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Benjamin Floyd II

Joined: 13 Dec 2008

Posts: 82

PostPosted: Tue 18 Sep, 2012 5:12 am    Post subject: Leather armor         Reply with quote

Another thread about leather armor! Yay!

More pics:

Arms protection - XIVc. original
The excavations in the medieval part of Tartu in 2000 brought to light an amazing find from a timber-curbed cesspit (latrine) two wholly preserved leather guards for lower arm, vambraces, strengthened with rows of iron strips and rivets, were discovered. Their leather part is well preserved, some damage can be observed only near elbow. Since the left arm guard was tucked into the right one, it was in somewhat better condition (Figs. 4a, 4b; 5a, b). The prolonged stay in the compact latrine contents had compressed them flat.The conservation of the arm guards was carried out in the laboratory for geoarchaeology and ancient technology of the Institute of History. Before conservation the find was X-ray-photographed (Fig. 6) and the outline of the location of its details was drawn. To eliminate chlorides from metal and leather the find was soaked in distilled water for about six weeks, replacing water every week. The arm guards softened to some extent in water and were easily detached from each other without damaging metal details. At the elbow of the left arm guard fungous and bacterial damage could be observed, as a result of which a part of leather was destroyed (Figs. 4a, 4b). The damage on the right arm guard was of a smaller extent leather was wholly preserved but considerably darkened and deformed. In the damage of leather the chemical effect of the environment also played an important role. The complete rusting of iron details was evidently advanced by the high acidity of the leather. After the elimination/removal of chlorides the armour details were soaked in the solution of PEG 400 with ethanol additive during three weeks to compensate to some extent the decrease of tannin in leather. Owing to the prolonged soaking of arm guards in water and PEG solution they somewhat softened and it became possible partly to restore their original shape. Iron details were mechanically cleaned. Loose details were glued to their places with acetone glue made of acrylic polymer Paraloid B-72. Next, metal was treated with water solution of tannin with the addition of ethanol and a little ortophosphoric acid. Beeswax softened to creamy consistence in turpentine was used to cover the metal details treated with tannin solution. The arm guards from Tartu are most likely made of thicker skin of horse's withers in the technique of cuir bouilli (boiled leather). Stiff objects with persistent shape are made of leather tanned with tannic substances (herbal tanning) by scalding it at 7590 oC in water trough. After drying the shape of the object will persist but leather loses its elasticity, becomes stiff and hard, while the shrinking is low owing to the saturation with tannins. The leather parts of the arm guards of Tartu were probably made in this way. First the craftsman cut the blanks from tanned leather. Then the process of cuir bouilli and the shaping of arm guards followed, after which they were most likely left to dry on a special last. Then metal details were riveted to the leather base steel strips alternately with rows of rivets, and also buckles. Arm guards were most likely also treated with wax or grease (evidently repeatedly throughout the period of their use) to make them weatherproof. The reason why completely whole arm guards were discarded will remain uncertain, as well as the place of their manufacture and, of course, the armourer who made them. The possible place of manufacture may be Tartu or Tallinn, or perhaps some German town. For example in Tallinn arm guards for upper and lower arms, evidently made of leather (Armleder, Actearmleder), are mentioned among the defence equipment distributed by town authorities to males in about 1360. Since the find from Tartu is the first discovery of medieval leather arm guards in Europe, it is quite difficult to define them temporally and typologically. Only medieval works of art, where warriors and their armours are sometimes drawn quite in detail, can be used for a comparable source. On the basis of works of art, preserved primarily in Germany, we may presume that analogous arm guards were used already in 1330s, but the closest parallels to the Tartu find date from the final decades of the 14th century. It is possible that such vambraces were sporadically still used at the beginning of the 15th century. The rare leather arm guards are stored in the Town Museum
of Tartu (A-115:1209 and A-115:1265).


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Elling Polden

Location: Bergen, Norway
Joined: 19 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Sep, 2012 6:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Iron stips riveted to leather is a relatively well known form of defence in the late middle ages. However, it can be argued that the armour effect here is primarily the iron strips, with the leather to keep it in place.

I belive this is what the victorians would call splint armour? s there a current term?

"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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Dan Howard

Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Tue 18 Sep, 2012 2:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah it is still called splnt armour and is a cool find but I wouldn't class it as leather armour either.
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