima porta statue, but could not find it. This thread here, however, has 8 pages with links to images of various musculata, which you might find useful:
On a later roman (IIRC early 4th c.) carving, regular soldiers are depicted with musculatae. We in our group use one (altough without the flaps), and I (as the centurion) find it perfectly comfortable on the battlefield. The movements it does not allow are movements you don't need. In exchange, you'll get a sturdy armor, though valuable and heavy, keeping you in a tight, upright position, able to withstand a crazy amount of force, which would otherwise hurt pretty bad. Against slashes it might be a bit worse, than a hamata (since it's quite rigid), but against thrusts it is much-much better, I can show you the marks, if we meet sometime Wink
Thank you Alexander.
I agree with you about the long musculata having degenerated into a show piece by the time of the principate. However, I suspect the existence of an oriental, "musculatising" suit of flexible armour, as shown in the last pre-Roman and then Palmyran, Hatrene and Dura statues and reliefs. It is this expensive suit of armour that was enthousiastically adopted by Roman centurions.

I've been looking at those musculatas, but no back-plates! This is very frustrating! I think there is only one thing left for me to do, and that is to visit the nearest museum with a musculata statue and try to look at its back.
I also have to agree with Alexander and likewise I chased the Prima Porta without any luck, however when I made this one many years ago I created the rear or backplate all in one piece and it is taken from a statue in a museum in Cagliari of Drusus. It did function very well indeed and it was my idea to do it that way which of course does prove that it can be done this way, however this does not or may not be how in fact a short one of this type was made.
Cool cuirass.

You know Brian, some reliefs in profile of the short anatomical cuirass also seem to suggest exactly that, a flap at the front, and then nothing on the back. But I am not sure, it seems such a crude solution (no offence to your cuirass). I will have to go to the museum, tie down the warden and climb behind a couple of statues. So if you read in the papers about a mysterious incident in a museum in the Netherlands, it will probably be me.

By the way, why are pteruges allways made from brown leather? I would have thought they were of coloured linnen, red or white, or are your pteruges purple?
Have a look at this link-

It may be a statue of Valentinian I. This view shows the right side of the Statue and you can clearly see that the cuirasse is made of two sections, with some sort of hinge or clasp holding the right side in place. You can also just about see that the shoulder flap does indeed extend over the shouder to end at the shoulder blades.

These Pteruges are in fact 3 layers thick where there is another strip of leather inside of the front and back layers, there may well have been linnen ones however I consider pteruges were as much a protection as decoration. Here are the rest of the pteruges that the late Doug' Arnold used also for his Centurian outfit which would have given a very strong support for the lower regions.
Thanks Adrian, It looks indeed as if the flap goes down at the back at least as far as it does at the front. However, I wonder what would it would have looked like at the back. Like a yoke connecting the two shoulder-flaps? Or is it simply still the same flap running down his shoulder blade? And then, this is a rather late statue, so I wonder, was a plate armour cuirass still in existence? Perhaps among ancient trophies in heathen temples, but those would have been in a rather dilapidated state. Apparently flexible shoulderflaps would probably have been the first to go to pieces.

Brian, do you not think it possible that the linnen pteruges where composed of several layers, so they too could give considerable protection? It is something I know little about, did the ancient linothorax always contain metal, or were (as I believed it to be, perhaps wrongly) several layers of glued linnen sufficient? And if leather is superior, would the ancients have been able to whiten leather? I read in Herodotus that the Scythians used human skin for this, as it was already of pale color, but that might have been his explanation for white leatherwork among the nomads. Coloring leather red is no problem, I have seen some very good-looking pieces of home-made red leather on RAT.
This link shows several pages where you get a fairly clear view of the back and sides of the Collosus of Barletta. The hinges are rivetted on each side of the cuirasse by three rivets, so the cuirasse opens on the left. Unfortunately most of the left side of the statue is obscured by the arm and cloak, it would require someone going there with a flashlight and decent camera to take a picture beneath the arm, although I do see a hint of a line in the cuirasse under the arm. I was wrong about the flap going down the back as several ictures from the rear show no evidence of a flap down the back, only down the front which leads me to believe the flap was purely decoration.
Anyway, there are several pages of photographs on the link-

Although, unfortunately, I don't have the time at the moment to do a really thorough search for images, let me just throw some opinions at you that may answer some of your questions. I myself intend to create a impression of a late Republican era general (when sufficient funds are at hand), and have searched extensively through images of this type of armour.

For one, the shoulder flaps (I know there is another (Greek?) term used for these, but forget the precise word atm) do extend directly down the back side of the cuirass in most examples. I am 99.99% certain that I have seen a photograh of the back of the Augustus Prima Porta statue, and that this is the case on said piece. Another note of interest about that particular statue is that it seems as though there are hinges on top of the should flaps, so that the musculata would open up vertically, from bottom to top, as opposed to horizontally, which is what seems to usually be depicted.

Regarding the ptyruges, I believe that both leather and linen were used. We KNOW, from looking at statues dating from the Antonine period, that some form of textile was used for ptyruges, and opinions on this precise type of textile range from felt to linen, maybe even wool, but I personally see linen as the most likely as A) it would harken back to the days of the linen tube and yoke cuirass such as Alexander wore, and B) linen would be both lighter and more opulent than standard textiles of the time. However, I don't want to rule out the use of leather totally, and here's why: although this is entirely based off of subjective opinion, I believe that some of the archaic Greek ptyruges worn with cuirass as depicted on pottery appear very much to me as dark strips of leather. I believe that the Greeks depicted leather spolas-type garments as black in pottery, and linen tube and yokes as bright white. So, with the current understanding amongst many here that the tube and yoke cuirass was most likely constructed out of both linen (hence modern term linothorax) and leather (spolas) in Greek times, I do not think it would have been at all strange for a Roman to utilize either linen or leather for this (in itself) archaic and almost decorative form of protection.

Again, much of this is subjective opinion, but everything I've written here was developed over long periods of searching through materials and images, and lots of hours pondering, etc.
Quote:Have a look at this link-
It may be a statue of Valentinian I. This view shows the right side of the Statue and you can clearly see that the cuirasse is made of two sections, with some sort of hinge or clasp holding the right side in place. You can also just about see that the shoulder flap does indeed extend over the shouder to end at the shoulder blades.
Although this seems to correspond with the 'straight' pteryges of the Tetrarchs, I think that this particular part of that statue was remodelled at a mouch later date?
Thank you Adrian, it seems quite clear that what we thougth to be a shoulderflap on the back was simply an oxidation scar caused by run-off water behind the right arm, and a cut in the bronze at a right angle with the run-off pattern. So no yoke or shoulderflap on this statue. The photographs also seems to show that what looks like pteruges was in fact a crèpe cloth undergarment.

Alexander, I am inclined to agree with you. I still have not seen the back of a statue (I discovered my museum card date is expired, have to get a new one), but one of the picture links you gave me showed an anatomical cuirass with rectangular neck-opening, which suggests it was entirely bordered on the sides by a schoulderflap and perhaps even at the back by the neck-flap of a yoke! But how did they design the ending of such a shoulderflap on the shoulderblade in the absence of a yoke? Simply cut it straight off? I still have to see that for myself.

You are right, leather could have been colored black as well as red, and that would also be a good color, especially if combined with white, red and bronze.
What do you interpret to have been such a spolas? I always suspected they were simply the crèpe-like chitons worn underneath the yoke-cuirass, but I would love to be wrong about that. Do you have an example of pottery showing such a spolas?

Robert, I did not know that. It seems perfectly plausible considering the old fashioned, anatomically reasonably correct look of the cuirass, unlike the ungainly style of the legs of the colossus. Constantine decorated one of his victory arches with parts of an older victory arch, so it seems as if the late Romans were just as uncomfortable about their own contemporary art as we are of ours (diamond studded skulls, sawed through sharks and cows in alcohol and other boring "irony").
You are indeed correct Robert, one hand (I suspect the one with the Orb) plus part of the lower half of the body of the statue was melted down by monks to make Bells!!! The body was recontructed using the remaining sections, which you can plainly see where the damage was, so I would say that the pteryges are accurate as the person tasked with remodelling the missing section of the lower half had one leg and side to work a copy on. Here is the wiki on it-
Quote:Have a look at this link-

It may be a statue of Valentinian I. This view shows the right side of the Statue and you can clearly see that the cuirasse is made of two sections, with some sort of hinge or clasp holding the right side in place. You can also just about see that the shoulder flap does indeed extend over the shouder to end at the shoulder blades.

I'm more inclined to think that is part of the cloak he is wearing?
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