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Gehrig JonLou




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Jul, 2014 10:00 pm    Post subject: Test for Layered Linen Armor Concept on Living Human Subject         Reply with quote

Initial test to show concept of layered linen armor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ysi1DTkFXR8 There will be more tests trying to find the limits of this sort of defense. Also feel free to see the other videos of my channel wherein I do cutting tests with a bronze sword (so far).

From the video description: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!! SOMEONE WILL DIE!! MANY MORE WILL BE HOSPITALIZED... seriously don't... there are many factors that determine how this turns out... please don't take the chance on yourself or your friends, it took me a good deal of research and experimentation to get to this point.

Here we address a few issues first concerning the nature of arms and armor testing. That blows should be appropriate to as they would be in combat and that the test medium should be on a platform that simulates a standing human as much as possible. Notably that people should avoid "execution style" blows and stick to "in combat" blows.

We then get to the fun part about testing layered linen on my actual live person, with nothing more than a folded thin linen tunic to protect me. I truly hope it is clear how hard I was hitting myself... a big red bruise was left under the point of impact, and I'm not being a pansy... that many hard blows with real steel and bronze points through armor is still quite painful.

The weapons tested include my personal quality steel viking utility knife, a bronze spearhead from Master Neil Burridge, A Greek Dory Style Spearhead done in carbon steel from windlass steelcrafts, a crossbow bolt with a modern steel head, the Ewart Park Bronze sword (as seen in previous videos) also by Neil Burridge of www.bronze-age-swords.com , then a Medieval Dagger done in high carbon steel from Master Bladesmith Atar of www.atar.com , and lastly a Carbon steel Viking Seax also from Windlass Steelcrafts.

A brief discussions about who used this sort of armor and why was included though I imagine more on this will come up next time. I also reiterated that Classic Ancient Greeks did NOT use this sort of armor and linen armor was NOT glued but layered and quilted.

For more tests on this sort of armor please see the link below. Note that this armor is apparently excellent at protecting it's wearer from arrows. Many of the other weapons make it through for a variety of reasons... I suspect the primary reason is that they are using "execution style" blows rather than "in combat" blows.

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=11131

And for a discussion on the nature of linen armor feel free to see this excellent thread
http://www.romanarmytalk.com/19-greek-militar...polas.html

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jul, 2014 12:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Page five of that RAT thread was where I was converted. Pretty much all of the Greek sources that mention linen armour are actually talking about other cultures, not Greeks. It seems the classical Greek tube and yoke armour was actually made of leather, not linen. There are a couple of Greek layered linen examples dating to the Bronze Age but they are poorly documented.

I'm not sure there is any point jumping the gun and performing weapons tests until way more research is done on how these armours were made in the first place. The type of weave, the number of layers, and the degree of quilting can all make a significant difference in the armour's ability to stop weapons.

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Gehrig JonLou




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jul, 2014 12:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I loved your book by the way!

It seems that linen armor was indeed used by several cultures in ancient periods. The evidence that they were used by the Myceneans is substantial (though not perfect) and there are accounts of them being used by several others in the bronze and iron ages as you know... and is in your book. Of course layered linen armor is used and its layers better documented in the medieval period for certain. So these experiments apply in later period contexts as well. Personally I have experimented with several different layer numbers as well as weaves, I find this one to be quite impressive as its a fairly thin cloth yet performs very well.

I have asked and searched around but I have found no evidence that glued linen was ever a historical armor form, I have also heard arguments that while glued linen does have defensive value (as tests have shown) the defensive capability is made less not more by gluing the layers rather than just by quilting them. Then there is the issue of water soluble period glues being worn by sweaty men on campaign... and the occasional rain.

As for medieval linen jacks I have seen some documentation that 10 layers was commonly worn under chain armor, and sometimes over it as well. Then I have seen documentation that 25 (with top layer of leather or deerskin) and 30 layer jacks were popular during the high middle ages to defend against high powered crossbows and English Heavy Longbows. I have seen some accounts declaring that earlier period versions varied from about 10 to 20 (not having such high powered bows to defend against requiring the extra layers).

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Gregg Sobocinski




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jul, 2014 7:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's recent work from someone who believes the ancient Greeks did use linen armor.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/joshuar...l?mobify=0
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Gehrig JonLou




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jul, 2014 8:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have seen that article and I've also seen the video of their work. None the less, I recommend you to the above link in the Roman Army Talks discussing linen armor and the true nature of the "Spolas" which was also almost certainly mostly leather, perhaps with one layer of white linen on the face to protect it from rot.

It is true that Alexander the Great did have a layered linen armor curiass... however it is described as quilted, not glued, and it was from his spoils at the battle of Issus. It was indeed a foreign armor form not a native Greek one.

The article paints an inaccurate picture of the linen economy in Greece of the period. Linen was a very expensive fabric requiring a great deal of time, money, and effort to make... making the quantity of linen used in a layered linen suit prohibitively expensive. Also, while laminated linen was a thing there is no evidence it was used for armor... and even in their experiment they use rabbit glue which is not waterproof at all and would be a mess after any rain exposure.

On the contrary leather was much more abundant in Greece from the frequent sacrifices and diet. Vastly less expensive and sufficient in protection as armor. Though not as good as layered linen, far more cost effective and sufficient in efficacy making it the more efficient option of the time.

I plan on doing some videos discussing leather armor in the future as well by the way.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jul, 2014 9:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting video, and as you say " Don't do this at home " Wink

How did you pre-test this so that you would know that the linen layers would be enough to protect you from the pointy bits ?

I guess the idea of doing it on yourself was to find out how painful a non-penetrating stab would be and how much of a bruise you would get the next day ?

I also wonder how " committed "a blow you could make as your conscious mind would probably have you stab with considerable speed and force, but your subconscious mind, and survival instincts, might force a bit of deceleration of the stab just before contact even if you honestly tried hard to not slow down just before impact ?

Also as the bruising and pain accumulated going full out would get more difficult without flinching.

Next time you might still use the same method as it does mean having the actual resistance and elasticity of a human torso behind the linen layers, but maybe add something extra like a thick phone book to take the pain and some of the danger out of it so that you might be able to stab a little harder, maybe ?

Oh, did the linen show any penetration or cutting of the first few layers ?

Like you mention tactically sound stabs that would be used in a fight are more representative than all out bashing at maximum force that might penetrate a test target rigidly held in place.

Also, I think the chicken is really dead by now so you can safely untie it from the post without any fear that it will seak revenge. Wink Big Grin Cool

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Gehrig JonLou




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Jul, 2014 12:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, the idea came to me while I was researching various period forms of armor... in particular the thread I link above about the linen and chain armor tests. I researched the appropriate number of layers and then started light and then slowly increased the force... eventually I realized this could take real blows and that I could indeed hit hard enough to bruise through the armor with no damage to the fabric. I then tried with various point types. The original idea was just to slowly increase force until the fabric started ripping to see what was really possible on an actual human being. I figured it was a "put your money where your mouth is" situation. Turns out it takes a great deal of force to get through 16 layers of tightly laid linen.

Mind you this has "failed" before... I once did this with an old worn linen tunic I used to fight in regularly and wash frequently... it had a looser weave and had been in my car for weeks, drying and heating... and even then I dealt myself maybe ten blows and pricked myself twice... blows that would normally have gone very deep barely broke skin... which is another point. Even if someone did hit hard enough to penetrate such armor the wound would be much less severe.

Again, I had prewarmed up before the video starting light and ramping up to heavier blows to overcome this very issue. To show my conscious mind that it was in fact safe. There was no slowing before impact... unfortunately the sound of the impacts did not carry to the cameras mic but the person holding the camera was quite disturbed by the loud thudding.

A major reason why I transfered to the leg was to give my chest a break. You also see me select a different part of my chest at one point so I can hit fresh flesh so I don't lighten the blow due to pain from tenderized flesh.

Coming up I plan to do another video like this one but with the layered linen strapped to a pork shoulder, complete with skin and bone strapped to my pell... the purpose of course being to push the limits of this armor. Especially in comparison to the previous videos of cutting tests I've done with no armor.

Again, the strange thing about this was that there is no marring of even the top layer of the linen. There seems to be a very powerful distribution of force effect here. Another upcoming project is going to be doing layered linen with a top and maybe also middle layer of silk along with the linen. Would have been rare and expensive but I theorize significantly more effective as armor.

Also apparently Alan Williams has done substantial testing on similar armor forms and by his test results the energy required to cut through layers of linen with a sword was thus: 100J=5 layers, 120J for 9, 140J for 16, 160J for 23, 180J for 26. While thrusting through it required 50J to get through with a spear... while it only took 30J to get through 5mm thick hardened leather armor. Mind you such tests cannot be taken at face value... there are too many variables: sharpness of the blade edge, angle of the point, weight of the weapon, weight and strength of the person holding the weapon, technique of the person holding the weapon, quality of the weapon material, etc.. But it gives us an impression and baseline. But the point is it's tough to get through.

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Jul, 2014 2:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gehrig JonLou wrote:
I have seen that article and I've also seen the video of their work. None the less, I recommend you to the above link in the Roman Army Talks discussing linen armor and the true nature of the "Spolas" which was also almost certainly mostly leather, perhaps with one layer of white linen on the face to protect it from rot.

Unlikely. Linen rots faster than leather. Historically, whenever leather is incorpoated with linen armour, the leather is on the outside as a cover to protect it. People falsely assume that just because Greek armour is depicted as white in their illustrations then they must have used linen. There are many problems with this line of reasoning (the main one being that most of their illustrations were monochrome; another is that linen isn't white unless it is bleached). Assuming that their armour really was white, Athens had a large export industry making white leather shoes from alum tawed leather. There is no reason not to conclude that they could have made the spolas from the same material.

Regarding Aldrete and his team's work, there are five fundamental problems.

1. All of the sources he cites for Greek linen armour are actually talking about foreigners using linen armour. What little evidence we have about their tube and yoke armour suggests that it is made of leather, not linen.

2. Layered textile armour has been used in battle for at least three thousand years all over the world from the Americas to Europe to Asia. There are dozens and dozens of extant examples and many descriptions of how it is made in various texts. Every single one is quilted. There isn't a shred of evidence to suggest that glue has ever been used to make layered textile armour in all of that three thousand year history.

3. They rely on outdated hypothesis by Connolly who suggested that glue may have been used to make their linen armour because their shoulder flaps appear to be "springy" in some illustrations. Firstly, properly quilted linen is just as springy and rigid as glued linen (take a look at kendo arm guards). Secondly, we now know that those shoulder flaps were more likely made of leather, and not linen at all.

4. His team didn't bother to examine any of the multitude of extant examples of textile armour and so their quilted test pieces are woefully substandard compared to how real textile armour was made. They predictably come to the false conclusion that their fancy glued construction was more protective than quilted armour. When the quilting is properly done then a good case can be made for quilting actually providing better protection than glue.

5. They overbuild their reconstruction. If they really wanted to reproduce Hellenistic linen armour then they should not have made it so thick that it was arrowproof. Pausanias said that linen armour was better for hunting because it was susceptible to a strong weapon thrust, and Alexander was almost killed by an arrow that punched through his linen armour.

Their experiments regarding glued linen are actually well thought out and carefully documented, but ultimately it was a pointless squandering of resources until someone comes up with evidence that historical armour was ever made like this. It would have been far more useful if they put those resources to examining how various types of quilted armour performed. Hopefully, Gehrig, your work will help redress this.

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Last edited by Dan Howard on Sun 20 Jul, 2014 3:01 am; edited 2 times in total
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Eric S




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Jul, 2014 2:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
There isn't a shred of evidence to suggest that glue has never been used to make layered textile armour in all of that three thousand year history.

Dan, did you mean "ever" instead of "never".
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Jul, 2014 2:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric S wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
There isn't a shred of evidence to suggest that glue has never been used to make layered textile armour in all of that three thousand year history.

Dan, did you mean "ever" instead of "never".


Yep. Happy Thanks for the correction, I'll edit it.

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William P




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Jul, 2014 3:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

interestingly, matt eastoon from scholagladiatoria has found that there are examples of even something as simple as a greatcat resisting custs and thrusts from swords in the crimean war, and even something as simple as a turban resisting sword cuts in india..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQDr13TyLJ8&list=UUt14YOvYhd5FCGCwcjhrOdA it shows that even lighter cloth not even a dedicated layered armour can still be fairly formidable against strikes..
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Jul, 2014 4:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yep. Pretty much anything will stop a sword cut. If you want to test armour you need to use points - sword thrusts, spears, and arrows.
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William P




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Jul, 2014 10:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Yep. Pretty much anything will stop a sword cut. If you want to test armour you need to use points - sword thrusts, spears, and arrows.
and if you are to test cuts, one needs to use the proper technique, especially there is need to employ more of a draw cut while striking to help slice through the fabric.
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Gehrig JonLou




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Jul, 2014 11:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are two videos demonstrating my cutting technique which will be applied to future armor tests with straight and leaf bladed weapons. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Smr0dBZPPH4
and more importantly on raw pork human analog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJUIsTQ6eGs

You can see that the blows bite into the targets well. I have done draw cuts on the layered linen and it finds little purchase... however weapons with sharp curving blades that naturally draw cut as part of typical full force sword cuts do perform particularly well against layered linen armor... I have heard it speculated that this is a major reason for the popularity of the falchion in the late middle ages, specifically to deal with this type of armor as it became more prolific. See my above links in the OP for a discussion on this relating to tests on layered linen (done with "execution blows" on an unpadded pell, imperfect testing but still yielding very useful information).

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Jul, 2014 11:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We have a few sites where skeletons have been recovered with battle damage. The main one is Wisby but there are quite a number of others and more being recovered all the time. When these were examined to see where the injuries were inflicted, we find very few instances of wounds to the torso (zero at Wisby). This tells us either that nobody ever aimed for the torso - perhaps because of shields) or that torso armour was basically proof against the weapons of the day. In either case, chopping at body armour with a sword probably won't tell us a lot about how people fought on the battlefield. The overwhelming majority of wounds seem to be to the legs and head.
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Mike O'Hara




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Jul, 2014 2:05 am    Post subject: Injuries - Towton         Reply with quote

Similar to Dan's comments, Blood Red Roses, which covers forensic archaeology from the Battle of Towton suggest the majority of strikes to head and hands/arms, especially right arm.

The authors note
"Possible explanations for the lack of torso wounds at Towton include the adequate protection provided by the brigandine and padded jackets, that the torso was not a target of attack, or that only soft tissue wounds occurred here and were not reflected in the bone"

They contrast the lack of torso injuries with damage found to ribs and vertebrae in other skeletal remains examined from churchyards.

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Gehrig JonLou




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Jul, 2014 2:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh indeed... most of the blows go for the head, neck or limbs. Especially in the case of shields. I mentioned body blows to show that the blow mechanics are flexible Happy

Indeed, I saw a lovely study that came out recently that had the percentage of blow locations on several medieval mass graves. From my experience in armored full speed (and force) sword and shield martial arts I have also found this to be true. Blows of killing force to the body are quite rare in my experience... the exception being thrusts, but even those are uncommon compared to blows and thrusts to the head and face.

Eventually I'd love to do some testing on pig heads for just this reason. But for now the pork should is a decent human limb analog.

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Gehrig JonLou




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jul, 2014 9:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Does anyone happen to have a link to that article about the blow locations on the skeletons of medieval battlefield remains? Also, any advice for how and where one might be able to buy a pigs head or comparable human head analog of similar quality? (also how much?)
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jul, 2014 10:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think we should be careful about using skeletal remains as a base for what areas of the body historical soldiers targeted. The Towton skeletons in particular likely come from more of an execution than a battle. Also note that sword-armed cavalry in pursuit for routed foes commonly targeted the head and neck almost exclusively.
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PostPosted: Sat 02 Aug, 2014 5:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Also note that sword-armed cavalry in pursuit for routed foes commonly targeted the head and neck almost exclusively.


On the other hand, the pursuit was when the vast majority of casualties were inflicted in historical battles that involved a great deal of hand-to-hand fighting -- far more than in the main phase of the fighting itself. This alone is enough to cast significant doubt upon the idea of using battlefield remains to extrapolate "targeting" habits in actual fighting.
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