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Thanks Sait - a laudes for you!
Quote:Ioannis,
I'd like to post a question. Do we have much evidence for the paramerion? I am aware of the literary sources, the illuminated manuscript depicting Nikephoros Phokas and a steatite with what looks like a paramerion. Has anyone studied this in great detail?

Ooops, apologies for returning to the original question in this thread but I've onlyy recently stumbled upon this section :oops:

I've recently joined Timothy Dawsons Palace Company here in the UK, after years of slumming it as a 5th century Germanic :wink:
Timothy will hopefully soon be adding a short vid on Youtube via a link on the Palace Company web site, showing him using techniques with a Paramerion on me, a lowly Balkan Slav during a gig at Rufford park in July 2007Big Grin

Should be interesting to see as I think he was actually using two swords at one point. Unfortunately I cannot give you any more details than that. The vid may have been up sooner but Chris wanted to do a voice over by Timothy which will take time to sort out.

Will keep you all posted when it is near completion.

Cheers
Kuura,
Many Thanks. I am well aquainted with the good Doctor. Send him my regards. Tim introduced me to this 12th C Byzantine sgrafitto plate of Digenis Akritas and he is represented with a paramerion and a dagger..
Quote:Some photos of Marmaray Project excavations in Istanbul, from ArkeoAtlas magazine.
These are remains of two ships (nicknamed Yenikapi II and Yenikapi IV), believed by the experts to have been the galea type oared vessels, used for military purpose. Their original length was at least 25 metres. Dated 10 c. AD.

Thanks for the info Sait! Istanbul must be saturated with ancient relics!! Tongue I must make the effort to get there one day!
Quote:Kuura,
Many Thanks. I am well aquainted with the good Doctor. Send him my regards. Tim introduced me to this 12th C Byzantine sgrafitto plate of Digenis Akritas and he is represented with a paramerion and a dagger..


Thanks for the image Peter, I will pass on your regards to Timothy.

I think that plate formed the basis of his display using two swords, and I have to say he was quite handy at using them, normally bods using two weapons are easy prey to a foe equipped with a sword and shield.
I liked the good Doctor's book on the infantry and I wrote a favorable critic,
although I have some reservations on his interpretation of the drill commands. I hope he attempts to tackle the cavalry subject too.

Kind regards
Hello,

My fist post, here goes.

The description of the menavlion emphasises that the haft is strong and as thick as possible provided it can be grasped with ease. As the weapon is relatively short there can be only one reasonable conclusion from this - that the strength of the haft is primarily to withstand lateral forces. A spear or lance shaft is mostly subjected to compressive forces and does not need to be particularly thick to be effective. The menavlion therfore must have a cutting as well as thrusting method of use.

As has been said a large and broad-bladed "boarspear" like weapon would fit the descriptions and the tactical role of the menavlatoi, as would a glaive-like weapon. Haldon's (Byzantine State, Warfare and Society?)suggestion that it was both "a pike" and similar to a Roman pilum appear to me to be very wide of the mark.
Quote:Hello,

My fist post, here goes.

Hi Martin,

Welcome, but please enter your real name into your signature. It´s a forum rule.
Sorry, I thought I had done, I certainly put my name somewhere. :?

I'd like to address some of the other themes of the discussion.

Most of the contemporary images of Byzantine soldiery depict military saints and this has some distorting influence. Saints are normally depicted bareheaded so helmets are rarely shown. It is also probable that, as the artists were undoubtedly aware that the saints had lived many years in the past, archaisms were deliberately introduced. In the later period, (post 1250) this led to artistic invention and an apparent desire to depict saints in pseudo antique (classical) armour. In the 11th and 12th centuries I think that most of what was depicted was an accurate rendition of contemporary equipment, but that artists tended to choose those aspects of contemporary armour that gave an impression of antiquity. Therefore simple depictions of elbow/mid thigh length mail shirts, which undoubtedly were fairly common, were largely eschewed in favour of the klibanion, which had the same outline as an antique muscle-cuirass, and the sleeves and skirt of a quilted undergarment (or spint/lamellar armour) showing, giving the impression of pteruges. The result would therefore look like the armour of a senior Roman officer of the distant past.

Some of these illustrations certainly show elaborate upper arm defences consisting of splint or lamellar rerebraces and a plate shoulder-cop or pauldron. Interestingly archaeological remains of a Khazar burial of the 8th century contained such a plate pauldron, plus plate greaves. Byzantium and the Khazar Khaganate maintained close relations, the Byzantines built the main Khazar fortified cities and one emperor had a Khazar mother. Though some apparent 'pteruges' below the waist are probably the skirt of a quilted garment others appear to be of splint construction, possibly attached directly to the quilting, a few images show lamellar skirts. Another type of lower body/thigh defence is quite interesting. The lower edge shows that the garment is relatively thin, ie not quilted, and arranged in very crisp pleats. The front of the pleats is shown with a definite structure and appearance of solidity. What appears to be shown is a pleated garment like a kilt the outer faces of which have attached metal splints running vertically from top to bottom. Such a protection would allow movement due to the pleats in its fabric (leather or a woven material) with the metal splints affording protection. This would afford a better defence against cuts than against thrusts, but it would be at least as useful as mail.

The images of saints were primarily for devotional purposes so a visible face would be a necessity, but there seems to be a distinct reluctance to show face-covering armour in any Byzantine art (except for some late-period illustrations). Face-covering mail is described in texts (such as Leo's military treatise) and is referred to, in passing, elsewhere. The same lack of depiction in Byzantine illustrations also applies to nasals. These are relatively common in archaeological contexts from the North Pontic Steppe area, and are not unknown in Kievan Rus contexts. Both areas were in close contact with Byzantium and some of the helmets might even have been of Byzantine manufacture, though evidence for this is not likely to be forthcoming (though metallurgical investigation might yield clues).

With reference to Alexius I in the Alexiad pushing the mail from his face I was very impressed with the illustration shown by Egfaroth. I had puzzled about how a face-covering mail aventail could be moved off the face , but a simple stud or hook above the brow of the helmet at the front would be all that would be needed. I think the interpretation of the figures with the bunched and folded mail at the brow of the helmets as showing such face-covering mail aventails hooked up must be correct.

A number of incomplete anthropomorphic face masks were discovered on the site of the Great Palace in Istanbul, with an associated coin of Manuel II. Interestingly in Kinnamos (Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus) Manuel is described as wearing a helmet with face protection which may refer to this sort of face-mask (similar to the Kipchak - Kara-Kalpac masks discussed earlier).
"Archaising" artwork is certainly acknowledged as a characteristic of Byzantine art, particularly so as you get closer to the City. However, I think we need to be rather careful ascribing motives to our forebears (well, three of them, anyway Wink ). What you postulate about the mindset behind "archaised" armour may well be true, but there is no way of knowing for sure if it really was the case. And anyway, the motives are unimportant - it's the fact that's important.

Certainly the other points you raised in support of your thesis - the apparent contradiction between on the one hand what is found in contemporary descriptions of Byzantine armour and equipment and in the archaeological record, and on the other hand what is shown in the pictorial sources, has to make us cautious about accepting contemporary illustrations as gospel.

One such I do believe to be pretty close to the truth, even in the matter of helmets, is the Skylitzes Chronicle of Madrid. Some academics claim to be able to see the hands of something like half a dozen different artists in this. To my chagrin, I can see only three styles different enough for me to say - "yes, that's a different bloke".

The one I am fairly willing to trust is the one you refer to above, who did the pics of the guys with the (face-covering?) (mail curtains?). Why? I dunno. Perhaps the level of detail, perhaps the amount of variation between the individual figures in his pictures (for example, he shows at least four different kinds of helmet in a single scene), perhaps he just impresses me as an artist. Not a very rational basis for a decision, I grant you, but there you are.

Unfortunately we have very little to work with, and out theories regarding some of the more esoteric bits of equipment will always remain just that - theories (assuming, of course some archaeologist doesn't stumble tomorrow upon a huge 11th century Byzantine arsenal - sigh).

BTW, one other source I regard as probably being pretty damned close to the truth (because it was well away from the acknowledged archaising influence of Constantinople) is the rock paintings of the Go"reme Valley in Kappadokia. I don't know if you've already seen it, but you might be interested in the frescoes of the so-called "Dovecote" church at Cavus,in.No helmets, though.
Great site Egfroth, especially liked the images from the 'Hidden Church', full of interesting detail Big Grin
They certainly are. I regard that trip to Constantinople and Kappadokia as one of the high points of my life. Unfortunately, the Buckle church was closed when I was there (renovations, I think), but it was the Dovecote Church I was really interested in.

In fact we went to Kappadokia specifically and only to see that church. But once there, I found so much else of interest. The town of Avanos, for example, which has been making pottery for so long that the roads in and out of the town are paved wih broken pottery. The underground cities and the honeycombed mountain of Uc,hisar. Amazing place.

I once played with drawing reconstructions of each of the figures in the church to compare and contrast the gear they had on.

But I never got around to it - it would have been too much work, and other things were more important at the time.
Quote:"Archaising" artwork is certainly acknowledged as a characteristic of Byzantine art, particularly so as you get closer to the City. However, I think we need to be rather careful ascribing motives to our forebears (well, three of them, anyway Wink ). What you postulate about the mindset behind "archaised" armour may well be true, but there is no way of knowing for sure if it really was the case. And anyway, the motives are unimportant - it's the fact that's important.

Certainly the other points you raised in support of your thesis - the apparent contradiction between on the one hand what is found in contemporary descriptions of Byzantine armour and equipment and in the archaeological record, and on the other hand what is shown in the pictorial sources, has to make us cautious about accepting contemporary illustrations as gospel.

One such I do believe to be pretty close to the truth, even in the matter of helmets, is the Skylitzes Chronicle of Madrid. Some academics claim to be able to see the hands of something like half a dozen different artists in this. To my chagrin, I can see only three styles different enough for me to say - "yes, that's a different bloke".

The one I am fairly willing to trust is the one you refer to above, who did the pics of the guys with the (face-covering?) (mail curtains?). Why? I dunno. Perhaps the level of detail, perhaps the amount of variation between the individual figures in his pictures (for example, he shows at least four different kinds of helmet in a single scene), perhaps he just impresses me as an artist. Not a very rational basis for a decision, I grant you, but there you are.

Unfortunately we have very little to work with, and out theories regarding some of the more esoteric bits of equipment will always remain just that - theories (assuming, of course some archaeologist doesn't stumble tomorrow upon a huge 11th century Byzantine arsenal - sigh).

BTW, one other source I regard as probably being pretty damned close to the truth (because it was well away from the acknowledged archaising influence of Constantinople) is the rock paintings of the Go"reme Valley in Kappadokia. I don't know if you've already seen it, but you might be interested in the frescoes of the so-called "Dovecote" church at Cavus,in.No helmets, though.


I come from a scientific rather than historical background and I suspect that, because of this, I am quite comfortable in proposing theories concerning the behaviour of people in the past which cannot be proven in any concrete manner.

With the various references in literature, and the face masks from the Great Palace, there seems to be no reasonable doubt that the Byzantines did, to an unknowable extent, employ armour that gave protection to the face. I wonder if the lack of pictorial depiction isn't connected with the central position of the ikon in Orthodox devotion. That the artist was so steeped in the ideal of a connection between the viewer and the depicted human figure that covering the face of an image, even a secular one, was just unnatural.

The "Dovecote" church images are very interesting, particularly the use of, probable, hardened leather scale over mail. The oval abdominal feature reminded me of the difference between classical muscle cuirasses made for infantry and cavalry use. The former extended down over the lower abdomen wheras the latter had a squared off lower margin, which would have increased comfort when mounted. I suspect that the extent of 'mix-and-match' in Byzantine armour use was quite extensive, with articles being discarded or added depending on the nature of combat. The oval feature could possibly be a reinforce for the lower abdomen used when fighting on foot.

A couple of images which I've noticed some interesting features include the "Anastasius Triumph" ivory.
see: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image ... _whole.jpg

The soldier carrying the victory on the left appears to have solid shoulder cops on his armour.

In Oman's first volume of his work on Medieval warfare, there are number of illustrations of from a Byzantine work of 1066. One shows a soldier on foot wearing unmistakable mail chausses, though worn with typical Byzantine boots.
There was a program on TV 2 nights ago which showed the ancient harbour being excavated in the maramaras tunnel project, and the preservation vats for the ships timbers. The time to do just one ship is phenomenal, and they have how ever many to do?
I saw a few of the artifacts being dug up, including some sort of pointed oil lamp type thing with a cross on it...not a good description,I know, but it was totally intact....

I hope they will be given enough time to do the complete excavations.... The show certainly made it sound as though work was halted until it was, any way. :roll:
At Christian's excellent suggestion, I split off all posts discussing history and science from this thread and moved them to the Off Topic section. If there still is a discussion necessary, we'll continue it there.
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