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Tunica material question(s)

I'm looking to make a couple of tunics, one wool and one linen. I'm going off of the info / dimesnions on the Legio XX website as well as Graham Sumner's Roman Military Dress.

My question is regarding material. For the wool tunic I've been looking at melton wool, but I'm not sure what weight to go with. The heavier weight wools seem much harder to find. has a natural white 22oz melton at $22.95/meter (and it's 60" wide!) but the minimum buy is 5 yards - which is a lot of fabric. has a much lighter 8.5oz melton (also in a natural "oatmeal") with no minium purchase (44" wide).

For linen, looking at:

Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated!


Hello Adrian

The weight of a military tunic is given in the papyrus document mentioned in my book.

The depiction of numerous folds in sculptures of tunics would suggest a lightweight wool rather than a heavy. If you are worried about warmth the solution is to wear more tunics which is attested by the sources. Wearing multiple tunics again suggests a light wool material.

Best wishes.

"Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream" Edgar Allan Poe.

"Every brush-stroke is torn from my body" The Rebel, Tony Hancock.

"..I sweated in that damn dirty armor....TWENTY YEARS!', Charlton Heston, The Warlord.

Thanks for your reply! I found the reference in your book (I'm assuming you refered to Papyri, BGUVII 1564, Egypt;early second century AD?) - It's a wonderful book BTW, I just recieved it a few days ago and I'm still reading!

I'm going to go with the off-white melton 8.5 oz, which is a fairly light wool. My impression is later 1st century AD in Egypt (Legio III Cyrenaica), so I would *assume* (perhaps dangerously...) that they would wear a lighter weight tunic in Egypt. I'm 67" tall, and the fabric is 40" wide. That puts it just below my knees. Allegedly melton's not supposed to shrink much, and belted (even with an 1" or so of shrinkage) that should put it comfortably a couple inches above my knee. I could play it safer length wise and go with a 44" wide fabric, but both 44" options are more a light "tan" (heather / oatmeal) than "white" and I'm not sure if that would be correct colorwise. I'm planning to go elbow to elbow for width about 36" wide.



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