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UWGB Linothorax Project
Topic Started: Sep 1 2017, 11:25 PM (684 Views)
Steven M. Peffley
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Okay, point me to a refutation of this old chest
nut regarding glued linen armor.
https://www.uwgb.edu/aldreteg/Linothorax.ht...380016498676634
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Dan Howard
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I've critiqued their book a few times now. These days I just cut and paste a summary.

----------------

The latest research suggests that what we thought we knew about the linothorax was pretty much all wrong. The armour that we commonly see in Greek illustrations that is known as a "tube and yoke" corselet has erroneously been called a "linothorax" but was actually called a spolas. It was probably what the Spartans called an aegis as well. The word "aegis" implies that it was made from animal hide and we have Pollux's Onomastikon specifically telling us that the spolas was made of animal hide. We have no evidence for Greek linen armour during the classical or Hellenistic periods but there is evidence of it at the end of the Bronze Age.

Regarding Aldrete's book on reconstructing Greek linen armour, it has six fundamental problems:

1. All of the sources he cites for Greek linen armour during the time in question are actually talking about foreigners using linen armour, not Greeks. As mentioned above, what little evidence we have about Greek tube and yoke armour suggests that it is made of leather, not linen.

2. He relies on an outdated hypothesis by Connolly who suggested that glue may have been used to make their linen armour because their shoulder flaps appear to be "springy" in some illustrations. Firstly, properly quilted linen is just as springy and rigid as glued linen (take a look at kendo arm guards). Secondly, we now suspect that those shoulder flaps were more likely made of leather, and not linen at all.

3. Layered textile armour has been used in battle for at least three thousand years all over the world from the Americas to Europe to Asia. There are dozens of extant examples and many descriptions of how it is made in various texts. Every single one is quilted. There isn't a shred of evidence to suggest that glue has ever been used to make layered textile armour in all of that three thousand year history. The two articles that Aldrete cites as evidence for using glue in his reconstruction are discussed here.
https://bookandsword.com/2014/02/14/did-the...linen-armour-2/

As can be seen, they do no such thing.

4. His team doesn't seem to have bothered to examine any of the multitude of extant examples of textile armour and so their quilted test pieces are woefully substandard compared to how real textile armour was made. Because of this they come to the false conclusion that their glued construction was more protective than quilted armour. When the quilting is properly done, a good case can be made for quilting actually providing better protection than glue.

5. They overbuild their reconstruction. If they really wanted to reproduce Hellenistic linen armour then they should not have made it so thick that it was completely arrowproof. Pausanias said that linen armour was better for hunting because it was susceptible to a strong weapon thrust, and Alexander was almost killed by an arrow that punched through his armour. We know that linen armour can be made arrowproof; there were European examples with as much as 30 layers in their construction, but the linen armour described in Greek texts seems to have been a lot lighter.

6. According to his figures, his linen construction seems to provide better protection than a similar weight of hardened steel! In the real world we had to wait for the invention of kevlar to do that. Plus, the so-called bronze plate he tested was 20% less dense than real bronze, suggesting either his measurements were sloppy or he never used bronze at all. In addition, he said that the metal was annealed, which destroys the work-hardening and seriously compromises the metal's ability to stop weapons.

Their experiments regarding glued linen are actually well thought out and carefully documented, but ultimately it was a pointless squandering of resources until someone comes up with evidence that historical armour was ever made like this. It would have been far more useful if they put those resources to examining how various types of quilted armour performed. Quilted linen makes a very effective armour. It actually provides better protection than a similar weight of layered leather - even if it is hardened into cuirbouili. Personally I believe that the Greeks may have made limited use of linen armour during the classical and Hellenistic periods but it definitely wasn't glued and it may not have been of the tube and yoke typology.
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Todd Feinman
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And starting on page 45 of "Wearing the Cloak", discussion of twined linen armour (perhaps, Alexander Mosaic, Etruscan depictions, Egyptian depictions, Masada greave liner). PDF:
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&...n-qFFeP51E6Le3A
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Matthew Amt
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Oh, yeah, Aldrete set us back about 40 years with that book. We were just starting to climb out of a research pit when he kicked us back in and shoveled dirt on top.

Matthew
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Steven M. Peffley
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Thank You Everybody, Especially Dan,

This is a furious debate on the Roman Army Talk Facebook. Someone name Stuart L. Koehl is arguing from this book. Dan D'Silva has weighed in on opposition. I mentioned that most modern research points toward either leather or twined construction. Stuart is now saying Cuirboulie, but arguing the (probably) disproved, boiled-in-wax approach.
And this is his latest:

"Stuart L. Koehl Nicholas Geering Would these not, then simulate the bronze muscle cuirass, rather than what is obviously a fabric garment? Indeed, the so-called cuirass of Phillip II of Macedon appears to be nothing less than the replication of a linothorax in bronze and iron."

I think I am about ready to put this down; no convincing a "true believer" in anything regardless of proof.
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Dan Howard
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Cuirbouilli armour was never boiled in wax. Firstly the wax acts as a lubricant and lets points slide through more easily. Secondly, a lot of cuirbouilli armour was decorated in paint and/or gesso. It is impossible to apply these finishes to wax-impregnated leather. Cuirbouilli was made either by cooking leather in hot (not boiling) water or by baking it in an oven. The waxed cuirbouilli process was limited mainly to bottles and other containers.

The process of tanning leather takes rawhide and makes it softer and more supple so it is suitable for different applications. The cuirbouilli process makes it hard and rigid again. Why bother doing all this when rawhide is already suitable? The evidence supports this because the vast majority of so-called leather armour all over the world was actually made from rawhide, not leather. Cuirbouilli armour was limited to a short period of time in western Europe - mainly Italy and it was never worn by itself except in tournaments. On the battlefield it was layered over mail because of cuirbouilli's inability to stop points.

The problem with muscle cuirasses made from cuirbouilli is that they can't stop weapons. Modern reproductions are so thin that you can stick a pencil through them. Proper leather armour was multi-layered and very thick. If I was to make a spolas I would use 2-4 layers of heavy cowhide on the chest and 1-2 layers on the abdomen and shoulders. The chest section should end up 1-2 cm thick just like all the other examples of hide armour we have.
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Todd Feinman
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Steven M. Peffley,Sep 2 2017
07:34 PM
Thank You Everybody, Especially Dan,

        This is a furious debate on the Roman Army Talk Facebook. Someone name Stuart L. Koehl is arguing from this book. Dan D'Silva has weighed in on opposition. I mentioned that most modern research points toward either leather or twined construction. Stuart is now saying Cuirboulie, but arguing the (probably) disproved, boiled-in-wax approach.
     And this is his latest:

"Stuart L. Koehl Nicholas Geering Would these not, then simulate the bronze muscle cuirass, rather than what is obviously a fabric garment? Indeed, the so-called cuirass of Phillip II of Macedon appears to be nothing less than the replication of a linothorax in bronze and iron."

      I think I am about ready to put this down; no convincing a "true believer" in anything regardless of proof.

Feel free to use this pic of twined linen Tube and Yoke in progress; I plan on smiting folks with it when finished, but it is turning out to be very slow motion smiting..
http://i.imgur.com/VjjpMz0.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/YWMJgkY.jpg

Like:https://farm8.static.flickr.com/7072/717419...1324f66fb_b.jpg
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Dan D'Silva
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Too flattering to suggest that my view might be worth mentioning when all I "know" is the discussion as driven by others.

My issue was with Stuart's reasoning, which seems to be:
1. Unhardened leather isn't good enough as armor against spear thrusts.
2. The tube-and-yoke does not look like cuir bouilli.
3. Therefore it was not leather.
Each point raises questions, but the one I was asking him was whether he therefore concluded that the spolas was made of cuir bouilli, since we know that the spolas was leather armor.

It's turning out a lot like katsika's thread on the same subject at RAT; even though he was arguing the opposite, his reasoning was very questionable to me. And questions were not getting addressed.
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Matthew Amt
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The major problem with declaring how defensive whatever material might have been, is that we have no idea of the *thickness* of Greek organic armor, nor what kind of leather or hide was used, or (if you like) what thickness of linen fabric or cord, etc. There's just no data to work from, and too many options. The modern default is usually vegetable-tanned leather, but I don't even know if we can prove that was common in ancient Greece! Rawhide, alum-tawed, and other types of tannage are all possibilities.

One reservation I have about rawhide is that it just doesn't *behave*, in its untreated form. Presumably the ancients had a lot of experience, of course, but I just can't see a tube-and-yoke of rawhide not warping and twisting and curling up after some sweat or a little rain. Smoking it might help? Or does that only help with preservation? Painting it will introduce moisture, and it'll warp again. So that, as I see it, is the whole point of making *some* kind of leather first, even if the finished product isn't as remarkably weapon-resistant as straight rawhide. Armor is no good if it crushes you or peels off your body.

Greece needs more bogs...

Matthew
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Dan Howard
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We don't really need to know how Greek leather armour was made because we have hundreds of examples from other cultures and time periods. The overwhelming majority of them are made from rawhide or semi-tanned leather and multilayered. Asian cultures solved the moisture problem by using lacquer.

I always thought that western Europeans didn't use much hide armour because it was rarer and more expensive than further east but perhaps it was because they never had a suitable finish to prevent the hide from being compromised by water.
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Todd Feinman
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I posted this on another forum but, I still think this might be a way to make a reasonable reproduction of one. Materials would be about $600.


PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2017 6:27 pm Post subject: Real Spolas! Reply with quote
If you are going to make a spolas, I woukd recommend using two layers of natural unbleached oxhide or red deer hide; you can purchase it at Centralia Hide and Fur. It is brown and translucent, so paint both layers with a casein-oil emulsion:
http://www.sinopia.com/Artisanal-Casein-Pa...ase-_p_213.html

The casein is super tough and will permanently bond with the hide. You can even paint on decoration when it is done. Give it final rubbing with artist-grade safflower oil. Make it in sections if you'd like and drill holes and stitch an edging holding the two layers together: https://www.uwgb.edu/aldreteg/Vase1.close.jpeg

If you get the very thick hide and use the sections along the back which are thicker, it should make excellent, very water-resistant armour. Easy to deal with blood stains with more casein! You WILL want to nail the hides to a board while painting, so they won't warp as they dry. Store flat.
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Todd Feinman
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The beauty of the casein / oil emulsion, is that the linseed oil will in time make the hide more supple, very, Very slowly turning it into leather.
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Todd Feinman
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it seems pretty certain that twining was used to make some linen T&Y armours. some may have been quilted too, but from Alexander Mosaic, to Etruscan urns, to Egyptian depictions, Masada greave liner, Roman statues, i see twining. As Matt and others mentioned before, T&Y was just a style or configuration ofarmour made with different materials.
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Dan Howard
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Todd Feinman,Sep 3 2017
03:39 PM
The beauty of the casein / oil emulsion, is that the linseed oil will in time make the hide more supple, very, Very slowly turning it into leather.

Why is this good? It compromises its ability to act as armour.
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Dan Howard
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Todd Feinman,Sep 3 2017
03:49 PM
it seems pretty certain that twining was used to make some linen T&Y armours.

The only examples we have of Greek linen armour are made of multiple layers of quilted linen, not twined linen. It is possible that they stopped using layered linen and started using twined linen in the Hellenistic period but we have nothing to confirm it.

Quote:
 
but from Alexander Mosaic, to Etruscan urns, to Egyptian depictions, Masada greave liner, Roman statues, i see twining

And I don't. Illustrations are not useful for this kind of analysis because they can be interpreted any way you want. We do know that some greave liners were made from twined linen but they also made armour padding from sponges and nobody is seriously proposing that they made armour from sponges. Armour padding and armour do not perform the same function and have to be made differently.
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Todd Feinman
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I respect your desire to stick to the physical evidence. And i knowc i cant present anything new, so I'll make the case for twining fir passing eyes. I see a pattern of "fringes" which, if just a decorative fringe made from the ends of warp threads, would wear kff quickly. When these "fringes" are seen in things like the Etruscan urns:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dandiffendale...in/photostream/


they appear to have taken pains to show the thick ends of the cords, and possibly even the knotting at the top of the tube portion.


In the Alexander Mosaic, they are also present, right down to the number needed to construct each ptyrege:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alexan...reat_mosaic.jpg


The fringe is seen on the earliest depictions of what is likely linen armour from the tomb of Ramses III:
https://i.pinimg.com/736x/98/69/03/9869038f...ypt-armours.jpg

These later depictions also show the cords, sometimes with the fibers apparent, and they appear to be meant to protect the abdomen:
https://i.pinimg.com/564x/45/27/91/4527914a...a986cebbc55.jpg

https://www.flickr.com/photos/carolemage/11...58834916<img src='https://i.pinimg.com/736x/98/69/03/9869038fdabb93b35ed557d39276aefc--ancient-egypt-armours.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image'>

i know you have seen all of this stuff, just wantedcto getvit out tgyere as the case for cords and twining. wish we could post images here, still though!

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Matthew Amt
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Quote:
 
The only examples we have of Greek linen armour are made of multiple layers of quilted linen, not twined linen.


Sure, but the only *descriptions* we have of linen armor--not Greek!--clearly indicates twining. The Amasis armor can't be anything else, and Xenophon's description of linen cuirasses with a thick fringe of knotted cords at the waist *instead of flaps* is pretty significant, too. (For one thing, it implies that he expected to see linen armor with flaps!)

Quote:
 
It is possible that they stopped using layered linen and started using twined linen in the Hellenistic period but we have nothing to confirm it.


Pretty much agreed.

Quote:
 
Quote:
 
but from Alexander Mosaic, to Etruscan urns, to Egyptian depictions, Masada greave liner, Roman statues, i see twining

And I don't. Illustrations are not useful for this kind of analysis because they can be interpreted any way you want.


Agreed again. Yes, fringe on the ends of pteruges *could* indicate an overall twined construction, but it *could* just be fringe! So no more than a "maybe", to me.

And I would have to say that we DO need to know how the Greeks made their leather armor if we want to make accurate reconstructions! Or have anything worth discussing in those endless long debates about protection versus weight, etc...

Matthew
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Todd Feinman
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I forgot to mention the cognate Pscific Islands woven armours:https://i.pinimg.com/736x/98/69/03/9869038f...ypt-armours.jpg

to show that it is a viable means of constructing armour.
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Todd Feinman
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Anyway, Dan, Matt, love to have more input on it! i think tthe question is about the antiquity and military use of twining. i think we afe in agreement thast tggere is no conclusive evidence. i believe quilting was also used.
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Dan Howard
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Todd Feinman,Sep 4 2017
01:45 PM
I forgot to mention the cognate Pacific Islands woven armours:

Which is a perfect segue into this thread, which shows why relying on sculptures and paintings to study armour is a waste of time.
http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/thread-24413.html

They can help put archaeological finds into their proper context but they can't be used by themselves.
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