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Gregg Sobocinski




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PostPosted: Sat 07 Nov, 2009 7:36 pm    Post subject: Historical scale armor found in Korea         Reply with quote

I thought that fans of scale armor would be interested in this article about a recent find of Korean scale armor for man and horse from the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C.-668 A.D.)

http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2907709
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 07 Nov, 2009 11:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice article. Far more detail than one usually gets in a newspaper. The weight seems strange - 4 to 5 kgs. I haven't seen a reconstruction of scale armour that weighs less than double this.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Nov, 2009 1:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The armour is getting most of the attention in the news reports - as well it might, since it's an unprecedented find - but the full kit seems to be there too. Ring pommel sword (84 cm long), a knife described as either made of deer horn or having a deer horn handle, and a spear (haven't seen any pictures or descriptions of it).

Perhaps the weight estimate is just wrong? However, (at least some examples of) Korean scale armour from much later have large scales with almost no overlap, if any. Less protection, but less weight.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Nov, 2009 3:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Concerning the weigth, armour in eras where dedicated anti-armour weaponry was not widespread would probably not need to be very thick. Compare to the roman 1mm lorcia segmentata, or similar armours.
We instinctively think that armour has to be thick and heavy, but the people that wore it would want it to be as ligth as posible.
A weigth of 5 kg would indicate something like 0,5mm scales? or 1mm?

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Artis Aboltins




PostPosted: Sun 08 Nov, 2009 4:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
Concerning the weigth, armour in eras where dedicated anti-armour weaponry was not widespread would probably not need to be very thick. Compare to the roman 1mm lorcia segmentata, or similar armours.
We instinctively think that armour has to be thick and heavy, but the people that wore it would want it to be as ligth as posible.
A weigth of 5 kg would indicate something like 0,5mm scales? or 1mm?


Remember, that Lorica has an overlap in the areas that are most likely to get hit. Also, we have no information how large was the area covered by the armour.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Nov, 2009 4:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
Concerning the weigth, armour in eras where dedicated anti-armour weaponry was not widespread would probably not need to be very thick. Compare to the roman 1mm lorcia segmentata, or similar armours.
We instinctively think that armour has to be thick and heavy, but the people that wore it would want it to be as ligth as posible.
A weigth of 5 kg would indicate something like 0,5mm scales? or 1mm?


Even 0.5mm scales would weigh considerably more than 5kg if it covered as much of the body as the article suggested. It is not unusual. Most scales are around this thickness. 1mm is exceptionally heavy for this type of armour.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Nov, 2009 4:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
Korean scale armour from much later have large scales with almost no overlap, if any.

Most of the armour in Korean museums is Japanese and the rest are replicas of varying degrees of accuracy. There are very very few examples of genuine Korean armour in Korean museums.
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James Arlen Gillaspie
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PostPosted: Sun 08 Nov, 2009 11:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One could lay the low weight to corrosion loss. This quote "It was in the coffin, measuring 440 centimeters (173 inches) long and 220 meters (722 feet) wide, that the archaeologists found the armor", that makes me wonder, though. That's a MIGHTY wide coffin!
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Nov, 2009 12:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Timo Nieminen wrote:
Korean scale armour from much later have large scales with almost no overlap, if any.

Most of the armour in Korean museums is Japanese and the rest are replicas of varying degrees of accuracy. There are very very few examples of genuine Korean armour in Korean museums.


I don't recall seeing any Korean body armour in Korean museums (definitely didn't bring back any photos). The usual Korean artifact-gap.

Stone has some photos of Korean munition armours, padded and leather scale. I don't know where these armours are, but I've seen photos of 2 of them elsewhere. Stone says 18th or 19th century for the large-scale leather. British Museum (iirc) has a reproduction Mongol scale armour with scales of similar appearance (steel scales, more coverage). These are similar in appearance to the scale armours seen in Korean art, the Mongol repro more so. Plausibly similar to the find, too.

1m^2 of 0.5 mm with little overlap would be about 4 kg, so the weight estimate isn't incredible, especially if it's meant to be for the scales only, not the whole armour. 4-5 kg with overlap would be flattened beer can armour.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Nov, 2009 1:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
4-5 kg with overlap would be flattened beer can armour.

Agreed. The problem is that beer cans are closer to 0.1mm in thickness.
When flattened (two layers) you get 0.2mm.
0.5mm scale armour weighs a lot more.
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Gregg Sobocinski




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Nov, 2009 10:12 am    Post subject: Scale armor- A second article         Reply with quote

Here's a link to the the Archaeology magazine article I originally wanted to post about this scale armor. Searching the magazine's website led me to the link I posted, but today I found the one I had wanted to share.

http://www.archaeology.org/0911/abstracts/korea_iron_man.html
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Mon 09 Nov, 2009 9:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You know Korea using light armor doesnīt surprise me. Korea is one of those places where wearing armor just isnīt all that pleasant. Korea has one nice season...spring, the rest of the year, itīs pure hell when your not in armor...much less with armor.
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Nov, 2009 4:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I cannot say I've been, but I have heard Korean summers are brutal hot.

M.

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Nov, 2009 12:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

They are hardly hotter than the Asian steppes where heavy scale and lamellar was the preferred type of armour. Heavy armour is quite bearable for hours at a time in the hottest of weather. I've worn various types of heavy armour all day in the Australian summer. Any problems with heat is usually caused by enclosed helmets, not heavy armour.
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Tue 10 Nov, 2009 4:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hot is one thing...hot and humid is another. Wearing heavy armor in Korea during summer is likely to be fatal to the armor wearer once they reach the area that use to be shilla. Heavy armor in monsoon also also not a very good idea as one is likely to get stuck from the heavy armor and mud. And the winter...well not only is there the mud issue, you now have to worry about frostbite too.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Nov, 2009 7:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P. Cha wrote:
Hot is one thing...hot and humid is another. Wearing heavy armor in Korea during summer is likely to be fatal to the armor wearer once they reach the area that use to be shilla. Heavy armor in monsoon also also not a very good idea as one is likely to get stuck from the heavy armor and mud. And the winter...well not only is there the mud issue, you now have to worry about frostbite too.


I have spent a couple of months in South Korea during a summer (1998?) that the locals complained about as hot and humid even for them. I do not know about the shilla though. Korean summer for me was really not any different than my regular Southeastern U.S. summer. The Conquistadors actually did bring and use armour in what I would consider roughly similar environments. I am not saying that they wore it constantly, just that it seems more consistent with history that it has been utilized to some degree in approximately comparable climates at more than one point in history.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Tue 10 Nov, 2009 10:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
P. Cha wrote:
Hot is one thing...hot and humid is another. Wearing heavy armor in Korea during summer is likely to be fatal to the armor wearer once they reach the area that use to be shilla. Heavy armor in monsoon also also not a very good idea as one is likely to get stuck from the heavy armor and mud. And the winter...well not only is there the mud issue, you now have to worry about frostbite too.


I have spent a couple of months in South Korea during a summer (1998?) that the locals complained about as hot and humid even for them. I do not know about the shilla though. Korean summer for me was really not any different than my regular Southeastern U.S. summer. The Conquistadors actually did bring and use armour in what I would consider roughly similar environments. I am not saying that they wore it constantly, just that it seems more consistent with history that it has been utilized to some degree in approximately comparable climates at more than one point in history.


Shilla is the southern most part of Korea. In the western part away from the mountains...in anycase, Koreans ALWAYS complain about hot and humid summers...every summer. They do the same in southern japan as well...but that is irrelevant :P . Actually the summers in the Florida is quite close to Korea actually...try wearing heavy armor for long periods in such weather and see how well you feel. As for the conquistadors...well they developed their armor outside of such environments and brought it over because it was what they had...if you will note, the natives had a distinct lack of such notions for body protection...and one has to wonder how many Spaniards died from the heat vs other hazards. In anycase, heavy armor during a monsoon is still a bad idea (Agincourt anyone?).
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Ben C.





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PostPosted: Tue 10 Nov, 2009 11:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Japan is both a hotter and more humid country than korea yet they were able to wear quite heavy armour. I suspect Koreans would have been no different in this respect.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Nov, 2009 4:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What about Thailand, Burma or Cambodia? All made use of heavy lamellar. It is a fallacy to think that weather played much part in anyone's choice of armour. It is perfectly possible to wear heavy armour all day in hot and humid conditions. It is enclosed helmets that cause problems not armour.
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Pierre T.




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Nov, 2009 8:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I just did a bit of calculations: a 1 by 2 metre sheet of 0.5 mm thick iron would weight 7.87 kg. 4-5 kg does seem low... but perhaps the 1x2 value is too large?

For a weight of 5 kg, the sheet would be 0.31 mm thick.
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