Full Version: The Great Tunic Color Debate ... Again.
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What -- it's been at least a week and no debate about Tunic Colors? Well, let's put an end to that right now.

Over on the Roman Army Talk Face Book page the Great Tunic Color debate has been reignited.

I thought this had been put to rest by Graham Sumner and others here in the Forum. Many of you are not users of Face Book, but this might encourage you to weigh in, at least on this topic.

Mattias A. Niord
We believe there is time to rekindle the tunic wars, or rather the tunic discussion. After all, as I enter this realm of re-enactment, I am afraid my Scandinavian viewpoint may be to argue for a prevalence of natural coloured textiles as in undyed textiles. Many people seem to think today that the natural colour of a sheep is white.

But having studied zooarchaeology and old breeds of animals, I would say the common sheep wool colour is something shifting between Brown to grey, some are really black and some white. I would say it is more expensive to get a pure white woollen cloth than a red one, cause you can dye greyish wool and get something passable as red. But white is exclusive because it is not the common natural colour. Hence I would argue against the idea of dressing the army entirely in white. Having a special white tunic for parade, tunica Alba, seems to be supported by the sources, but there would be a very lucrative laundry buisness going on around the roman camps if everyone had white as standard battle dress.

I must add that one must also consider exactly what ancient sources means when they talk about white. It could be anything from bleached linen white too almost pale natural yellow. Hence why the pure white was so highly praised. I am more in favour of an army were you had a white parade uniform and a more practically greyish or brownish colour for field use. In short, if you want something that is cheap and easily obtained, I would say I am a grey man.
Like · · Follow Post · about an hour ago

John Kaler This is a little like asking what color tunics the US Army wore. Without specifying a time period (and perhaps a location) you can't really even begin to have a sensible discussion. It discussing the most commonly reenacted period 1st Century AD the l...See More
about an hour ago · Like

Sheridan Ua Neill Actually you make an old point regarding natural wool colors as part of the argument about tunic colors.

Keep in mind that a linen warp and wool weft will change the color of the tunic, for example a light brown linen and a dark grey wool would loo...See More
about an hour ago · Like

Mattias A. Niord During most history, or at least my textile freak friends tell me, pink was actually not considered as pink but as a shade of red.
about an hour ago · Like

Claire Marshall It is commonly thought of as salmon red... you are right, they certainly aren't pinks by cloth dyeing standards
57 minutes ago via mobile · Like

Marc Lauterbach As far as I'm concerned, Roman reenactors can wear any reasonably-dyed color achievable using period dye techniques. But in the absence of any other evidence and given the preponderance of painted depictions, I'd have to say white/unbleached is the most likely answer.
33 minutes ago · Like

Sheridan Ua Neill To the modern eye a faded madder dyed tunic looks pink.
16 minutes ago · Like


Ok, well I did kind of prompt it when a thread between a Roman reenactor and a Sassanian/Persian got ugly, and I suggested they switch and argue the opposite position from each others sources. I soothed by saying their argument was mild compared to the blood shed in the Great Tunic Debate. Mattias took up and started arguing the madder....matter.
[quote="Narukami" post=343139]

Over on the Roman Army Talk Face Book page the Great Tunic Color debate has been reignited.

Up to now I did not know that such Roman Army talk Facebook page exists!
Quote:Over on the Roman Army Talk Face Book page the Great Tunic Color debate has been reignited.

Up to now I did not know that such Roman Army talk Facebook page exists!
It does exist, with about 475 members.
Do you need a Facebook account to view the page?

Best Regards
I believe you can see it without a FB account.

Here is the link so you can give it a try.


No,unfortunately you must be first accepted as a member before you could see anything-I've just tried my luck and give my request for joining the dark response yet :wink:
I set it up as a closed group just to keep the trolls out. keep the trolls out...
...and those who are simply not FB members, you meant, right?
8+) :-D
Pavel Use the Force :grin: seriously I'm not interested in joining facebook.... however I stopped worrying about the right or wrong color 20 years ago or so when it became clear to me almost any color was possible from natural sources, with Weld, Madder and Woad being the predominate dye stuff, that coupled with lack of evidence for a "Uniform" color basically meant its personal choice or preference, "red" but not necessarily true red or variations of it always seemed an appropriate choice though... its normal for modern people to think in terms of "Uniform" where the military is involved.
Anyone ever tried birch bark it gives a brilliant orange....

Best Regards
Ivor-I got the same impression about colors of roman military clothing in recent years and although I do bealive that red color was probably indeed considered as traditionally connected with military by the romans(and some other ancient societies),it still mainly depends on the personal taste of each individual soldier what colors he dressed himself in rather then on some mandatory uniform regulations in modern sense.
Maybe with exception of some guard units who at least in later era and as is known from "Byzantine" historians had their traditional colors and dresses.

And finally-being on the facebook already for a long time I was accepted to join the group at the end.Now I must hope other members would not view me as a troll soon :evil:
No, I grabbed the name before someone else did so that it would be linked to RAT and not get too confusing. I closed the group to keep spam sales posting to a minimum, keep it to people who actually seem interested. I have turned down requests from young women whose photo attributes would have caused major consternation.
Wow! Modern technology, eh?

Tunic colour in stereo : )