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Spolas (...thorax ek dermatos...)
#1
I have been playing with the idea of trying a leather cuirass that would fall into the "spolas" category -or it might not,who knows really!- and i finally decided to do it. My old "linothorax" was nice but i have learned from its flaws and since then i have studied much more the typology and characteristics of this type of armour in artistic representations. And lets face it,i made it when i was fifteen!

Here i will post photos of different stages of its construction. The spolas is NOT ready yet. I am waiting for bronze scales and rosettes that will go under the rings by Matt Lukes. I also have to complete the decoration of the shoulder guards(epomides) and around the waist,which i have just started.

I didn't manage to find alum tawed leather. What i have is probably veg. tanned,but my suplyer wasn't sure. He was just calling it "rough" and "less treated",but certainly not rawhide. It looks pale enough for me anyway. I used roughly the same tecnique i had used in my old thorax. A solid base on which the second layer of leather is stitched on in four plates. The pteryges is another two layers,backed with wool. I just wanted to add a bit more rigidity that the single layer.
The epomides are consisted of three layers of leather. Three because although that piece of leather was stiffer than the one i used for the body,it was also thinner.
For the stitching i used waxed thread that i presume is linen. I also used strong cotton thread fr some parts because it was thicker. Cotton was known to the greeks and even if cotton fabrics were too expensive and exotic to them,i guess it's ok to use some cotton thread in an expensive spolas. The decoration is of thinner leather.

In this thorax i tried to offer some functional solutions for the typical decoration and which would correspond with representations in art. So the chest and waist bands are one layer of leather. Thos allows for some comfortable flexibility when i bent. The stitching in the borders of the four plates works as a frame which keeps the shape of the cuirass,leaving the most part of it more flexible. It prooved that these theories worked because wearing the final product i am minimally restricted in moving. Certainly bending as much as i want is not a problem.

So it all started like this, with my carton pattern that you always have to make and test thoroughly
[Image: 4734143788_8646bc1f1a.jpg]

The first layer of pteryges in progress. I'm stitching a border that serves both for decoration and for stiffness. Stitched decoration in pteryges is confirmed on the Mars of Todi. This was a very boring part of the construction. Sixteen pteryges for each layer. I had to drill many holes!
[Image: 4733507361_fa3249e4e3.jpg]

First layer finished,second layer half finished.The base of the body is roughly cut. The upper chest protection will be recut in the correct size later,when the second layer will be added.
[Image: 4749367758_5e517778dd.jpg]

And here it is. As you can see the edges have been turned and stitched,while the chest band is one layer of leather. This i made it all in one piece in order to ensure the continuation of the border stitches till the end.
[Image: 4734155356_206dc7a277.jpg]

This is the decoration i chose,typical motif also used in cuirass depitions by different artists.The Brygos painter comes to mind.
[Image: 4734158310_f81cfd1a8e.jpg]

First side plate on. Eventually i will unstitch it in order to put the scales on when they arrive and restitch it.
[Image: 4733729587_78abbdf906.jpg]

Here i'm holding everything in place with my hand. It starts looking promissing!
[Image: 4733934453_b7edac161b.jpg]

Stitching the pteryges on the finished body. I can tell you that it's more difficult than it seems from the photo. Stitching in both directions through four layers of thick leather is a pain! Literally! I have many calluses on my fingers through all this stitching.
[Image: 4736900082_dba7d136fd.jpg]

But at some point it finished!
[Image: 4737348772_f29190a0e8.jpg]

Now on to the second phase. The shoulder piece!
I had already made a pattern before i started adding the second layer. Here how it looks from the back. I replaced that first pattern but the back looks the same. The pteryges too are attached by tape on the inside. Forgive the badly draped chiton.
[Image: 4734152774_1cd5f6b776.jpg]

As i said it consists of three layers of leather. Here they are cut and ready to be stitched.
[Image: 4744396266_24104b0e0f.jpg]
Something importand about the shoulder guards. The slight outward curve,not only of the axin of the guard but of the shape of the guard itself is to be considered. This is why i appreciate the work of Mr Connolly so much,because in his pattern of a linothorax he illustrated this curve,but i had ignored it in my first torax for the sake of convenience. What you achieve with it is that when the guard is pulled in the front, you create the right angle over your shoulder,which carries the weight of the cuirass better. Otherwhise the angle of the armour is about 90 degrees,and the part of your body that carries the whole armour is just a place in either side of your neck. In my old armour i always gain two red lines in either side of the neck, which i though was because the space between the shoulder pieces was too narrow.
Also,when the shoulder guard is pulled on the front,this slght curve gains you some more freedom of movement,since it curves inward.
The practice is attested by this parthenon sulpture.
[Image: 4733501685_07878324ef.jpg]
Anyway,just because the details make the difference.

The finished product,without the decoration, some kind of red stars for the shoulders and something similar for the back.
[Image: 4743760705_0e96fffa87_b.jpg]

And here it is worn!
:mrgreen:
[Image: 4748441313_72b5d7979b.jpg][Image: 4748821621_f23d7eba13.jpg]
The chiton stipe is still in progress. And i didn't really drape it very carefully...
But the epomides stand up!I have used very little glue between the layers,basicly just to make my life easier while i was making the holes and stitching, they are practically not glued together.

[Image: 4748441821_9758ed78c2.jpg][Image: 4748442741_0e3ee33fb3.jpg][Image: 4748443663_c2e3cd1725.jpg]
[Image: 4748445425_9404b9c01f.jpg][Image: 4748444977_a4c58c3b19.jpg][Image: 4748446303_f2910fbb3b.jpg]

Some things you HAVE to be able to do inside your armour without restriction:
[Image: 4748444109_c28c4db727_m.jpg][Image: 4748444539_b06aa3a4d7_m.jpg][Image: 4748447345_c46286d066_m.jpg][Image: 4733510891_3792607ba4_m.jpg]

Raising my arms up is not a serious problem,though it is a bit restricted. I can reach very high if i raise only one arm,since the body is naturally moving a bit to the side,so the armour doesn't restrict you. I can raise both arms up,but of course not as much as unarmoured! The reduced thickness on the decoration pannels make the spolas really comfortable to move in. The neck guard doesn't restrict the movement of my head at all,and it goes under the rear of the corinthian helmet without empeding.

I will update when i receive the scales and rosettes and when i will complete the decoration.
I hope this thread will inspire and help fellow re-enactors who want to make a tube and yoke cuirass on their own.
Khairete
Giannis
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#2
That is lovely to see. If we ever meet I promise to help you to ride in it, and use it hard to make it all dirty Big Grin I suspect you know my views on mineral tanned leather. Vegetable tanned leather is in my Greek lexicon the absolutely correct material to use. Anyway, your pictures have cheered me up. Thanks for posting.
John Conyard

York

A member of Comitatus Late Roman
Reconstruction Group

<a class="postlink" href="http://www.comitatus.net">http://www.comitatus.net
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.historicalinterpretations.net">http://www.historicalinterpretations.net
<a class="postlink" href="http://lateantiquearchaeology.wordpress.com">http://lateantiquearchaeology.wordpress.com
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#3
Thanks John! We have to meet with some horse nearby,because as you see for the moment i'm riding chairs :lol:
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#4
The views of your home are always intriguing. But anyway you don't have far to fall from a Greek horse. Or a Roman one. It is much like a chair. Smile

I am interested to view the international take up of leather tube and yoke armours. They have a lot of catching up to do. Mine is stained and in need of repair but the summer holidays are almost here, allowing me time do to such work. But mine was done in a hurry, while yours shows care and attention. I like it.
John Conyard

York

A member of Comitatus Late Roman
Reconstruction Group

<a class="postlink" href="http://www.comitatus.net">http://www.comitatus.net
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.historicalinterpretations.net">http://www.historicalinterpretations.net
<a class="postlink" href="http://lateantiquearchaeology.wordpress.com">http://lateantiquearchaeology.wordpress.com
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#5
Nice work again Giannis! It would be good to meet up with you guys in Greece one day.
I keep promising myself to start my greek kit, but Roman is yaking up my time and money right now.
It looks great though.
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
[b]Legio XIIII GMV. (Q. Magivs)RMRS Remember Atuatuca! Vengence will be ours!
Titus Flavius Germanus
Batavian Coh I
Byron Angel
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#6
Thanks! You can always make a greek chiton,buy greek sandals(or not) and make it to Marathon in August 2011.Perhaps a felt cap and a sling or a javelin and you're ready for the sides of the phalanx! Though i dare say with all those good quality and cheap greek products that are showing up,you might make it for the ranks in one year.
Khaire
Giannis
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#7
Oh, Giannis,

That's nice!! I can't wait to see it completed. Good photo essay, too!
Cheryl Boeckmann
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#8
Interesting, and a useful guide, If I ever get round to making one I'll use this guide as my first point of call.


Leather over linen though? Is it practical? I suppose since it's a sleeveless piece there isn't any arm restriction but I would have thought in terms of ratio of thickness to weight to defensive capabilities that layered linen would win hands down every time, especially since there are numerous examples of quilted material armours throughout history, and throughout cultures, where as there are very few (if any?) identifiable leather ones.

I would be very interested to see the defensive capabilities of a leather one, versus a linen one of equal thickness against a spear thrust, or an arrow impact.
Stuart
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#9
Fantastic!
As I said on FB, I am now convinced by your spola about the tassets on mine, and know that I have the right leather, I'll make the adjustment.

And I hope you wear it at Marathon!
Qui plus fait, miex vault.
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#10
Very good reconstruction Giannis !!

M.VIB.M.
Bushido wa watashi no shuukyou de gozaru.

Katte Kabuto no O wo shimeyo!

H.J.Vrielink.
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#11
Thanks for the comments everyone!
Christian,i think there is very little chance i won't wear it at Marathon.
About the pteryges,i am sure that there were many different types,and i should mention that about the whole cuirass. In the Parthenon frieze there were at least four cuirasses of this type that are depicted(and some traces of one or two more,but they're hidden behind some horses or are destroyed). All of them have considerable differences with eachother. But i do believe that they were all supposed to be along the same lines.

Stuart,i'm sure with a short search on the work "linothorax" and "spolas" you'll come up with insanely long discussions here in RAT about the matterial used for this type of cuirass. And you'll come up with different opinions too. If you ask me,i believe that these cuirasses were made of linen too.I won't even try to speculate how frequent the one or the other matterial was, but my reconstruction was based on an ancient lexicon that says that "spolas=thorax ek dermatos ephaptomenos eis tous omous", in English, "spolas= cuirass of leather attached to the shoulders" and also Xenophon mentions that a spolas was pierced by a an arrow and killed the spartan that wore it. The arrow had also pierced his shield first,but it was not a common arrow.It was a Karduchian arrow in the size of a small javelin. These things were NOT meant to be impenetrable.

By the way,does anyone know of a way to waterproof the leather without darkenning its white colour?

Khairete
Giannis
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#12
An excellent job, both of the item and the photo essay Giannis ! Big Grin Looks great too !

Let me add my congratulations to everyone elses.....
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#13
Very Nice! Definitely waiting to see the Scales and such!
Craig Bellofatto

Going to college for Massage Therapy. So reading alot of Latin TerminologyWink

It is like a finger pointing to the moon. DON\'T concentrate on the finger or you miss all the heavenly glory before you!-Bruce Lee

Train easy; the fight is hard. Train hard; the fight is easy.- Thai Proverb
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#14
Looks great, congratulations! Love your chiton, too. A lot of us need to replace our laboriously-made linen cuirasses, ooog...

Khaire,

Matthew
Matthew Amt (Quintus)
Legio XX, USA
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.larp.com/legioxx/">http://www.larp.com/legioxx/
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#15
Thanks! However,as i said Matt,i don't believe it is necessary to replace your linen one. But if you think so! After all,i'd love to see your take in it!!! 8) Your linothorax is probably the most recognisable lino in the whole re-enacting comunity!
Khairete
Giannis
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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