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Caligae Construction
#1
Avete omnes,

I posted this question in the Archaeology section as well but just to increase my chances of getting replies, I thought I'd post it here too. Does anyone know of the actual archaeological basis for believing that Legionary caligae were constructed by stitching across the back of the heel and up the back of the ankle/ lower leg section? It strikes me as a design with an inherent weakness at a point where there's a great deal of stress on the sandal. Are there actually artifacts that show these seams? The few images I've found don't show this area sufficiently to really tell.

Also, I've noticed that the artifacts all have quite thin straps- quite a contrast to the rather wide ones that most recreation caligae seem to have- does anyone know why? Is everyone just following an old incorrect design not realizing that it's wrong, or is there actually evidence that there were caligae with wider straps? One phenomenal artifact has straps that are barely 3-3.5mm wide, and given the size of other elements of the sandal, I strongly doubt that it's a case of leather shrinkage over time.

To me it actually makes sense that the straps would be thin- the less material there is to rub on the foot on a long march, the less the chance of blisters. Also in very hot climates where sandals (as opposed to shoes) are worn, the straps are usually very minimal, so why would caligae be any different? Really the sole is the important part, and the straps are simply there to hold the sole to the foot- they needn't be any more substantial than is necessary to accomplish this task, yes?

I'd really love to hear of any actual evidence for either side of the question that anyone has Big Grin

Magna gratias.

Valete!

Matt
See FABRICA ROMANORVM Recreations in the Marketplace for custom helmets, armour, swords and more!
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#2
Hi Matt,

I think you made some very good and valid observations there. It is pretty much the same I wrote in an earlier thread, see

http://www.romanarmy.com/rat/viewtopic. ... ght=#49432

There is no exact depiction/clear description that I know of of how the heel and the sole were joined at the back. There are however drawings & descriptions of how the back seem was closed, normally

"the back seam is double stitched with an extremely fine edge/grain [double or sadler's stitch (my insert)] on the outside, raising a ridge along the join and a more widely spaced edge/flesh overstitch on the inside" (van Driel-Murray, Footwear in the NW-Provinces ... see below)

Also check the "Calligae" thread for a pic:

http://www.romanarmy.com/rat/viewtopic. ... highlight=

I'm also making a pair based on the Valkenburg/Castleford based pattern van Driel-Murray presented in her article cited above and will provide some more detailed pics on this soon.

Quote:Also, I've noticed that the artifacts all have quite thin straps- quite a contrast to the rather wide ones that most recreation caligae seem to have- does anyone know why? Is everyone just following an old incorrect design not realizing that it's wrong, or is there actually evidence that there were caligae with wider straps? One phenomenal artifact has straps that are barely 3-3.5mm wide, and given the size of other elements of the sandal, I strongly doubt that it's a case of leather shrinkage over time.

Ha, my pet peeve! :-) -) ) Yes, this is IMHO a prime example of how copying from the copy of a copy of a copy (insert many more copies) eventually leads to people believing that that is/was the real thing.

I know of only one example for broader straps, and that is from a depiction in non-military context from the Negotiator stele from Neumagen (2nd half 2nd cent.) and only ankle-high. It is therefore from a period where it is believed by van Driel-Murray that the military use of the caligae was over.

Here is a book list helpful with this topic

Das Ostkastell von Welzheim, Rems-Murr-Kreis. Die römischen Lederfunde. Carol van Driel-Murray. Stuttgart: 1998

Die römerzeitlichen Schuh- und Lederfunde der Kastelle Saalburg, Zugmantel and Kleiner Feldberg. Anna Lisa Busch, Saalburg Jahrbuch 22, 1965.

Römische Lederfunde aus Mainz. Jutta Göpfrich. Offenbach: 1991

Vindolanda. Research Reports, New Series. Vol. III The Early Wooden Forts. Carol van Driel-Murray, John Peter Wild et al. 1993

Footwear in the North-Western Provinces of the Roman Empire. Carol van Driel-Murray. in Goubitz/Van Driel-Murray/Groenman-van Wateringe: Stepping Through Time. Archeological Footwear from Prehistoric Times until 1800, Zwolle 2001.

There's more of course but those are the one's I find most helpful when it comes to pictures/drawings of actual finds and for reconstructions.
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#3
Vielen dank Martin!

It was in fact my finding the wonderful image of the caliga in the Deutsches Ledermuseum / Schuhmuseum Offenbach that prompted me to question things more directly. I did read the other threads you mentioned (thanks) and it is indeed interesting that there does seem to be reason to question current recreations.

Vale

Matt
See FABRICA ROMANORVM Recreations in the Marketplace for custom helmets, armour, swords and more!
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#4
The only wrench in the plans I can see, is that the thinner strap is going to be weaker. Even using 5-7 oz leather...where the hole is on the end of the strap for the lace to go through, is going to be under a fair bit of pressure. Not saying it's going to tear or deteriorate right away, but it's going to fail a lot sooner than one which is wider...or thicker for that matter. Any evidence as to the thickness of the leather used?

Any theories matt on how it was attached on the back, if not a sewn seam?
____________________________________________________________
Magnus/Matt
LEGIO II AVG COH VIII
It amazes me how quickly stupid people are out-breeding the smart ones.

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"I am on a drug. It\'s called Charlie Sheen. If you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body" - Charlie Sheen
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#5
Quote:Does anyone know of the actual archaeological basis for believing that Legionary caligae were constructed by stitching across the back of the heel and up the back of the ankle/ lower leg section? It strikes me as a design with an inherent weakness at a point where there's a great deal of stress on the sandal. Are there actually artifacts that show these seams? The few images I've found don't show this area sufficiently to really tell.
I stitched the backs of my new caligae using a reinforced vertical double running stitch because that was the way it was shown in the book, "Stepping through Time". There are also illustrations of caligae having this kind of back seam construction in Faugeras's book, "Weapons of the romans". This construction appears to be quite strong. I also used 5-7oz leather. Another point is the use "bumps" at the locations where straps join (see the pattern that I posted). I suspect that these bumps are more than just decorative, but serve to reinfoce the strap joins.
Titus Licinius Neuraleanus
aka Lee Holeva
Conscribe te militem in legionibus, vide mundum, inveni terras externas, cognosce miros peregrinos, eviscera eos.
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.legiotricesima.org">http://www.legiotricesima.org
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#6
Hi Magnus,

Quote:The only wrench in the plans I can see, is that the thinner strap is going to be weaker.

yes, quite true and the Romans lived with it, it seems - many of the suviving caligae show signs of tear an make-shift to professional repairs and/or reinforcements of affected areas. It is worth noticing therefore that even so they seemingly did not change the design, i.e. make those straps thicker, in response. Perhaps the military caliga was seen as a shortlived and often to be replaced item in a soldier's life (as van Driel-Murray suggests).

As for leather thickness, as far as I can remember there is no good information on this except that the pics show that it wasn't too thick either.
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#7
Well just my own very simple tests on 5oz. leather (2mm) shows that a strap of 5mm width has a breaking point that is greater than 50lbs (22.73kg). The artifact from the Deutsches Ledermuseum / Schuhmuseum Offenbach shows a 'tongue' of roughly 1" (2.54cm) at the top of each inverted 'V' pair of straps, and if you punch a circular apex as opposed to making it by two cuts meeting, it ought to resist tearing/ splitting fairly well. Certainly even thicker leather would be stronger as well, although I can't say for sure what any artifact's thinckenss is as I only thus far have images to work from.

It's not complete yet, but here's my first prototype:

[Image: pdr00787rz.jpg]

At the moment it's just wrapped around my foot and I'm standing on the sole, so would be flat along the sides once mated to the sole. I think the inverted 'V' pairs of straps are a little too wide at the base- or their sides are too straight and ought to curve in more as the artifact's straps are fairly close together through much of their length (toward the apex). Either that or it's just an artifact of its preservation, and the straps really ought to be straight and evenly-spaced- it's really hard to tell.

Here's a link to a great image of the artifact I'm working from: [url:3c1vlm9u]http://www.ledermuseum.de/vollbild/seiten/03_e.htm[/url]

Matt
See FABRICA ROMANORVM Recreations in the Marketplace for custom helmets, armour, swords and more!
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#8
Quote:I stitched the backs of my new caligae using a reinforced vertical double running stitch because that was the way it was shown in the book, "Stepping through Time". There are also illustrations of caligae having this kind of back seam construction in Faugeras's book, "Weapons of the romans". This construction appears to be quite strong.

Sorry, I was meaning the horizontal seam at the base of the heel- not the vertical one. I dont' doubt the latter was strong, but with the way caliga designs are, there isn't much or any leather to fold under the heel to securely connect the upper at that point (it seems to me). That's where I'd expect a fair amount of stress on the seam if the sandals are worn a lot, for extended periods, or in adverse weather conditions. That lead me to wonder what the source of the design was- and the fact that the Offenbach Ledermuseum artifact has such a thin vertical strip up the back that it really doesn't look like it would have a seam there (can't see either way from the image though).

My alternative is to wrap the upper around the foot from the back and simply fold the leather under the sole (cutting wedges where necessary). The stitching necessary would therefore be under the foot, and since the upper is additionally connected mechanically to the sole via the hobnails, there ought to be no serious stress on these seams. Of course I can't defend this design archaeologically, it does seem stronger to me, and would be at least one way of achieving a seamless back if indeed there artifacts that lack them. Some if not most modern shoes and boots are made by folding the bottom of the uppers under the foot, so it definitely does work...

Matt
See FABRICA ROMANORVM Recreations in the Marketplace for custom helmets, armour, swords and more!
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#9
Quote:Sorry, I was meaning the horizontal seam at the base of the heel- not the vertical one. I dont' doubt the latter was strong, but with the way caliga designs are, there isn't much or any leather to fold under the heel to securely connect the upper at that point (it seems to me). That's where I'd expect a fair amount of stress on the seam if the sandals are worn a lot, for extended periods, or in adverse weather conditions

After completely stitching up the back, I left the region between the upper and the soles open. Where is this "horizontal seam" in this pattern?

[Image: ValkenburgCaligaeHeel.gif]
Titus Licinius Neuraleanus
aka Lee Holeva
Conscribe te militem in legionibus, vide mundum, inveni terras externas, cognosce miros peregrinos, eviscera eos.
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.legiotricesima.org">http://www.legiotricesima.org
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#10
So you just fold that little triangle of leather under the heel then (the dotted line) and glue it or nails hold it in place? I've seen some recreations stitch that point rather than having the small flap to fold, and some where there are some stitches put in to hold the small flap under there.

Do your caligae get a fair amount of use? Enough to say that I'm worrying about nothing that is? :lol: Mine never have you see, so my wondering about the potential weakness is simply from a design point-of-view.

Matt
See FABRICA ROMANORVM Recreations in the Marketplace for custom helmets, armour, swords and more!
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#11
Quote:So you just fold that little triangle of leather under the heel then (the dotted line) and glue it or nails hold it in place? I've seen some recreations stitch that point rather than having the small flap to fold, and some where there are some stitches put in to hold the small flap under there.
I simply sandwiched the entire assembly together and let the nails hold it together. I suppose that you could stitch the gap closed, but I've never bothered to do this. My previous pair, made this same way, got a fair amount of use. We'll see about this new pair.
Titus Licinius Neuraleanus
aka Lee Holeva
Conscribe te militem in legionibus, vide mundum, inveni terras externas, cognosce miros peregrinos, eviscera eos.
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.legiotricesima.org">http://www.legiotricesima.org
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#12
Ah, okay- I guess I'm just seeing potential problems where there aren't really any in practice Big Grin That's good to know- gratias!

Matt
See FABRICA ROMANORVM Recreations in the Marketplace for custom helmets, armour, swords and more!
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#13
Quote:fold that little triangle of leather under the heel then (the dotted line)
I think that's not a triangle of leather, but the open area. It only looks to be 'folded' under the insole to show where the cut out falls.
Richard Campbell
Legio XX - Alexandria, Virginia
RAT member #6?
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#14
Right- I see what you mean Rich. Okay, so what's the actual archaeological basis for this design- both the very thick straps and the open heel?

Matt
See FABRICA ROMANORVM Recreations in the Marketplace for custom helmets, armour, swords and more!
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#15
Hi Matt,

Quote:Do your caligae get a fair amount of use?

my first pair (let's not talk about the pattern I used :-P P ) have around 300 - 400 km (14 days march of about 250km + training before + the odd trotting around on events) on them and I found that they stood up quite good to that. However, the heel area certainly is the part that is probably under most stress and I had to eventually restitch it.

The sources I know unfortunately do not give any details on how this was solved w/ the originals, so now I plan to contact van Driel-Murray and ask her about that ...
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