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Thread: On leather musculated cuirasse and other things.

  1. #1

    Default On leather musculated cuirasse and other things.

    I have read many works about this period but one doubt that I always had is that : Were they really a thing and if that is the case then how popular were they in the Hellenic world?

    Also how popular was mail armour in the Hellenistic world?

    Final thing : Was Linothorax still used in 146 B.C. or in the Mithridatic wars?

    Thank you.

  2. #2

    Default Re: On leather musculated cuirasse and other things.

    Linothorax is a weird animal because it can't be said for certain if it really existed within the context of the Classical Greece proper or if the tube & yoke cuirasses depicted in the art are the leather/hide "spolas" mentioned by Xenophon.

    The issue was argued forth and back, but it's not possible to solve in either favor without any surviving relics of armor...


    Edit:

    A link to give you an impression how headache-inducing is the "linothorax vs spolas" issue:
    https://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/sh...=14678&page=18


    Edit+2:

    There's no material evidence for leather muscle cuirasses, even in the art. Even an unusual color for a depicted muscle cuirass wouldn't be an evidence because the Ancients could be painting metal parts of the armor. This type of armor most likely is a Hollywood fantasy.
    Last edited by Satapatiš; May 23, 2020 at 11:51 AM.
    Furthermore, I believe that Rome must be destroyed.




  3. #3

    Default Re: On leather musculated cuirasse and other things.

    The use of leather in Tube and Yoke cuirasses is up for heavy debate, but every enthusiast I know of rejects the existence of leather muscle cuirasses.


    Maille saw at least some use in the Hellenistic world, but you'll probably have to ask one of the historical consultants here as to how much. From what I see in the mod, maille remains rare until the Hellenistic world starts Romanizing. Then it sees a decent amount of use in the heaviest infantry of the army. I don't believe it sees much use in the cavalry, except for the Kataphractoi.

  4. #4

    Default Re: On leather musculated cuirasse and other things.

    Quote Originally Posted by BailianSteel View Post
    The use of leather in Tube and Yoke cuirasses is up for heavy debate,
    Current trend is to use hide or rawhide for the reconstruction and the reenactment, at least for the Classical period. Connely's theory is shakily conjectural (i.e. it proves that it could be built with the technology of the era but not that it was done).

    For the Hellenic period it could be either cattle hides or quilted linen, depends of what materials were more available locally.


    It's just that the theorized archetypal glued linen corset probably is as much a fantasy as are leather muscle cuirasses.


    But of course we'll never know for sure with the word thorax being used for all kinds of the torso protection and with how popular this cut was regardless of the material used (which means that its artistic depictions can be anything).
    Last edited by Satapatiš; May 24, 2020 at 10:01 AM.
    Furthermore, I believe that Rome must be destroyed.




  5. #5

    Default Re: On leather musculated cuirasse and other things.

    So would that open the possibility for the famed Linothorax to be just some sort of streamlined, non-muscled, mostly metal cuirass, with no organic main components?

  6. #6

    Default Re: On leather musculated cuirasse and other things.

    Quote Originally Posted by RodriguesSting View Post
    So would that open the possibility for the famed Linothorax to be just some sort of streamlined, non-muscled, mostly metal cuirass, with no organic main components?
    Nope. Given its prominence in art, it's almost impossible to not recover any remains of such common armour, unless it was organic and as such, subject to decay.

  7. #7

    Default Re: On leather musculated cuirasse and other things.

    The Vergina cuirass is an iron plate corset made in a tube and yoke cut, but it was patterned to emulate contemporary soft armors. Not the other way around. It wasn't the only one of its kind and an iron plate can rust away completely... But there would be more than a single find if iron tube and yoke armors were common.


    But the Vergina cuirass is a very good example for how hard is to tell of what the armor is made whilst having only contemporary art as the source. If someone wearing it was depicted on a red figure pottery, they'd look like wearing same armor as people clad in fabric or leather corsets.


    Edit: The same can be said about the Prodromi iron muscle cuirass. The stylized period art wouldn't show it as being different than its bronze counterparts.


    BTW - imagine the high cost of quality iron armor in the era with no iron casting or blast furnaces. All the impurities had to be hammered out the hard way. Chances are, the iron plate armor and helmets could be more expensive than their bronze counterparts. Depends of how much a blacksmith would ask for the effort.
    Last edited by Satapatiš; May 26, 2020 at 12:49 PM.
    Furthermore, I believe that Rome must be destroyed.




  8. #8

    Default Re: On leather musculated cuirasse and other things.

    1. I don't know of any evidence for leather muscle cuirass.

    2. I have no idea how popular mail armor was, but the only depiction I know of is the funerary stele of Salmamodes. Perhaps it is mentioned more in ancient writings. Hopefully someone will be able to answer this, I'm kind of curious as well.

    3. Once again, the range of Linothorax use is beyond me. For what it's worth, I think Numidian reliefs at Chemtou depict such armor perhaps during Massinissa's reign. Although it was probably created well before 146 BCE, it was at least likely created in the same century. I don't really know of later depictions that would have been contemporary with usage. I don't have a clue for the Mithridatic wars.

    Oh boy, someone mentioned leather in creation of the armor we are referring to as Linothorax. Be careful with Roman army talk, they are kind of caught up on one definition relying on one source for leather.


    I hope someone who has done research on this sort of thing will step in, I obviously couldn't answer your questions.

  9. #9

    Default Re: On leather musculated cuirasse and other things.

    They're at least two mentions of the spolas or spolades although the word may or may not be used for armor. The same ambiguity exists for the linen, though.


    What I'd like to know, however, is if there are preserved records of the availability and expense for linen because only knowing that it was a luxury fabric is not saying much. "Too expensive to be used for armoring" can only work if it's known for certain that it was expensive enough to pick metal armor instead. The era also knew iron scale armor and that's not as expensive as the bronze cuirasses. It's also simpler to build than iron chainmail.


    To elaborate - the idea that fine-woven linen was too expensive to be widely used for armoring works only if the expense of making a layered linen armor was high enough for the end product being only slightly less (or even more) expensive than armoring made of metal.
    Last edited by Satapatiš; Today at 08:52 AM.
    Furthermore, I believe that Rome must be destroyed.




  10. #10

    Default Re: On leather musculated cuirasse and other things.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satapatiš View Post
    They're at least two mentions of the spolas or spolades although the word may or may not be used for armor. The same ambiguity exists for the linen, though.


    What I'd like to know, however, is if there are preserved records of the availability and expense for linen because only knowing that it was a luxury fabric is not saying much. "Too expensive to be used for armoring" can only work if it's known for certain that it was expensive enough to pick metal armor instead. The era also knew iron scale armor and that's not as expensive as the bronze cuirasses. It's also simpler to build than iron chainmail.


    To elaborate - the idea that fine-woven linen was too expensive to be widely used for armoring works only if the expense of making a layered linen armor was high enough for the end product being only slightly less (or even more) expensive than armoring made of metal.
    I'm sure you've heard of Aldrete's book on the Linothorax. The RomanArmyTalk folk hate it since the reconstructions are glued linen, more on that in a minute. I know you aren't a fan of glued linen due to lack of evidence. But more importantly he discusses the evidence for linen armor and why the spolas likely isn't armor.

    In it he discusses the spolas, which as you said is pretty ambiguous with Xenophon. It's said that the men (I think cavalrymen) were equipped with spolas and thorakes, but it wasn't clear if they were wearing both at the same time or if they were two separate types. I'm not sure, but isn't thorakes just the general term for body armor? If that's the case, it would be weird for the spolas to be separate if it were indeed armor. If I recall, the second mention is an arrow piercing a soldier's shield and spolas. This makes it sound like armor, but isn't definitive. The association with a spolas with leather armor is Julius Pollux's Omnasticon. This is dubious as an only source in many different ways, but notably how he also mentioned Sophocles description of Libyans wearing a spolas, which is a leopard skin. This rather confusing, because the two usages in the same definition seem to contradict. However, Aldrete also references Aristophanes play The Bird in which a citizen commands an attendant to give an impoverished poet their spolas. In this usage, it obviously isn't armor. It's likely that he was confused since he wrote in the second century, and Alderete believes it's also possible that he might have based it off of some leather garment worn under armor during his time which might have been referred to as such. Either way, the identification of armor Aldrete refers to as Type 4 as leather armor is extremely shifty.

    Linen armor does not have the same ambiguity. Aldrete wrote a number of pages referencing the use of linen armor by many different groups.

    I don't think it's possible to know how expensive linen was, but Aldrete points out that linen doesn't mean high quality luxury fabric. If I had to guess, I would say that the luxury is more recent perception. Linen was probably an everyday fabric for people then. There could have been high quality linen, but also low quality linen. Most of the cost of linen armor would have been in labor, as it requires a lot of it. But that also doesn't mean it would be less expensive than metal armor, as metal armor had labor costs of its own as well as scarcity. You mention comparison to iron armors, but during the greatest usage of linen armor, iron armor wasn't around or was fairly rare.

    I did say I'd get back to the glued (laminated) linen. Aldrete points out that a 14 layered piece of linen from Mycenae has been found. The folks at RomanArmyTalk argue that it's too old and wouldn't apply to more recent time period we are looking at, but that's pretty solid evidence that laminated linen was used. There's also a laminated fragment from Tarquinia. Especially with the reconstruction, lamination is a good candidate. That's not to say all linen armor was laminated. I'm not sure if the shin guard from Dura Europos was laminated.

    As is a theme in this thread, I can't give you the answer to what you're looking for. I don't know if records of availability and expense of linen from the time exist. It doesn't seem like something that would be preserved, but it would be cool if something was found.

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