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Gambesons in roman times?
#1
I come yet again with a question as - once again - I am not really that well versed in roman or antique armour as I'd wish to be. The question regards gambesons. Now before I continue I will specify that what I say when I mean a gambeson is a specifically quilted garment, as that's what it means in period sources. I don't mean unquilted textile armour

Now all of that being said, I know there's enough evidence to indicate the use of quilted textile armour in the middle east and Africa since the age of antiquity, however this does not seem to have been common outside of these areas. I know for example that in medieval Europe, the use of gambesons didn't appear before around the 12th century or so

However, as said earlier, I'm not nearly as knowledgeable on roman armour. My question is then if we have any evidence of gambesons being in use by the Romans (or the Greeks for that matter) at all.
[Image: 7332282.jpg?170]

I know of this depiction of Mars, but the question is if it depicts armour that would have been widespread in use or the opposite - armour that was exotic. I will kindly ask you to keep to sources however, I am rather tired of hearing 'common sense' arguments. If you're got sources that describe the use of gambesons in roman times, I'd love to hear them.
"No, vikings didn't wear any goddamn gambesons" - Me, explaining the same thing for the hundredth time

- Ali Zufer
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#2
All textile armour was quilted. We have around three thousand years worth of examples and they are all constructed in a similar fashion.

Regarding Greeks and Romans wearing it, the evidence is pretty sparse.

The earliest instance is the Iliad and it is supported by a Late Bronze Age find of linen armour at Patras.

Alexander wore at least three different armours on his Persian campaign and one of them was a linen cuirass (part of the booty taken at Issus).

Your above image of Mars can be interpreted a dozen different ways. One of those interpretations is a quilted gambeson but it isn't the most likely interpretation IMO. Don't forget that these things were painted and we don't know how much detail was painted on and is now lost to us.

The term "gambeson" isn't the best one to use because it generally is only used to describe a specific style of textile armour. There were other styles including the "jack" and "jupon". Best to stick to something generic such as "textile corselet".

Edit: this thread is well worth reading
https://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/showth...?tid=22196
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#3
There are numerous sculptural depictions of Roman soldiers wearing or owning what appear to be padded or quilted body armour of various sorts. Despite the usual cautions about trusting artistic images or misreading them, I think it's pretty safe to say that this kind of armour was used to some extent.

We don't know what it was called - but we don't know what the Romans actually called 'lorica segmentata' either...

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[Image: centurio-sora.jpg]

[Image: relief10.jpg]

[Image: DSCN0225.jpg]

[Image: 27828-4.jpg]
Nathan Ross
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#4
None of those show textile armour. They could be showing anything. The sculptor only carved the basics and painted all the detail on top. Proper evidence requires textual references or physical remains.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#5
(04-29-2019, 11:04 PM)Dan Howard Wrote: All textile armour was quilted. We have around three thousand years worth of examples and they are all constructed in a similar fashion.

Regarding Greeks and Romans wearing it, the evidence is pretty sparse.

The earliest instance is the Iliad and it is supported by a Late Bronze Age find of linen armour at Patras.

Alexander wore at least three different armours on his Persian campaign and one of them was a linen cuirass (part of the booty taken at Issus).

Your above image of Mars can be interpreted a dozen different ways. One of those interpretations is a quilted gambeson but it isn't the most likely interpretation IMO. Don't forget that these things were painted and we don't know how much detail was painted on and is now lost to us.

The term "gambeson" isn't the best one to use because it generally is only used to describe a specific style of textile armour. There were other styles including the "jack" and "jupon". Best to stick to something generic such as "textile corselet".

Edit: this thread is well worth reading
https://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/showth...?tid=22196

Claiming that all textile armour would have been quilted is a bold claim, and I don't necessarily agree with that. Some of the early middle age European sources can just as easily be interpreted as unquilted textile armour.

Regarding the term, a 'gambeson' historically refers to a quilted corselet. It doesn't refer to any specific style of corselet and the 'jack' is simply a later term for the same thing, as is the 'pourpoint', and they were even called doublets in some sources. Referring to a quilted textile garment as a gambeson is not wrong, but of course you can use another word to specify which type of garment it is. 

'Jupon' is not a term for a quilted garment, it's a word for a kind of jacket or overcoat that would be worn over armour in the late 14th century. They could be quilted but they could also be unquilted, and there's examples of both.
"No, vikings didn't wear any goddamn gambesons" - Me, explaining the same thing for the hundredth time

- Ali Zufer
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#6
Quote:Claiming that all textile armour would have been quilted is a bold claim, and I don't necessarily agree with that. Some of the early middle age European sources can just as easily be interpreted as unquilted textile armour.
All you have to do is produce a single extant example that isn't quilted. There are dozens to choose from.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#7
(04-30-2019, 01:48 AM)Dan Howard Wrote: None of those show textile armour. They could be showing anything. The sculptor only carved the basics and painted all the detail on top.

What sort of detail do you think might have been painted onto these to make them look different? They are clearly body armour, they do not resemble mail or scale or any other known armour type, which sculptors were quite capable of showing. They do appear to feature large padded or quilted sections. What else might they be?
Nathan Ross
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#8
(04-30-2019, 10:03 AM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(04-30-2019, 01:48 AM)Dan Howard Wrote: None of those show textile armour. They could be showing anything. The sculptor only carved the basics and painted all the detail on top.

What sort of detail do you think might have been painted onto these to make them look different? They are clearly body armour, they do not resemble mail or scale or any other known armour type, which sculptors were quite capable of showing. They do appear to feature large padded or quilted sections. What else might they be?

Quite right, Nathan. That sort of dogmatic assertion is valueless.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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#9
(04-30-2019, 09:55 AM)Dan Howard Wrote:
Quote:Claiming that all textile armour would have been quilted is a bold claim, and I don't necessarily agree with that. Some of the early middle age European sources can just as easily be interpreted as unquilted textile armour.
All you have to do is produce a single extant example that isn't quilted. There are dozens to choose from.

Extant finds are not the only sources and if we only kept to extant finds we'd have very little to show for in terms of knowledge about armour. Artistic depictions and written mentions serve as well, and there's written mentions of textile armour in the early middle ages that can easily be interpreted as being unquilted.
"No, vikings didn't wear any goddamn gambesons" - Me, explaining the same thing for the hundredth time

- Ali Zufer
Reply
#10
Quote:Extant finds are not the only sources and if we only kept to extant finds we'd have very little to show for in terms of knowledge about armour. Artistic depictions and written mentions serve as well

Artistic depictions are useless because they can never be interpreted in only one way. If you show some armour to a class full of people and ask them to draw it, every single person will render it differently. If you don't have the original item, how do you know which, if any, are depicted accurately?

Quote:and there's written mentions of textile armour in the early middle ages that can easily be interpreted as being unquilted.

Produce one.


Quote:What sort of detail do you think might have been painted onto these to make them look different? They are clearly body armour, they do not resemble mail or scale or any other known armour type, which sculptors were quite capable of showing. They do appear to feature large padded or quilted sections. What else might they be?

The first two of your images are likely depicting scale armour with pteruges. The vertical lines were carved and the details of the individual scales were painted. The one with the diamond crosshatching is likely depicting mail. We have hundreds of medieval images that render mail with crosshatching and not a single extant textile example that is made with diamond crosshatch quilting. Why would you think it is textile armour when there is no precedent for it?
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#11
(04-30-2019, 11:38 AM)Dan Howard Wrote:
Quote:and there's written mentions of textile armour in the early middle ages that can easily be interpreted as being unquilted.

Produce one.

The same one I mentioned on the MyArmoury forums, Tain Bo Cuailgne. Nothing there suggest quilting and it's specified as being 'tied' close to the body. Wouldn't have to be tied of it was quilted
"No, vikings didn't wear any goddamn gambesons" - Me, explaining the same thing for the hundredth time

- Ali Zufer
Reply
#12
(04-30-2019, 11:38 AM)Dan Howard Wrote: The first two of your images are likely depicting scale armour with pteruges. The vertical lines were carved and the details of the individual scales were painted. The one with the diamond crosshatching is likely depicting mail..

Scale armour did not form vertical columns like that. If they were painting scales onto it anyway, why first go to the trouble of carving those vertical bands into the stone?

The relief with the two armoured legionaries shows the lefthand man wearing what is surely mail (incised 'dots'). The righthand soldier is wearing something different - what else would create diagonal bands like that?

The diamond-patterned cuirass on the Spilt sarcophagus shows a 'dot' at the centre of each diamond. The sculptor is obviously able to represent all sorts of patterns and textures - if he wanted to show scales or mail he would have done so.

We have plenty of depictions of mail armour, scale, segmented armour and no armour at all. These images are showing something different. We may not know exactly what they are intended to represent (and they surely don't all show the same thing), but that does not mean that the pictures are 'wrong' or the intended objects did not exist.


(04-30-2019, 11:38 AM)Dan Howard Wrote: Why would you think it is textile armour when there is no precedent for it?

What else would it be? We know that textile armour existed in the Roman world - (Seutonius Galba 19: "He did however put on a linen cuirass, though he openly declared that it would afford little protection against so many swords" Loricam tamen induit linteam, quanquam haud dissimulans parum adversum tot mucrones profuturam) - we just don't know what it looked like or how often it was used. Suggesting that these artistic depictions might represent something like that does not seem at all far-fetched.


(04-30-2019, 11:38 AM)Dan Howard Wrote: Artistic depictions are useless because they can never be interpreted in only one way.

Everything can be interpreted in more than one way.

Look at the archaeological finds misdated (or redated) by hundreds of years. Look at the helmets 'reconstructed' to look like all kinds of bizarre things, the vaunting hypotheses built on tiny fragments of fabric of leather. Archaeological evidence is as open to interpretation and misinterpretation as anything else.

The truth is we do not know a great deal about the Roman army, or any other ancient army. What we do know - or think we know - is a compendium of interpretations based on cross-referencing various types of evidence: archaeological, literary and artistic. Accepting only one of those types and rejecting the others is liable to lead to a very partial view indeed.
Nathan Ross
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#13
Quote:The same one I mentioned on the MyArmoury forums, Tain Bo Cuailgne. Nothing there suggest quilting and it's specified as being 'tied' close to the body. Wouldn't have to be tied of it was quilted

So you think he was wearing 27 separate tunics? Try it and you'll see how ridiculous this is.

1. It is impossible to wear 27 tunics.
2. the original verb can be translated as "tied" or "stitched" or "laced" or "quilted".
3. the noun cneslenti (linen garment) is singular. If he was wearing 27 of them, the word would take the plural.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#14
(04-30-2019, 01:00 PM)Dan Howard Wrote: So you think he was wearing 27 separate tunics? Try doing this yourself and you'll see how ridiculous this is.
 
I'm just observing that in no way is what he's wearing described to be quilted. Once again, it is tied tightly, taking the role of the quilting. I am confident you'd be able to wear 27 thin tunics if you tied them
"No, vikings didn't wear any goddamn gambesons" - Me, explaining the same thing for the hundredth time

- Ali Zufer
Reply
#15
Quote:I'm just observing that in no way is what he's wearing described to be quilted. Once again, it is tied tightly, taking the role of the quilting. I am confident you'd be able to wear 27 thin tunics if you tied them

The verb doesn't simply mean "tied". It can also mean "laced" or "stitched" or "quilted". You can't rely on translations for this kind of research.



Quote:The diamond-patterned cuirass on the Spilt sarcophagus shows a 'dot' at the centre of each diamond. The sculptor is obviously able to represent all sorts of patterns and textures - if he wanted to show scales or mail he would have done so.
The dots in the middle make it even LESS likely that it is quilted textiles. Mail is most likely interpretation because it is the only one for which we have a precedent.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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