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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Sun 11 Mar, 2012 8:01 am    Post subject: Composite leather armour?         Reply with quote

I have a problem associating the Renaissance metal cuirass with any known leather predecessor. Calling leather bodyarmour a cuirass seems reasonable, but I can see nowhere leather armour looking like that. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...030454.jpg
I can imagine that you could achieve such an effect with dried rawhide or cuir bouilli on a wooden form for shaping, but I've seen nowhere such an armour. Any ideas why the this metal armour is called cuirass?
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 11 Mar, 2012 8:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kurt,
There are several threads on this subject. Using the search function and adding to one of those threads would be preferable to having another thread on the same subject.

Happy

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Aldian Connel





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PostPosted: Sun 11 Mar, 2012 8:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some of the early muscle cuirasses may have been made of leather and may have transitioned into bronze and iron from there.

http://www.legionsix.org/Equipment/Basic%20Ge..._armor.htm
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Sun 11 Mar, 2012 10:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok, sorry, I didn't find it at first sight.
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...p;start=22

This thread starts a new perspective on leather armour that so far has lacked discussion, combining it with glass and iron scrap. So in between the leather is glued hard stuff.

If I was to design some armour, I would use a combination of linen, sand and glue with pieces of metal slag in between glue soaked cuir bouilli shaped in the form of the later known cuirass.

So what information do we have on the combination of hard materials themselves unsuitable for armour that can be weaponized in glued leather armour? You can change the title of the thread.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Mar, 2012 3:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aldian Connel wrote:
Some of the early muscle cuirasses may have been made of leather and may have transitioned into bronze and iron from there.

http://www.legionsix.org/Equipment/Basic%20Ge..._armor.htm


There isn't a shred of evidence to suggest that the Roman musculata or segmentata was ever made of leather. There are plenty of threads about this too. And before that time the only armour made of leather is scale/lamellar.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Mar, 2012 3:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kurt Scholz wrote:
Ok, sorry, I didn't find it at first sight.
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...p;start=22

This thread starts a new perspective on leather armour that so far has lacked discussion, combining it with glass and iron scrap. So in between the leather is glued hard stuff.

If I was to design some armour, I would use a combination of linen, sand and glue with pieces of metal slag in between glue soaked cuir bouilli shaped in the form of the later known cuirass.

So what information do we have on the combination of hard materials themselves unsuitable for armour that can be weaponized in glued leather armour? You can change the title of the thread.


Even the so-called "linothorax" didn't use glue in its construction. The only composite example I can think of is some scale armour using combinations of metal and leather scales.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Mar, 2012 7:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This concept makes me think of jacks, which were apparently often stuffed with all sorts of different material that ranged from animal hair to mail. I don't think they ever used glue, though.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Mar, 2012 7:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Composite leather armour?         Reply with quote

Kurt Scholz wrote:
I have a problem associating the Renaissance metal cuirass with any known leather predecessor. Calling leather bodyarmour a cuirass seems reasonable, but I can see nowhere leather armour looking like that. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...030454.jpg
I can imagine that you could achieve such an effect with dried rawhide or cuir bouilli on a wooden form for shaping, but I've seen nowhere such an armour. Any ideas why the this metal armour is called cuirass?


I'm not sure what you're asking. The cuirass you show is centuries later than the first use of the word, and an enormous amount of development and evolution has occurred. Current belief is that the first medieval "cuirass" was a leather torso plate over the mail and under the surcoat. When this item was copied in metal, the original name stuck. Pretty common linguistic event!

To add to what Dan said, solid metal "cuirasses" date well back into the Bronze Age, with no indication that they developed from a leather predecessor (though I would not want to say that was impossible!). The Classical Greeks did indeed have a form of leather armor, but it was completely different from the bronze muscled cuirass.

Quote:
If I was to design some armour, I would use a combination of linen, sand and glue with pieces of metal slag in between glue soaked cuir bouilli shaped in the form of the later known cuirass.


Um, it's nice that you would do that. Do you have any evidence of how things actually *were* done in the middle ages? I'm really puzzled by the sand and slag--sandbags are great for building bunkers, but not sure I'd want to pile them around my body armor! And I was under the impression that slag was UNdesirable, a waste product which weakens metal. The few pieces of medieval leather armor which have survived do not show any layering, as I recall, yet they seem to have been considered adequate by the men who wore them. Why do we need to make up something more complicated?

Matthew
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Brian Robson





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PostPosted: Mon 12 Mar, 2012 3:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are my notes on the 13c Cuirie - which may have been an origin of the word 'Cuirass'.

http://dawnofchivalry.wikispaces.com/Cuirie
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Matthew Bunker




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Mar, 2012 5:02 am    Post subject: Re: Composite leather armour?         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Current belief is that the first medieval "cuirass" was a leather torso plate over the mail and under the surcoat. When this item was copied in metal, the original name stuck.


As an aside, the Norwegian 'King's Mirror' (c. 1250) says that :-
Quote:
Above and next to the body he should Wear a soft gambison, which need not come lower than to the middle of the thigh. Over this he must have a strong breastplate made of good iron covering the body from the nipples to the trousers belt; outside this, a well-made hauberk and over the hauberk a firm gambison made in the manner which I have already described but without sleeves.

( I don't have access to the original Norwegian so would be very interested to know which terms were used for breatplate, gambeson and hauberk)

So, if the earliest attestation for cuire/cuirass etc is early 13th c and iron ones are in use by the mid 13th, I have to wonder if there weren't two distinct terms for them and that the notion of a 'cuirass' being the generic name for a breatplate regardless of material is a later (15th century) development.

"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Mon 12 Mar, 2012 5:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kurt, there was a thread on making hardened leather armour on AA http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB3/viewto...p;t=131492
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Mon 12 Mar, 2012 12:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joseph Jennings wrote:
Matthew Amt wrote:
Joseph Jennings wrote:
From the anglo-saxon period wooden shields were covered with cuir bouilli.


Not to be dragging the thread off-topic, but do you have documentation for this? As I understand it, there is indeed solid evidence for the use of some sort of leather and/or hide, but little is known beyond that. None of the lengthy discussions about possible leather armor use in the Saxon/Viking era has come up with any evidence for the use of hardened leather, that I recall. So anything you have would be valuable!

17th century buff coats were certainly supple, and everything I've seen about Tudor "jerkins" says that they were simply soft leather clothing.

I know the word "cuirass" is generally assumed to derive from the word for "leather", but I'm wondering how certain that is? Is it possible it actually comes from a word for "heart"? Pretty sure I've asked this before, but honestly don't remember if there was a detailed etymological analysis or what.

Matthew


I have found a number of claims that anglo-saxon shields used leather covering, including articles on this site, at

http://www.regia.org/shields.htm
and
http://www.millennia.f2s.com/reconstruction.htm

This is based partially on written descriptions from the period.

Considering that typically only the boss of the shield survives in archaeological sites it is extraordinarily hard to document if this covering was of supple or hardened leather. However, considering (a) the anglo saxons had cuir bouilli technology, and (b) there would have been virtually no reason to leave leather on a shield supple, and considerable advantage to hardening it, it seems reasonable that the leather was hardened.

But that is something of a sideline. The best supporting information for leather armor as a chest piece I have come across was actually linked to in the link above to the previous thread. I will reprint it here:

Index of Middle English Prose
Handlist IX
ASHMOLE 1389 p36
For to make a dowblet of fenste.

Take lether that ys hallf tannyd and dry hym and shaue the flesshe syde and take glue with water and set hyt ower the fyer and melte yt with water and then all hote ly yt apon the lether on the flesshe syde and strawe theron the powder of glaste
bete yn a brasene morter wt fylyne of yrene y mellyd to geder; and then laye a nother pece of the same lether
flesshe syde to flesshe syde and nayle hym to the scyllde and lete hym drye and there nother sper nother e3e tole enter theryn.

This can be interpreted as:

Take two half-tanned hides (Half tanned is generally thinner than normal hides and has an untanned - ie rawhide core), scrape off any loose bits on the flesh side. Mix hot hide-glue with water, crushed glass and iron filings, and glue the hides together, flesh-side to flesh-side. Then nail it to a former to dry. Then sharp stuff won't go through it.
It's thought that the powdered glass and iron filings in the glue will either give a hard, fibre-glass-like layer, or chemically alter the glue to bond better, or the filings will dig into the leather to give a better bond (or possibly all three)

(The above translation and commentary was not mine, but from the original thread).

This seems pretty clear that the English were making armor doublets of laminated leather with an intermediary layer of adhesive, iron filing, and glass particles. While these may have been worn over a hauberk as a sort of proto-cuirass, I think it is likely they may have also been worn in place of more substantial armor by those who would not afford mail. Arms ordinances from 13th century England specifically mention "doublets" for men of an income level below that which could afford mail.

Of course, if we want to really derail things we can debate if the above process constitutes cuir bouillie, or is just a technique of laminating leather. But is seems pretty clear that there were chest pieces in the transitional armor period that were primarily leather.


I was refering to this statement about crushed glass and iron. Slag has properties similar to glass and is used for high strength street plastering for example.
Sand has the same chemical composition as glass. I would use sand only in combination with a glue to fill as much space as possible with hard materials. I was wondering about the glue, you can do without if you use leather/linen, additional fibres glass/slag/iron and stich it like a gambeson/aketon. Something like that being said before. From modern ceramic armour and logical deduction it becomes quite obvious that hard and brittle materials better serve as armour if something elastic encloses them and keeps them in space even if being broken by some energy transfer. Glue would be one option, metal/leather/fibre bands around chunks of hard and brittle struff would be another option. All in all it would be ceramic armour and prove an interesting field of which little is known although it sounds very sensible to me because there's more than enough of such material around and remember the high iron content of pre-industrial slag.

I agree that the bronze cuirass of the Hallstatt and La Tène to the Greek and Roman iron age is an own development and it's a bad choice to call it cuirass. bronze plate armour would be a better choice and the muscled version is just one of the contemporary prototypes of bronze plate armour. If you look at the earlier bronze plate armours the nipples are rather emphasized. So I strongly suspect that this item faced a change of meaning. Another debate is whether the shiny bronze was really thick enough to stop a weapon. If I had to wear this stuff I'd have under the bronze a rawhide and cuir bouilli armour that doesn't overheat me, but enhance the bronze's defensive features.
http://www.lessing-photo.com/p2/070104/07010401.jpg
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Mon 12 Mar, 2012 12:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Kurt Scholz wrote:
Ok, sorry, I didn't find it at first sight.
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...p;start=22

This thread starts a new perspective on leather armour that so far has lacked discussion, combining it with glass and iron scrap. So in between the leather is glued hard stuff.

If I was to design some armour, I would use a combination of linen, sand and glue with pieces of metal slag in between glue soaked cuir bouilli shaped in the form of the later known cuirass.

So what information do we have on the combination of hard materials themselves unsuitable for armour that can be weaponized in glued leather armour? You can change the title of the thread.


Even the so-called "linothorax" didn't use glue in its construction. The only composite example I can think of is some scale armour using combinations of metal and leather scales.


http://www.uwgb.edu/aldreteg/Linothorax.html
Seems like you didn't convince professor Aldrete: http://www.uwgb.edu/aldreteg/LinA.4.jpg
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Mar, 2012 12:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kurt Scholz wrote:
I was refering to this statement about crushed glass and iron. Slag has properties similar to glass and is used for high strength street plastering for example.


Ah, okay, I remember that one. Odd little recipe and I don't recall if anyone had a good explanation of what the purpose or effect of those ingredients was. Street paving is hardly a good comparison to armor, though! Ground glass and slag are added for their ability to resist wear by rubber tires, as I understand it. They aren't really intended to resist penetration by blades.

Quote:
Sand has the same chemical composition as glass.


Yes, but diamond has the same composition as graphite. They won't react the same to weapons! You can push your finger through sand a bit easier than you can push it through a glass window pane.

Quote:
I would use sand only in combination with a glue to fill as much space as possible with hard materials.... All in all it would be ceramic armour...


No, you'd get sand glued together. Ceramic is fired at high temperatures into a very different material. Yes, *modern* armor can include ceramics, but they are very recent and highly sophisticated materials made with processes which simply did not exist in the middle ages. Back then, steel was the best material available for armor, hands down. There was no way to make something comparable for the same cost, let alone the same weight and bulk.

Quote:
If you look at the earlier bronze plate armours the nipples are rather emphasized. So I strongly suspect that this item faced a change of meaning.


It's just a decorative fashion.

Quote:
Another debate is whether the shiny bronze was really thick enough to stop a weapon. If I had to wear this stuff I'd have under the bronze a rawhide and cuir bouilli armour that doesn't overheat me, but enhance the bronze's defensive features.


There's no debate at all: It was VERY good armor, the best of its day. There are many modern books which base ridiculous conclusions on one very bad test from 1963, and conclude that all bronze armor was "ceremonial" or "worthless". Don't fall for it. Recent tests have shown that ancient bronze armor was HIGHLY resistant to any weapon of the day.

http://www.swordforum.com/forums/showthread.p...nd-shields

[/quote]http://www.lessing-photo.com/p2/070104/07010401.jpg[/quote]

Oh, nice bell cuirass! Hadn't seen that one before. If you do a Google Image search on "bell cuirass" and "muscle cuirass", you'll find a lot of neat old pieces, mostly from Greece and Italy. From farther west and north, there are things like the Marmesse cuirasses:

http://jfbradu.free.fr/celtes/les-celtes/cuirasses-marmesse2.jpg

Quote:
http://www.uwgb.edu/aldreteg/Linothorax.html
Seems like you didn't convince professor Aldrete: http://www.uwgb.edu/aldreteg/LinA.4.jpg


Dan, do you want to do the honors, or should I? This would have been a great test 30 years ago, when Peter Connolly first concocted the idea of the glued linen cuirass. But recently is has been shown that the whole interpretation of the "tube and yoke" cuirass shown frequently in Classical Greek artwork as a "linothorax" is probably incorrect. It was more likely a "spolas" made of leather. Layered linen was definitely known and used in some places, but it was apparently just quilted because there is absolutely no basis for gluing. There have been a couple threads on this topic, on this board and others. Had Professor Aldrete read any of them, or done better research instead of looking to prove preconceptions, he would never have bothered testing a glued linen cuirass.

Plus, the one in that photo is way too long! Any vase painting would have shown him that...

Geez, my whole post sounds like I'm beating on you, didn't mean it like that! I just think you're over-thinking some things, or thinking that modern experimentation can establish what was done in ancient times. Looks like you pushed my "debate mode" button, ha!

Vale!

Matthew
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Mar, 2012 2:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Matt. I have my hands full in the warbow thread Happy

To summarize: glued armour = bollocks.
Historical leather was hardened with water and heat, not glue. Sometimes a coating was used to waterproof it but it did nothing to increase strength. There is no evidence in over three thousands years of textile armour that any were ever constructed with glue.
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2012 11:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Kurt Scholz wrote:
I was refering to this statement about crushed glass and iron. Slag has properties similar to glass and is used for high strength street plastering for example.


Ah, okay, I remember that one. Odd little recipe and I don't recall if anyone had a good explanation of what the purpose or effect of those ingredients was. Street paving is hardly a good comparison to armor, though! Ground glass and slag are added for their ability to resist wear by rubber tires, as I understand it. They aren't really intended to resist penetration by blades.

Quote:
Sand has the same chemical composition as glass.


Yes, but diamond has the same composition as graphite. They won't react the same to weapons! You can push your finger through sand a bit easier than you can push it through a glass window pane.

Quote:
I would use sand only in combination with a glue to fill as much space as possible with hard materials.... All in all it would be ceramic armour...


No, you'd get sand glued together. Ceramic is fired at high temperatures into a very different material. Yes, *modern* armor can include ceramics, but they are very recent and highly sophisticated materials made with processes which simply did not exist in the middle ages. Back then, steel was the best material available for armor, hands down. There was no way to make something comparable for the same cost, let alone the same weight and bulk.


Slag is used not only against abrasion, but has been used as most durable underground for laying rails for trams.

I know that sand is not suitable to stop movement, but it's nice to fill space with a material that has the ability to dampen shocks. When you drill or chop stone you always need to take out the powder in the hole because otherwise it dampens the effects of your tool (engine) in modern times. And sand has a volume and is hard to compress while easy to displace. Glued sand would be hard to displace and not easy to compress. Some grindstones are and were constructed this way. Ok, it was just an idea extending the crushed glass concept mentioned in the text.

So it has not been tested. I've been thinking about it and consider glue not very beneficial for such an armour. Rather small bags like in an aketon/gambeson would be better suited and I would even combine these hard materials with the fibres usually stuffed into such armour. The idea has been mentioned before in this thread with pieces of maille. Doing a bit of gluing with this brittle stuff is OK, but you get much more from containing it in a cheap resilient material that keeps the brittle stuff in place even if it gets dusted. Something like small leather bags filled with hard stuff could greatly improve the performance of aforementioned gambesons if they are added to the other fillings.
If I was to combine leather and ceramics I'd again use the small bags filled with hard stuff and use tar or some other stuff to keep it in place while I would rivet/bind two leather single piece cuirasses together with the ceramic bags in between. The advantage of having the ceramics glued would lie in stiffening a shape that enhances glancing off of attacks (depending on the glue).

As a side note on the linothorax, a reenactor mentioned me his theory that they were soaked in water (and was told again about the glue story).
The bronze plate armour weakness gets repeated in archaeological literature, I even had to prepare it for an exam. So the ivory tower seems slow to discharge some things.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2012 12:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I forget the specifics, but there was an islamic document from around the time of Saladin that mentioned the use of an armour made from a paste that hardened from various materials, I think leather was mention and glass as well.

Apparently these were made into plates of some source, and I have no idea if there was widespread use of this.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2012 12:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kurt Scholz wrote:
Slag is used not only against abrasion, but has been used as most durable underground for laying rails for trams.


Okay, but that's still not armor.

Quote:
...I've been thinking about it and consider glue not very beneficial for such an armour. Rather small bags like in an aketon/gambeson would be better suited and I would even combine these hard materials with the fibres usually stuffed into such armour. The idea has been mentioned before in this thread with pieces of maille. Doing a bit of gluing with this brittle stuff is OK, but you get much more from containing it in a cheap resilient material that keeps the brittle stuff in place even if it gets dusted. Something like small leather bags filled with hard stuff could greatly improve the performance of aforementioned gambesons if they are added to the other fillings.
If I was to combine leather and ceramics I'd again use the small bags filled with hard stuff and use tar or some other stuff to keep it in place while I would rivet/bind two leather single piece cuirasses together with the ceramic bags in between. The advantage of having the ceramics glued would lie in stiffening a shape that enhances glancing off of attacks (depending on the glue).


Sorry, at this point you've lost me. What are you trying to accomplish? I just tend to see things from a historical viewpoint, based on available evidence, and you've gone WAY beyond anything like that!

Quote:
The bronze plate armour weakness gets repeated in archaeological literature, I even had to prepare it for an exam. So the ivory tower seems slow to discharge some things.


Yes indeed! There's an entire book on Bronze Age warfare (called, surprisingly, "Bronze Age Warfare") which seems extremely reluctant to admit that warfare actually occurred in the Bronze Age. It was nice for the authors to be able to dismiss the huge amount of surviving armor as "useless", because then they could conclude that ancient people didn't REALLY spend much time hitting each other, instead they all just dressed up in "parade armor" (carrying huge numbers of "clumsy" weapons) and had ceremonies. No one actually got hurt. But if they did have to fight, leather armor must have been much better.... Yeah, mythbusting is a full-time hobby! The funniest part is that some authors say that a piece of armor was "much too thin and flimsy" to be effective, while others will claim that the SAME PIECE is "much too heavy and cumbersome" to be used in battle! Sorry, now I'm frothing...

Matthew
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2012 1:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I have a problem associating the Renaissance metal cuirass with any known leather predecessor. Calling leather bodyarmour a cuirass seems reasonable, but I can see nowhere leather armour looking like that. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...030454.jpg
I can imagine that you could achieve such an effect with dried rawhide or cuir bouilli on a wooden form for shaping, but I've seen nowhere such an armour. Any ideas why the this metal armour is called cuirass?


What am I missing? A 19th century cuirassiers armour, several centuries past the renaissance , and how over 2000 plus years did a 19th century cuirassiers armour decend from a bronze era cuirass. Is that the question? All this stuff about sand, glass, glue, pavement and smelting leavings is making this a little hard to follow.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2012 1:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:

Yes indeed! There's an entire book on Bronze Age warfare (called, surprisingly, "Bronze Age Warfare") which seems extremely reluctant to admit that warfare actually occurred in the Bronze Age. It was nice for the authors to be able to dismiss the huge amount of surviving armor as "useless", because then they could conclude that ancient people didn't REALLY spend much time hitting each other, instead they all just dressed up in "parade armor" (carrying huge numbers of "clumsy" weapons) and had ceremonies. No one actually got hurt. But if they did have to fight, leather armor must have been much better.... Yeah, mythbusting is a full-time hobby! The funniest part is that some authors say that a piece of armor was "much too thin and flimsy" to be effective, while others will claim that the SAME PIECE is "much too heavy and cumbersome" to be used in battle! Sorry, now I'm frothing...

Add to that the deliberate misuse of what evidence we do have. One example is the Osprey book The Mycenaeans by Nicolas Grguric who misuses Cole's experiment to "prove" how useless bronze armour was. Grguric claimed that the experiment used 3mm bronze plate when in reality the experiment used 0.3mm copper plate! There are no shields made from pure copper and the only plate as thin as 0.3mm are metal facings over the outside of wood and leather shields. There are some greaves this thin but it is likely that they were also layered over something more substantial like layered linen.
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