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Reconstructing Ancient Linen Body Armor - New Book
#16
Yes, I've finished it now. I'm at the moment writing a review for another medium, of both this book and Wearing the Cloak together. It's certainly a well-thought-out book and well worth reading. The authors' favoured linen cuirass reconstruction is 10 or more layers of linen laminated with rabbit-skin glue to produce a cuirass about 10-12mm thick. Now Granger-Taylor's article in Wearing the Cloak discusses possible fragments of pteryges from Masada and a greave from Dura, both 5mm thick, produced with composite threads and a characteristic "twining" weaving technique. I can't help wondering how differently Aldrete et al would have gone about their reconstructions if they'd had available the information that you could produce at least half their proposed cuirass thickness in one layer of cloth.

Even discounting that, the Aldrete book is a valuable one. There's a good catalogue of depictions of "Type IV" cuirasses, interesting discussion of variations in style in those depictions, and some quite carefully-described tests of the effectiveness of the reconstructions. I'd recommend it.
cheers,
Duncan
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#17
Quote:I can't help wondering how differently Aldrete et al would have gone about their reconstructions if they'd had available the information that you could produce at least half their proposed cuirass thickness in one layer of cloth.
I'm not sure it is relevant in the case of body armour. We have plenty of examples of textile armour from Europe to India to South America and none of them are made using weaves like that. Textile armour was either made by stuffing the garment like a cushion and then compressing it with quilting or it was made of multiple layers of quilted cloth (sometimes a combination of both). Standalone armour could be anywhere from 15-30 layers while composite armour was lighter. There isn't a single example from any place or time period in which glue was used in the construction.

It would be very useful however, to test the effectiveness of multiple layers of linen compared to a single thick "twined" layer. It would contribute far more to this subject than all the resources that were squandered messing around with glue.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#18
Quote:Yes, I've finished it now. I'm at the moment writing a review for another medium, of both this book and Wearing the Cloak together. It's certainly a well-thought-out book and well worth reading. The authors' favoured linen cuirass reconstruction is 10 or more layers of linen laminated with rabbit-skin glue to produce a cuirass about 10-12mm thick. Now Granger-Taylor's article in Wearing the Cloak discusses possible fragments of pteryges from Masada and a greave from Dura, both 5mm thick, produced with composite threads and a characteristic "twining" weaving technique. I can't help wondering how differently Aldrete et al would have gone about their reconstructions if they'd had available the information that you could produce at least half their proposed cuirass thickness in one layer of cloth.

Even discounting that, the Aldrete book is a valuable one. There's a good catalogue of depictions of "Type IV" cuirasses, interesting discussion of variations in style in those depictions, and some quite carefully-described tests of the effectiveness of the reconstructions. I'd recommend it.
Duncan, I had been reluctant to read their book, because their public statements repeat many of the ideas which were brought up and rebutted in the tube-and-yoke thread here in 2008, but after that review I will have a look.
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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#19
I've had a look at James' entry on the Dura Europos cloth greave and he seems to think that it is a liner for a metal greave, not armour. It is too thin to be useful as armour and the wear pattern supports the conclusion that it is a greave liner.

"Having examined the piece I am convinced that it is a greave liner rather than a defence in its own right; five millimeters of linen would not have been very effective. It makes far better sense as a shock absorber and anti-chafing device worn between the shin and a metal greave like 447. This explanation also accords well with the observed pattern of wear." (p. 129)

Item 447 is the remains of a copper alloy greave.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#20
Quote: It would contribute far more to this subject than all the resources that were squandered messing around with glue.

I see that Dan Howard is always very affirmative when it does not believe in any particular theory. As I read his interesting book "Bronze Age Military Equipment", I could appreciate his "personal" positions on - for example - the shield of Ajax or his approach to the new dates which not much archaeologists in France, for example, attach great importance.
It should be noted that the book "Reconstructing Ancient Linen Body Armor" deals with the classical Greece, that tests were made with glued and not glued linen cuirasses and that on some five years of work, if my memory is good. The results are interesting, it's the least we can say.
'Wearing the cloak' book I've read also and the two discoveries of Masada and Dura Europos relate very later (also the subtitle of the book is "Dressing the Soldier in Roman Times"), namely 1st and 3° centuries of our era. We are very far from the Greek concept of the 5th and 4th centuries.
If it can be hypothesized that cuirasses of lin go back undoubtedly to the Pharaonic Egypt - say, to simplify, across the new Kingdom — there is no difficulty in admitting that various techniques have had to exist in time regarding the composition and constitution - based on the dangerousness of the offensive weapons of the opponent - of these cuirasses of lin.
I don't think so not only could time be lost following the assumption of - for example - an Peter Connolly on the formation of layers of linen glued whose the book in reference allows us to read a very serious study providing results that can be interesting.
I just wanted to say that to deny the theory of something does not say that this thing has been useless when very serious study comes out and seems to demonstrate the contrary... :dizzy:
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#21
Why waste limited resources messing around with a speculative reconstruction that has absolutely no historical support when those resources could have been spent studying real armour?

FWIW textile armour doesn't change. The same designs and construction methods have been used for thousands of years in unrelated cultures all over the world. It would have been more useful to base Greek constructions on a historical precedent rather than make up something that cannot be supported from the available evidence.

Connolly's glued linen theory was based on the assumption that the only way to get the shoulder flaps on a tube and yoke cuirass to "spring up" like in some illustrations was to make them from glue. That is it! There is nothing else behind the idea. It has since been shown that the same effect can be had from quilting and we have extant examples that do just that. The easiest example to access today is kendo armour. Take a look at the layered construction and how the rows of quilting are done. Note also that this construction is as rigid as a board. Aldrete's attempts at making quilted armour had nothing in common with historical armour so the results of any comparison with his glued samples are irrelevant
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#22
While I have not read said book on the linothroax(which probably means this will quickly be refuted), allow me to offer my opinion.

I think that the linothorax idea is a completely modern invention. I was indeed greatly surprised when I actually saw that linen had the capability to stop anything more than a butterfly landing on it; anyone who has handled linen knows it is a very light material. I could understand that it might have some protective properties, but something like the much later gambeson, which was quilted, would in my mind be more protective.

Further, proponents of this linen idea may or may not know that weaving together a dozen to twenty layers of linen is probably as backbreaking as using solid bronze. Sewing on scales alone is NOT fun work. Accordingly, using the linothorax as a mass-producible alternative to bronze might not be such a good idea, even for your armies of workers.

It is my firm belief that a much simpler leather cuirass would be far easier to make and still offer fine protection against all threats. People tend to assign hardened leather to the lower scale of armors, and I resent this; hardened leather is rigid and strong, and not hard to produce by any means(especially if you are a farmer - like most hoplites!) and far lighter than bronze. Add to the leather a layer of scales and I would think you have a perfectly adequate and mass-producible armor for your hordes of soldiers.
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#23
Leather makes good armour - it has been used for millennia.
Linen makes good armour - it has also been used for millennia.
Neither are as good as metal armour.
Previous threads here on RAT have produced enough evidence to be pretty certain that classical Greeks made armour from both linen and leather.
Williams has shown that hardened leather provides less protection than a similar weight of quilted linen. So in order for leather to provide the same degree of protection as layered linen, it has to be heavier than layered linen.
Linen armour is not made by "weaving together" multiple layers. I've already said how it was made in a previous post in this thread. We know this because we have surviving examples dating from the Bronze Age right through to modern day along with documents explaining how they were constructed.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#24
Here are a few descriptions of late medieval linen armours.

Ordinances of Louis XI of France (1461-1483)
And first they must have for the said Jacks, 30, or at least 25 folds of cloth and a stag's skin; those of 30, with the stag's skin, being the best cloth that has been worn and rendered flexible, is best for this purpose, and these Jacks should be made in four quarters. The sleeves should be as strong as the body, with the exception of the leather, and the arm-hole of the sleeve must be large, which arm-hole should be placed near the collar, not on the bone of the shoulder, that it may be broad under the armpit and full under the arm, sufficiently ample and large on the sides below. The collar should be like the rest of the Jack, but not too high behind, to allow room for the sallet. This Jack should be laced in front, and under the opening must be a hanging piece [porte piece] of the same strength as the Jack itself. Thus the Jack will be secure and easy, provided that there be a doublet [pourpoint] without sleeves or collar, of two folds of cloth, that shall be only four fingers broad on the shoulder; to which doublet shall be attached the chausess. Thus shall the wearer float, as it were, within his jack and be at his ease; for never have been seen half a dozen men killed by stabs or arrow wounds in such Jacks, particularly if they be troops accustomed to fighting.

Dominic Mancini (1483): writing about the archers in Richard III's army
They do not wear any metal armour on their breast nor any other part of their body, except for the better sort who have breastplates and suits of armour. Indeed, the common soldiery have more comfortable doublets that reach down below the loins and are stuffed with tow or some other material. They say that the softer the garment the better do they withstand the blows of arrows and swords, and besides that in summer they are lighter and in the winter they are more serviceable than iron.

Howard Household Accounts (mid 1400s):
I took to the doublet maker, to make me a doublet of fence; for every four quarters: 18 folds thick of white fustian, and 4 folds of linen cloth, and a fold of black fustian to put without.

There are also surviving examples made as described above:
Two of them are in the Holstentor Museum in Lübeck
A partial example is in a museum in Stendal - the chest section is still intact.
One is in the Musée des beaux-arts in Chartres
One is in the parish church of Rothwell, near Leeds

Aldrete should have examined at least some of these before attempting a reconstruction.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#25
Two South American examples:

The armour which they use in war are certain loose garments like doublets made of quilted cotton, a finger and a half thick, and sometimes two fingers; they are very strong. Over them they wear a doublet and hose all one garment, which are corded behind. This garment is made of thick cloth and is covered with a layer of feathers of different colours, making a fine effect… for neither arrows nor darts pierce them, but are thrown back without making any wound, and even with swords it is difficult to penetrate through them.
-- Companion of Hernan Cortez

Out of sacking or light linen cloths they make a kind of surcoat that they call 'escaupil'. These fall below the knee, and sometimes to the calf. They are all stuffed with cotton, to the thickness of three fingers. The layers of cotton are quilted between folds of linen and sewed with rough thread…
-- Aguado, History of Venezuela

More:

There is a partial example of Greek linen armour that was found at Patras dating to the end of the Bronze Age. It hasn't been published yet but IIRC preliminary examination shows it to be made of 10-15 layers of linen.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has an 18th century cuirass from India (called a peti) made from multiple layers of quilted cotton and covered in green velvet. It is almost an inch thick. The Royal Armouries has another example from the arsenal of Tipu Sultan.

The Irish "Cattle Raid of Cooley" says that Cúchulainn was wearing armour made of 27 layers of linen and an apron made from the hide of yearling oxen.

I can't find even a hint of glue anywhere. We have over three thousand years of evidence telling us that textile armour was quilted.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#26
Dan,
In the "Ordinances of Louis XI" where it says: "...the best cloth that has been worn and rendered flexible being the best for this purpose..." do you think it means that these inner layers might be made of old or even discarded clothing? If so, that would have lowered the cost of the armor considerably.
Pecunia non olet
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#27
Quote:In the "Ordinances of Louis XI" where it says: "...the best cloth that has been worn and rendered flexible being the best for this purpose..." do you think it means that these inner layers might be made of old or even discarded clothing?
Yep. There are other documents saying that old cloth is preferred.

Regulations made by the Armourers of London. 15 Edward 11. A.D. 1322. Letter-Book E. fol. cxxxiii.
That an aketon and a gambeson covered with sendale, or with cloth of silk, shall be stuffed with new cotton cloth, and with cadaz, and with old sendales, and in no other manner. And that white aketons shall be stuffed with old woven cloth, and with cotton, and made of new woven cloth within and without.
("Sendale" or "cendal" is a light, gauzy silk)

Another says that "veteran" cloth must be used.

Quote:If so, that would have lowered the cost of the armor considerably.
Yep. The trend seems to be to use old cloth on the inside layers and new, high quality cloth as the innermost and outermost layer. Some have an outermost layer of fine leather.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#28
I enjoy Roman Army Talk. I enjoy the open minded discussion. I enjoy the sense of fun, education and discovery.
I am reading this book. I am enjoying it too. I enjoyed previous threads on linen armour and discussion on words such as spolas etc. I enjoy owning both leather and linen T&Y/ Type iv armours. I enjoy the fact that other owners of such corselets are happy to read this thread but make no comment.

Joyeusse Garde Big Grin
Richard Robinson
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#29
I have now read the book, and recommend that people interested in ancient armour read it. It is clearly written, modest, and describes a lot of laborious and thoughtful experiments. There are valuable sections on the decoration of tube-and-yoke armour, on the manufacture of linen in the ancient world, and on the likely relative price of leather and linen armour. They did make some tests with quilted linen, stuffed linen, and bronze plate, but their emphasis was on demonstrating the feasability of their favourite construction rather than on comparing it with alternatives; they could also have done more to link the tube-and-yoke typology in art with “thorakes linou” in texts.

They managed to obtain bronze sheet of the right thickness and a reasonable alloy, and I understand how difficult that was, but they said it was annealed (softened by being heated and allowed to cool). Blyth found that most helmets after 520 BCE were quite hard, although he speculated that breastplates were usually softer. The performance of their bronze plate was closer to Blyth's “low count” estimate than Williams' “high count” estimate.

I agree that they have demonstrated that glued linen armour would have been economically and technically feasible in the ancient Mediterranean. Unfortunately, they still don't seem to have any evidence that any ancient culture did make such armour, and that concerns me. Modern people often solve problems differently than preindustrial people did, or they overlook difficulties which were important to the ancients. They cite two articles as evidence for glued linen armour, but you can read them for yourselves; they repeat the theory that theatre masks were made from glued linen, but I don't see anything about glue in the text which they cite (Suda s.v. Thespis, Adler no. Theta,282). The book is still useful whether or not you find their argument for glued linen armour convincing.
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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#30
Quote:They managed to obtain bronze sheet of the right thickness and a reasonable alloy, and I understand how difficult that was, but they said it was annealed (softened by being heated and allowed to cool).
Most bronzes are annealed by heating and quenching, not heating and cooling slowly.

Thanks for translating those passages Sean. I couldn't get access to the journals.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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