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Nathan E




Location: Arizona
Joined: 17 Jun 2008

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue 17 Jun, 2008 8:19 am    Post subject: Degree of curve in curved shields (Kite, scutum, etc.)         Reply with quote

One subject that isn't really discussed is what angle of curve should be present in a shield. There have been different methods discussed on this site, ranging from a shield press to wrapping your ply around some kegs or a tree, but what has been lacking is the degree in which the curve should be.

Most everyone can agree that the curve should be made to fit your body so that it offers the greatest amount of protection, however shield makers of the time must have had some uniformity when constructing shields.

For example, Scutums had to have been massed produced for the Roman army, so what curve did they use in there press? The only resource I can find to answer this question has been on the Legion XX website. They stated a 13" diameter circle, the depth of which is 9.5" from the perimeter, make a perpendicular line, and whalla, you have your curve. I can't remember the source off hand, but a website had a quote from a Roman which said the width was two and a half feet, with the breath the size of your palm, so maybe five or six inches - way off from what Legion XX has. So which is correct....

Another popular curved shield is the kite, and I have found no information as to what the curve should be on that.

The shield presses which have been shown on this site also don't mention the curve to use. My best guess would be to make a shield press that can do multiple curves (by changing out the ribs), however without knowing what curve to set them to would make the process difficult.

So, for the shields that you have created that have a curve, what is the measurement of the curve that you used?
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 17 Jun, 2008 8:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan,
You posted the exact same post in four different locations: this thread and in two existing threads (one of them twice after I deleted the first). I've removed the other three. Please note this section from our Rules of Conduct:

Quote:
Please do not cross-post the same topic to multiple forums or the same message to multiple topics. Post only in the most appropriate and on-topic place.


Thank you.

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/
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Nathan E




Location: Arizona
Joined: 17 Jun 2008

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue 17 Jun, 2008 8:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gotcha, new member. Wasn't sure how it would appear on the site and I wanted to make sure the questions was listed in all appropriate sections. Thanks for the reminder!
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,306

PostPosted: Tue 17 Jun, 2008 6:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Degree of curve in curved shields (Kite, scutum, etc.)         Reply with quote

Ave!

Since I wrote the Legio XX site, I figured I better chime in, here!

Nathan E wrote:
One subject that isn't really discussed is what angle of curve should be present in a shield. There have been different methods discussed on this site, ranging from a shield press to wrapping your ply around some kegs or a tree, but what has been lacking is the degree in which the curve should be.

Most everyone can agree that the curve should be made to fit your body so that it offers the greatest amount of protection, however shield makers of the time must have had some uniformity when constructing shields.


Not necessarily! The power of fashion is always underestimated--curvature was customary for some types of shield, but not for others, but we should not assume "uniformity" from that. What we actually see is a wide range of variation.

While it is generally agreed that a curved shield does tend to give better protection in many situations, I had never heard the idea that a shield "should be made to fit your body". Armor, yes! But not necessarily a shield.

Quote:
For example, Scutums had to have been massed produced for the Roman army...


Well, yes and no. Sure, many shields were made, and using the same basic methods and range of dimensions for any given era. But for the first century AD at least the work was apparently done by numerous local contractors. We don't know what sorts of specifications might have been followed.

Quote:
so what curve did they use in there press? The only resource I can find to answer this question has been on the Legion XX website. They stated a 13" diameter circle, the depth of which is 9.5" from the perimeter, make a perpendicular line, and whalla, you have your curve. I can't remember the source off hand, but a website had a quote from a Roman which said the width was two and a half feet, with the breath the size of your palm, so maybe five or six inches - way off from what Legion XX has. So which is correct....


It's a good question! To start off with, a disclaimer--I wrote that stuff a long time ago! So it's hard to remember exactly what information I was working with at the time. But the dimensions of the scutum press are just the dimensions that I used to get a pleasing and useful curvature that more or less matched what we see in Roman illustrations. Remember that some of the curvature of a shield blank is lost when the wood is removed from the press, depending on the type of wood, number of layers, type of glue, how long it was left to dry, etc. So from the same press we get some variation in our shield blanks, and that's a good thing!

Polybius does give basic dimensions of the shields of his day (2 centuries before our era!), and says something about a palm's width in thickness--we don't know if that means a depth of curvature of 4", or if the wood in the middle was as thick as your hand, or if the wooden boss stood out from the face by 4", or what! Not gonna worry about it.

The few surviving scuta are surprisingly little help. We used to be very impressed by the deep curvature of the Dura Europas scutum, but it turns out that when found it was squashed flat, and broken into a dozen pieces! So the curvature you're seeing in the museum today is almost completely arbitrary, and cannot be trusted. The Fayum shield shows signs of warpage, too.

Also bear in mind that the same radius of curvature will give different depths depending on the width of the wood. If you make two shields both with a radius of 13", the 33"-wide one will end up deeper than the 24"-wide one. And we know that widths did vary by at least that much. Chances are, the radius of curvature did as well.

Quote:
My best guess would be to make a shield press that can do multiple curves (by changing out the ribs)


Yipes! The ribs are most of the press! The other parts are just there to hold them in place. If you want to make shields with different curves, just make different presses for them. It should also be noted that a lot of people make curved shields without a press at all, using strap clamps, pipe clamps, or other methods. Those can easily be varied to make a wide range of curvatures.

Can't help you much with medieval shields, not my area of expertise!

Good luck and Vale,

Matthew
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Nathan E




Location: Arizona
Joined: 17 Jun 2008

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed 18 Jun, 2008 9:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As you can imagine, by main concern is constructing something that isn’t authentic to the period, but based on your comments, that might not be as much of a concern as I originally thought it was. Here is some more information I found on the internet that also speaks to the variation that was present in not only the size, but also the curvature of the scutums (and most likely all shields in general).

Quote:
“The scutum varied in dimensions, but was generally standardized by the military reforms instituted by Marius.”… “The curvature of the scutum varied from very shallow to very deep, as this scutum is curved.” –
museum.worldwidesam.net/reenactment/en/arms/roman/scutum.htm

Quote:
“Much of what we know about early principate scuta construction derives from the Dura Europos
scutum. Although this shield dates to the mid third century, it is not unreasonable to assume that the
methods of construction mirror those of earlier periods.

The dimensions:
• Height: 1.06 meters (42 inches)
• Width around the curve: 0.86 meters (34 inches)
• Thickness: 5-6 mm (about 1/4 inch)
• Chord: 0.66 meters (26 inches)

The chord dimension is somewhat suspect, particularly when one considers the state of the shield
remains when discovered. Converting the chord and arc length to a radius of curvature gives
approximately 18 inches.”
-
http://principialegionis.org/scutumconstruction.html

Based on your website  and your comments, I’ll go ahead and try to water heater method and see what happens – this way I can also play with the curvature for kite shields. If that fails, I’ll go ahead and build your improved press to get the desired curvature. The scutum that I will eventually build will be 40” long and 30” wide, (average height 37-42”, average width 24-33”) I’m now thinking about setting the curvature for maybe 8” so when it comes out of the press it will be around 6-7.”
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Sean Richards
Industry Professional



Location: San Diego
Joined: 29 Nov 2006

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat 26 Jul, 2008 4:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some addenda:

According to the Final Report on Dura Europas the "famous" Dura scutum
was reconstructed incorrectly. It was found crushed and in 13 pieces.

As for the "deep" curvature of the Dura scutum here's what the report
states:

......... "The curvature as now seen on the restored board is almost
certainly wrong, being too tight."

......... "Crucially, the current appearance of the board does not
reflect the original curvature of the shield, which both site records
and photpgraphs agree was much more gentle then that seen today."

We have NO idea of the depth of curve.

Roman sculptural art often shows a deed curve but folk such as Bishop, Coulston, James CAUTION against using art for details,.. Themes: Yes, Details: No.

Sean "Hibernicus" Richards
www.rlqm.com
www.legio-ix-hispana.org
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