Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Effectiveness of wicker shields?
#1
We know the old enemies of Greeks and Romans, the Persians and their lot, used. rawhide reinforced wicker shields, as well as leather reinforced reed shields.

How effective were they? No, I don't believe that they could be penetrated with a fist.
Real name - Peteris Racinskis
TWC name - any variation of "Roach". Blatta Optima Maxima as of now.
Reply
#2
Wicker shields were common in the eastern half of the Mediterranean world. The only test that I know of is in Godehardt et al.'s article in Barry Molloy ed., The Cutting Edge (Tempus, 2007). It tested the "vertical sticks through a sheet of rawhide" construction which was one of several possibilities. Nicholas Sekunda has suggested that all wicker shields were made this way, based on finds at Dura and the Pazyryk tumuli, but I don't think the artistic evidence supports that hypothesis.
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
Reply
#3
(In other words, all kinds of people used wicker shields, including Greeks, Thracians, various Anatolian peoples, and Scythians; its just not a stereotypical Greek weapon because our sources idealize hoplites over other kinds of soldiers. At one point we hear that a shipload of wicker shields was passing by the Peloponnese during the Archidamian War, and an Athenian commander happily bought them for his sailors to use).
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
Reply
#4
So the fact they were widely used, including by badasses like Assyrians (:razzSmile, testifies to effectiveness?
Real name - Peteris Racinskis
TWC name - any variation of "Roach". Blatta Optima Maxima as of now.
Reply
#5
They were clearly effective in the contexts that they were used. The big, rectangular ones of a single layer of reeds or sticks and a single layer of skin were probably designed to stop arrows. Being big, light, and clumsily gripped, they wouldn't have been very useful in hand to combat except as static barriers, which is how Herodotus seems to describe them being used (although its not certain that his gerra are this kind).

They were also probably cheap compared to wooden shields with bronze fittings. Most Iron Age societies were poorer and less economically equal than Greece, so soldiers had less money to spend on kit.
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
Reply
#6
The Persians and Assyrians clearly engaged in a lot of close combat - I doubt the single layer of reeds theory quite cuts it.
Real name - Peteris Racinskis
TWC name - any variation of "Roach". Blatta Optima Maxima as of now.
Reply
#7
I, and people I know, have used cane shields over a long period time and found them remarkably effective and durable. In fact, more durable than wooden ones, at least against blunt weapons used with considerable enthusiasm. On one occasion to demonstrate how good the one I had was, I stabbed it as hard as I could with a heavy (sharp) knife while it hung on a brick wall. I failed to penetrate it to any significant degree. I think their virtue has much to do with the flexibility - the impact is soaked up and dispersed in the flexing.
Social History and Material Culture of the Enduring Roman Empire.

http://www.levantia.com.au
Reply
#8
So it is concluded - wicker/reed combined with rawhide makes for adequate shields.
Real name - Peteris Racinskis
TWC name - any variation of "Roach". Blatta Optima Maxima as of now.
Reply
#9
You might want to look at Kineas' interpretation of Aspis contruction. It appears that even the traditional Hoplite shield makes use of flexibility.

Chris
Reply
#10
This has absolutely NOTHING to do with the [expletive deleted] topic.
Real name - Peteris Racinskis
TWC name - any variation of "Roach". Blatta Optima Maxima as of now.
Reply
#11
Quote:The Persians and Assyrians clearly engaged in a lot of close combat - I doubt the single layer of reeds theory quite cuts it.
The main problem is that the Achaemenids used all sorts of shields, and nobody has studied them very seriously! Some shields were made from one layer of reeds or sticks thrust through a sheet of rawhide. Examples have been found at Dura Europos and the Pazyryk kurgans, and we see these in Greek and Achaemenid art, but not often. There are also shields made from one or two layers of hide in other cultures. The ones reconstructed by Godehardt et al. were penetrable by arrows but the arrows got stuck in the shields. Other wicker shields appear to be woven like baskets, or made from bundles of reeds like a reed boat. Others are wood or of unclear construction. In other words, there are at least two variables (shield shape and shield construction) and there is not a lot of research on either. Its hard to relate shield types to Greek words, because most texts are vague (everything is an aspis “shield”, a pelte “target”, or a gerron “wicker shield”, sometimes with one adjective attached).

If you can read German, there is a large book by Stefan Bittner on the Achaemenid army based on a PhD thesis. Unfortunately my German is still too limited to read a whole book.
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
Reply
#12
When considering why the gerrhon was so popular and remained in use for so long in much of the Near and Middle East (from at least the late third millennium BC through to the early medieval period, if not later), two factors have to be taken into account. The first is that in the main areas where this type of shield was used, and especially where it originated in Mesopotamia, good sources of wood which could be used to make plank or plywood shields were scarce, but reeds and other such plants were readily available (this is true of Central Asia as well). The second is that in these regions archery was a particularly important element of warfare, and so having a shield that could defend well against arrows was a priority, and by all indications wicker shields did this. Furthermore, armies in the Near and Middle East often had to equip very large armies, and as the wicker shield would have been relatively cheap to produce and easy to construct, it becomes clear why it was as popular as it seems to have been.
Ruben

He had with him the selfsame rifle you see with him now, all mounted in german silver and the name that he\'d give it set with silver wire under the checkpiece in latin: Et In Arcadia Ego. Common enough for a man to name his gun. His is the first and only ever I seen with an inscription from the classics. - Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
Reply
#13
I disagree with that they didn't fight in melee. The Assyrians, for example, used close order heavy infantry.

Even the Achaemenid Persians didn't shy away from a brawl.
Real name - Peteris Racinskis
TWC name - any variation of "Roach". Blatta Optima Maxima as of now.
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Leather-wicker shields Dan D'Silva 8 2,386 04-11-2012, 03:26 AM
Last Post: Dan D'Silva

Forum Jump: