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Hoplite Shield Composition
#1
Are there any significant differences between the composition of a hoplon and scutum/later shields? Was there any difference in the level of protection?
Henry O.
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#2
The "Vatican Shield" serves as a "holly cow" that hoplite shields were oak planks covered with bronze - which is only one possibility or more probably the "holy mantra" of reconstruction.

The other possibilities that have been reconstructed are raisin molded saw-dust(!) covered with bronze. Another is wicker-work or thin olive planks covered with bronze or leather.

Our armorer has experimented with linen a 15 layer shield covered bronze.

In Piraeus Museum exists a shield were the bronze bowl is attached on a circular frame and no traces of wood or leather were found on the inside.

So the most correct answer is we do not really know but the possibilities are endless

Kins regards
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#3
Stephanos is right. The question can't be answered until there is more evidence to give a general picture of how these shields were constructed. The Vatican shield is really all we have.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#4
We would also need a reasonably large sample (half a dozen shields of the same type say) to be confident about thickness.

I wonder if there are any good books or articles describing just what we do and don't know about the size and construction of Argive aspides? I glanced over one good article on the weight of the panoply at Marathon about six months ago.
Nullis in verba

I have not checked this forum frequently since 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value. I now have a blog on books, swords, and the curious things humans do with them.
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#5
I just wrote an article for the Ancient Warfare Marathon Special that speaks to this a bit, and there is a lot of information on the aspis on my blog as well. The Bomarzo shield, at the Vatican, and the Basel shield, had poplar and willow cores respectively. These same woods were recommended by Pliny for use in shields because of their resilience.

Unlike Scutii, many aspides seem to have been carved out on a large wood lathe, literally like a giant bowl. Some were constructed of strips of wood set in perpendicular layers like modern plywood in the manner of scutum construction.

The main difference between them is in the grip system, a single, centered handgrip in the Scutum and a double grip system with a central arm-cuff and a handgrip to the right side in the aspis. Although this has been thought to aid in carrying a very heavy aspis, this unlikely because the aspis was probably not on average more that 6-7 kg.

If you are interested in the aspis, you'll want to read Blythe's report on the Bomarzo shield. Contact me if you wish.
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
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#6
It is not at all true that the only shield we have is the vatican shield. Although it is true that it is the most complete one,it is by no means the only one. There have been other fragmental shields found,as Paul mentioned,but there is a number of unpublished ones which bear A LOT of information on different tecniques of construction. One of the most important speciments is the shield B' form Derveni tomb. Parts of the wooden core survived, where even marks of the manufacturer's notes have been found! On that shield there wasn't bronze cover and thus the planks were kept together with small bronze sheet links that were put on the inside of the planks and then were riveted on each side,keeping the planks together. Some other shield fragments show wooden nails stuck in pieces of wood!
The Derveni shield also had some strange carved lines all around the inner surface of the shield,around the area of the biggest angle of the bowl. These lines,according to the archeologist who published it, were serving to cancel the force of the grain of the wood,which is responsible for the eventual bending and twisting!
Between the planks there was also some kind of glue.
None of these features were present in the Vatican shield for a simple reason:the bronze bowl offered sollutions of all the above problems. It cept the planks tightly together and prevented twisting. It is also earlier than the Derveni shield by probably a century or more.
The article is : "Hoplon: the Argolic shield and its technology" by Vasiliki Stamatopoulou. I haven't been able to contact her yet,nor have i been to the Aristoteleion University Library yet,where i can find it. I have only read small parts of it and seen some photos.
Summary of the article here: http://invenio.lib.auth.gr/record/18179
The Vergina shield,the one with the iron porpax and inner attachments had a linen face! Also,parts of leather have been preserved on the inside of the iton porpax!
Khairete
Giannis
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#7
The Vatican shield is the only one that is complete enough from which to make a reasonable replica. The above question cannot be answered until more evidence of other shield manufacturing techniques are known.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#8
On the one hand the Vatican shield is complete enough to know how it was made,but also complete enough to know that it wasn't made in the same way as other shields. For example you cannot dispute that one other shield without a bronze cover had around 60 bronze plate links keeping the planks together. Nor can you dispute the fact that others (at least two that i know of,but maybe three) had linen face(and not leather as has been commonly speculated till now) not even the fact that a published shield from Derveni(not the above mentioned but another one) had painted stucco on its face! I have bought the book where this was published and i have sent it to Matt Lukes.
So yes,as i said,the Vatican shield is the most complete one,but even though i haven't read all the aeticle on the Derveni shield,an Archeologist specialized on weapons,in the Thessaloniki Aristoteleio University told me that a complete reconstruction is possible from the finds. The couple of photos of fragments i have seen (namely the bronze links and the carved lines on the inside of the wooden core) were impressive!
Khaire
Giannis
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#9
Quote:The Vatican shield is the only one that is complete enough from which to make a reasonable replica. The above question cannot be answered until more evidence of other shield manufacturing techniques are known.

We know a bit more than the information from finds. We have a description of the men who made shields for example as "turners of lyres and shields". Obviously you can't turn a scutum on a wood lathe, so this is a pretty big difference right from the start.
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
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#10
OK, I'll bite. Why can't you turn an aspis on a special lathe? Essentially, it's just a big, really big, bowl, isn't it?
(Edited in: Well, duh, I missed the critical word "scutum" somehow. Must've blinked while speed reading?)
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
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#11
You can turn a Greek aspis on a lathe (been there, done that), but I'm pretty sure a Roman scutum can't be turned.
Cheryl Boeckmann
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#12
Wow.Great info on the subject, from everybody. Great points.

I did not know about leather facing being popular idea until recently as Giannis K. Hoplite said. But what exactly destroyed that idea,what proof? and in favour to what material, bronze and linen if I understood well? Thanks
Nikolas Gulan
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