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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,436

PostPosted: Sun 22 May, 2016 6:15 am    Post subject: cost/ construction methods for ancient helmets (roman/greek)         Reply with quote

so, basic question, how were helmets in greece, all the way through to the era of the middle/ late roman ridge helmets of constantines age

made?

in http://www.larp.com/legioxx/spunhlm.html this legioxx article it's mentioned we have some spun bronze roman helms, were greek helms made the same way? i mean the more normal types like chalcidan, pilos and corinthian since a boetian or a thracian would clearly have been forged considering the complex shape

from the ones we have generally how often were they forged, how often were they spun... and when did we start seeing evidence of spun bronze helmets

and what does that mean in terms of cost especially when we get to the era of iron helmets in the empire as wel as more and more iron helmets in hellinistic armies?

just trying to get a good overview of helmets and how costly they were etc, to give an idea how they could have been as widely accessible they were to armies of greek, carthaginian, and roman troopers..

would they have been as widely used in the armies of celtic and germanic forces?
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sun 22 May, 2016 10:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You don't want much, do you? Several completely contradictory books could be written on the subject!

To start with the easy part, for Celts and Germanics, helmet cost was irrelevant. They were expensive enough that the vast majority of warriors didn't have them.

For Late Archaic and Early Classical Greece, it's a similar answer: If you could afford a helmet, you had one. But of course the whole system of military service was built around the idea of the men with the money being the armored hoplites. There was certainly some gray area, and a some cases of state-issued equipment pretty early on. And it does seem that poorer men also served in the phalanx (not just as cheap light bobs chucking rocks and javelins)--apparently they were equipped by wealthy patrons or their landlords. So they do seem to have had at least minimal equipment, and likely helmets as well.

Up to that point, say mid-5th century BC (between Persian and Peloponnesian Wars), all helmets were hammered from bronze. There's a lot of talk and assumption about cast helmets, or cast "blanks" hammered to final shape, much of which simply doesn't hold up technically. Yes, any bronze item starts with a casting of some sort, but it is very clear to people who have made a lot of helmets that Corinthian helmets were hammered. What we see as very thick nasals are often thin with turned edges, while some have a heavier reinforcement either riveted into place or even *cast in place*. That was a pretty common technique back then.

Spinning first seems to show up with the simple pilos or "bell" helmet, around the time of the Peloponnesian Wars (late fifth century). They haven't been studied carefully enough, yet, but that article I quoted on my spun Roman helmet webpage mentions a number of surviving pilos helmets that are all perfectly round in plan and surprisingly uniform in size. So, spun! (Which makes it very frustrating to me that some company in India isn't cranking these bad boys out for 50 bucks a pop!)

These helmets seem to coincide with a growing use of mercenaries, and *possibly* with a general "lightening" of hoplite gear in general for many men. (I'm not entirely convinced of the latter point, since it is only a good 30 years *after* the Peloponnesian War that Iphikrates is credited with re-equipping hoplites to give them lighter equipment. Replacing the heavy bronze armor with linen is specifically mentioned--why should that be necessary if cuirasses had already gone away? And since it seems clear that Iphikrates' ideas were never universally adopted, that tells us that the traditional "heavy" equipment continued.) In any case, the pilos helmet becomes common in archeology and artwork. BUT more elaborate and enclosed types also remain in use. Phrygian helmets are more complex than Corinthians, and just as enclosing.

There is a LOT of ink spilled about how open helmets (and lighter or less armor) are such an IMPROVEMENT over the Corinthian helmet. Most of it ignores the fact that several other types of enclose helmets were in use long after the Corinthian was gone. AND that most open helmets through history have been criticized by modern writers as not being as protective as enclosed ones! Gads... Obviously the true reasons behind helmet development are very complex, and include protection, fashion, heat, cost, and fashion again, for starters. You don't bother making cheap helmets for aristocrats, nor was perfect hearing and vision a big deal for the first few hundred years of phalanx warfare! Lining up shoulder-to-shoulder and going forwards just doesn't require superior situational awareness, eh?

A bronze helmet of some sort seems to have been standard equipment for the Hellenistic spearman or pikeman. Whether it was directly purchased by the soldier, or issued by his employer, or whether the cost came from his pay over time, I don't know. There might be no good information about that. And that's what we're seeing in artwork--it's not like we've dug up a bunch of fully-stocked arsenals or anything. The Greeks were not conveniently chucking all kinds of good stuff into rivers and bogs like the Romans did, so a bronze helmet would be used as long as someone wanted to use it, then eventually melted down for its metal. I've seen a couple that served as cookpots or buckets, too.

Iron helmets (and armor) first start showing up in Greek areas in the 4th century BC, and mostly in royal or aristocratic tombs. I'm not sure if iron helmets were ever *common* among Hellenistic grunt troops. But then even the Romans did not get heavily into iron helmets until the first century AD, which is well after the Hellenistic era was over. Sure, the Romans had plenty of iron mail before then, and other iron things as well, but copper alloys were a staple of helmet production well into the 2nd century AD. Many of those were spun, some were not. Iron helmets were always hammered, since spinning technology wasn't up to things like slag inclusions in the iron. (It wasn't about heat or hardness!)

Whether a spun brass or bronze helmet is cheaper than a hammered iron one, I couldn't tell ya! Couldn't tell you if the Romans cared about that or not, either, since equipment costs were passed on to the troops (via payroll deductions). So much just depends on what the economy and infrastructure have developed to produce, which may not have been because of deliberate choices.

But equipping a standing professional army backed by an empire is a vastly different thing from a city-state requiring its monied classes to equip themselves for military service. A hoplite might have an armorer come to his estate to take measurements for a new cuirass. Or he might browse the agora trying on helmets to find one that he likes and that fits nicely. Or have the armorer tweak and embellish a particular "off the shelf" cuirass to fit and look better. We frankly don't know! The Roman empire wanted its troops equipped cheaply and efficiently, though NOT so cheaply that they didn't have more armor than any other army! The contractors making the stuff wanted to keep their profit margins as large as possible. The officers wanted the troops to have something to polish and maintain. The troops wanted it LIGHT and comfortable. Whose priorities took priority? We don't always know.

Does that question enough of your answers for starters?

Matthew
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

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PostPosted: Mon 23 May, 2016 12:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
You don't want much, do you? Several completely contradictory books could be written on the subject!

To start with the easy part, for Celts and Germanics, helmet cost was irrelevant. They were expensive enough that the vast majority of warriors didn't have them.

For Late Archaic and Early Classical Greece, it's a similar answer: If you could afford a helmet, you had one. But of course the whole system of military service was built around the idea of the men with the money being the armored hoplites. There was certainly some gray area, and a some cases of state-issued equipment pretty early on. And it does seem that poorer men also served in the phalanx (not just as cheap light bobs chucking rocks and javelins)--apparently they were equipped by wealthy patrons or their landlords. So they do seem to have had at least minimal equipment, and likely helmets as well.

Up to that point, say mid-5th century BC (between Persian and Peloponnesian Wars), all helmets were hammered from bronze. There's a lot of talk and assumption about cast helmets, or cast "blanks" hammered to final shape, much of which simply doesn't hold up technically. Yes, any bronze item starts with a casting of some sort, but it is very clear to people who have made a lot of helmets that Corinthian helmets were hammered. What we see as very thick nasals are often thin with turned edges, while some have a heavier reinforcement either riveted into place or even *cast in place*. That was a pretty common technique back then.

Spinning first seems to show up with the simple pilos or "bell" helmet, around the time of the Peloponnesian Wars (late fifth century). They haven't been studied carefully enough, yet, but that article I quoted on my spun Roman helmet webpage mentions a number of surviving pilos helmets that are all perfectly round in plan and surprisingly uniform in size. So, spun! (Which makes it very frustrating to me that some company in India isn't cranking these bad boys out for 50 bucks a pop!)

These helmets seem to coincide with a growing use of mercenaries, and *possibly* with a general "lightening" of hoplite gear in general for many men. (I'm not entirely convinced of the latter point, since it is only a good 30 years *after* the Peloponnesian War that Iphikrates is credited with re-equipping hoplites to give them lighter equipment. Replacing the heavy bronze armor with linen is specifically mentioned--why should that be necessary if cuirasses had already gone away? And since it seems clear that Iphikrates' ideas were never universally adopted, that tells us that the traditional "heavy" equipment continued.) In any case, the pilos helmet becomes common in archeology and artwork. BUT more elaborate and enclosed types also remain in use. Phrygian helmets are more complex than Corinthians, and just as enclosing.

There is a LOT of ink spilled about how open helmets (and lighter or less armor) are such an IMPROVEMENT over the Corinthian helmet. Most of it ignores the fact that several other types of enclose helmets were in use long after the Corinthian was gone. AND that most open helmets through history have been criticized by modern writers as not being as protective as enclosed ones! Gads... Obviously the true reasons behind helmet development are very complex, and include protection, fashion, heat, cost, and fashion again, for starters. You don't bother making cheap helmets for aristocrats, nor was perfect hearing and vision a big deal for the first few hundred years of phalanx warfare! Lining up shoulder-to-shoulder and going forwards just doesn't require superior situational awareness, eh?

A bronze helmet of some sort seems to have been standard equipment for the Hellenistic spearman or pikeman. Whether it was directly purchased by the soldier, or issued by his employer, or whether the cost came from his pay over time, I don't know. There might be no good information about that. And that's what we're seeing in artwork--it's not like we've dug up a bunch of fully-stocked arsenals or anything. The Greeks were not conveniently chucking all kinds of good stuff into rivers and bogs like the Romans did, so a bronze helmet would be used as long as someone wanted to use it, then eventually melted down for its metal. I've seen a couple that served as cookpots or buckets, too.

Iron helmets (and armor) first start showing up in Greek areas in the 4th century BC, and mostly in royal or aristocratic tombs. I'm not sure if iron helmets were ever *common* among Hellenistic grunt troops. But then even the Romans did not get heavily into iron helmets until the first century AD, which is well after the Hellenistic era was over. Sure, the Romans had plenty of iron mail before then, and other iron things as well, but copper alloys were a staple of helmet production well into the 2nd century AD. Many of those were spun, some were not. Iron helmets were always hammered, since spinning technology wasn't up to things like slag inclusions in the iron. (It wasn't about heat or hardness!)

Whether a spun brass or bronze helmet is cheaper than a hammered iron one, I couldn't tell ya! Couldn't tell you if the Romans cared about that or not, either, since equipment costs were passed on to the troops (via payroll deductions). So much just depends on what the economy and infrastructure have developed to produce, which may not have been because of deliberate choices.

But equipping a standing professional army backed by an empire is a vastly different thing from a city-state requiring its monied classes to equip themselves for military service. A hoplite might have an armorer come to his estate to take measurements for a new cuirass. Or he might browse the agora trying on helmets to find one that he likes and that fits nicely. Or have the armorer tweak and embellish a particular "off the shelf" cuirass to fit and look better. We frankly don't know! The Roman empire wanted its troops equipped cheaply and efficiently, though NOT so cheaply that they didn't have more armor than any other army! The contractors making the stuff wanted to keep their profit margins as large as possible. The officers wanted the troops to have something to polish and maintain. The troops wanted it LIGHT and comfortable. Whose priorities took priority? We don't always know.

Does that question enough of your answers for starters?

Matthew

Why did you mention fashion twice? Was most bronze age warfare ritual and ceremony? Also, how did people wear pilos helmets? No one's head is perfectly round.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Mon 23 May, 2016 6:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
Why did you mention fashion twice?


Fashion counts at least twice! Wanna know the real difference between a Chalcidean helmet, a Roman Imperial-Gallic Type F, an Intercisa helmet, and a 17th century lobster tail? Appearance! Not a lot else.

Quote:
Was most bronze age warfare ritual and ceremony?


Well, sure, but that's true right through the 18th century at least. It was also brutal, savage, very serious, and fought with very highly refined lethal weapons by highly trained and motivated remorseless killers.

Quote:
Also, how did people wear pilos helmets? No one's head is perfectly round.


Wear it over a felt pilos, or some kind of lining. Add a chin tie, and it'll be fine. Some Roman Coolus helmets are round, too. Worked for them!

Matthew
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Tue 24 May, 2016 7:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
You don't want much, do you? Several completely contradictory books could be written on the subject!

To start with the easy part, for Celts and Germanics, helmet cost was irrelevant. They were expensive enough that the vast majority of warriors didn't have them.

For Late Archaic and Early Classical Greece, it's a similar answer: If you could afford a helmet, you had one. But of course the whole system of military service was built around the idea of the men with the money being the armored hoplites. There was certainly some gray area, and a some cases of state-issued equipment pretty early on. And it does seem that poorer men also served in the phalanx (not just as cheap light bobs chucking rocks and javelins)--apparently they were equipped by wealthy patrons or their landlords. So they do seem to have had at least minimal equipment, and likely helmets as well.

Up to that point, say mid-5th century BC (between Persian and Peloponnesian Wars), all helmets were hammered from bronze. There's a lot of talk and assumption about cast helmets, or cast "blanks" hammered to final shape, much of which simply doesn't hold up technically. Yes, any bronze item starts with a casting of some sort, but it is very clear to people who have made a lot of helmets that Corinthian helmets were hammered. What we see as very thick nasals are often thin with turned edges, while some have a heavier reinforcement either riveted into place or even *cast in place*. That was a pretty common technique back then.

Spinning first seems to show up with the simple pilos or "bell" helmet, around the time of the Peloponnesian Wars (late fifth century). They haven't been studied carefully enough, yet, but that article I quoted on my spun Roman helmet webpage mentions a number of surviving pilos helmets that are all perfectly round in plan and surprisingly uniform in size. So, spun! (Which makes it very frustrating to me that some company in India isn't cranking these bad boys out for 50 bucks a pop!)

These helmets seem to coincide with a growing use of mercenaries, and *possibly* with a general "lightening" of hoplite gear in general for many men. (I'm not entirely convinced of the latter point, since it is only a good 30 years *after* the Peloponnesian War that Iphikrates is credited with re-equipping hoplites to give them lighter equipment. Replacing the heavy bronze armor with linen is specifically mentioned--why should that be necessary if cuirasses had already gone away? And since it seems clear that Iphikrates' ideas were never universally adopted, that tells us that the traditional "heavy" equipment continued.) In any case, the pilos helmet becomes common in archeology and artwork. BUT more elaborate and enclosed types also remain in use. Phrygian helmets are more complex than Corinthians, and just as enclosing.

There is a LOT of ink spilled about how open helmets (and lighter or less armor) are such an IMPROVEMENT over the Corinthian helmet. Most of it ignores the fact that several other types of enclose helmets were in use long after the Corinthian was gone. AND that most open helmets through history have been criticized by modern writers as not being as protective as enclosed ones! Gads... Obviously the true reasons behind helmet development are very complex, and include protection, fashion, heat, cost, and fashion again, for starters. You don't bother making cheap helmets for aristocrats, nor was perfect hearing and vision a big deal for the first few hundred years of phalanx warfare! Lining up shoulder-to-shoulder and going forwards just doesn't require superior situational awareness, eh?

A bronze helmet of some sort seems to have been standard equipment for the Hellenistic spearman or pikeman. Whether it was directly purchased by the soldier, or issued by his employer, or whether the cost came from his pay over time, I don't know. There might be no good information about that. And that's what we're seeing in artwork--it's not like we've dug up a bunch of fully-stocked arsenals or anything. The Greeks were not conveniently chucking all kinds of good stuff into rivers and bogs like the Romans did, so a bronze helmet would be used as long as someone wanted to use it, then eventually melted down for its metal. I've seen a couple that served as cookpots or buckets, too.

Iron helmets (and armor) first start showing up in Greek areas in the 4th century BC, and mostly in royal or aristocratic tombs. I'm not sure if iron helmets were ever *common* among Hellenistic grunt troops. But then even the Romans did not get heavily into iron helmets until the first century AD, which is well after the Hellenistic era was over. Sure, the Romans had plenty of iron mail before then, and other iron things as well, but copper alloys were a staple of helmet production well into the 2nd century AD. Many of those were spun, some were not. Iron helmets were always hammered, since spinning technology wasn't up to things like slag inclusions in the iron. (It wasn't about heat or hardness!)

Whether a spun brass or bronze helmet is cheaper than a hammered iron one, I couldn't tell ya! Couldn't tell you if the Romans cared about that or not, either, since equipment costs were passed on to the troops (via payroll deductions). So much just depends on what the economy and infrastructure have developed to produce, which may not have been because of deliberate choices.

But equipping a standing professional army backed by an empire is a vastly different thing from a city-state requiring its monied classes to equip themselves for military service. A hoplite might have an armorer come to his estate to take measurements for a new cuirass. Or he might browse the agora trying on helmets to find one that he likes and that fits nicely. Or have the armorer tweak and embellish a particular "off the shelf" cuirass to fit and look better. We frankly don't know! The Roman empire wanted its troops equipped cheaply and efficiently, though NOT so cheaply that they didn't have more armor than any other army! The contractors making the stuff wanted to keep their profit margins as large as possible. The officers wanted the troops to have something to polish and maintain. The troops wanted it LIGHT and comfortable. Whose priorities took priority? We don't always know.

Does that question enough of your answers for starters?

Matthew



never let it be said i dont ask the tough questions Razz


what im trying to do is set the scene i suppose to try and figure out where spangens came from and, moe importantly, how they just spread throughout europe and the nea east (including the sassanians) and just stayed there,

im trying to figue out why they became so dominant , even fio very expensively made helmets for very rich people...

i find it hard to think the commisioner of the sutton hoo couldnt have afforded it to be of a single piece... same for the valsegade and vendel helms.

or princely helmets of 10th and 9th century russian nobility being panel but without the cross spars to support the structue

heck we even see helms of lamella plates at one pint in the avas and the sassanids of the 6th-7th centuries

and also, trying to figue out why the byzantines stoppoed using ridge helmets and more impotantly stopped using cheek pieces....

in that case loss of teritory to the early islamic calipates might have crippled the economy and made earlie helmets less viable...

but barbaian helms always seem to be expensive, if they could make them single piece before, why did they stop i wonder??


and a better question is, why they were phased out again, yes i know kettle helms retained a spangen structure fo a bit longer into the 13th century because they wee likely of a more mass issue/ purchase by common folk...


these questions i am trying to answer by first understanding the methods by which helmets in antiquity ere made....
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Wed 25 May, 2016 9:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:



never let it be said i dont ask the tough questions Razz


what im trying to do is set the scene i suppose to try and figure out where spangens came from and, moe importantly, how they just spread throughout europe and the nea east (including the sassanians) and just stayed there,

im trying to figue out why they became so dominant , even fio very expensively made helmets for very rich people...

i find it hard to think the commisioner of the sutton hoo couldnt have afforded it to be of a single piece... same for the valsegade and vendel helms.

or princely helmets of 10th and 9th century russian nobility being panel but without the cross spars to support the structue

heck we even see helms of lamella plates at one pint in the avas and the sassanids of the 6th-7th centuries

and also, trying to figue out why the byzantines stoppoed using ridge helmets and more impotantly stopped using cheek pieces....

in that case loss of teritory to the early islamic calipates might have crippled the economy and made earlie helmets less viable...

but barbaian helms always seem to be expensive, if they could make them single piece before, why did they stop i wonder??


and a better question is, why they were phased out again, yes i know kettle helms retained a spangen structure fo a bit longer into the 13th century because they wee likely of a more mass issue/ purchase by common folk...


these questions i am trying to answer by first understanding the methods by which helmets in antiquity ere made....


Who says the maker of the Sutton hoo helmet could make a single piece helmet? If I had a few million dollars in 1908 I could give them to Henry Ford to make me a gilded jewel encrusted Model T, but not matter how much money I throw at him he won't be able to make me an Apollo 11.

I have a hunch that producing armor from larger single plates of steel is only really viable when the demand for sheet metal products is big enough. If your market was big enough that you could sell say 100 kettle helmets in a month it might be worthwhile to have a chain of production where waterwheel-powered bloomeries produce 100 kg blooms, in turn a water powered trip hammer could be used to produce flat billets or sheet steel. You could then rather quickly turn those sheets in nice kettle helmets like this one, of course you would hire maybe a dozen other journeyman smiths to assist you in meeting the demand.



But would you bother setting up a mill to power furnaces, trips hammers and would you hire twelve guys if you could only sell three kettle helmets a month? Maybe one of two three is heavily decorated but that does not warrant an enormous investment in production capability. You might even be good if your supply chain involves a simple bloomery that produces 10-20 kg blooms that are hammered by hand. You could maybe get an assistant to hammer small bits into nice sheets which you could then assemble with rivets. Instead of twelve skilled smiths you'd just had to have a bunch of people capable of producing small steel sheets which you then assemble. You can put a few gems in one or gild it, but you wouldn't need a trip hammer for that.





Culture could also play a role, why would you deviate from the common design of helmets on your island? Wasn't the design of grandfathers helmet good enough? Can we afford to import foreign smiths to teach us new designs? Do native smiths have a reason to change the design by themselves?

These are all just some free floating thoughts so feel free to pole holes in them.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Wed 25 May, 2016 11:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

But you don't need a 100 kg bloom to make a 1kg helmet bowl, do you? Probably a 2kg bloom would do just fine. And the point is that the Greeks and Romans *were* making one-piece helmets for about a thousand years before the multi-piece helmet types suddenly took over. And that happened when the Romans went to large centralized factories, whereas the one-piece helmets were all being made by smaller contractors. Granted, these "smaller" shops were probably not one- or two-man operations, but I'd be surprised if any craft really was, back then. These weren't individual hobbyists spending weekends in their basements, trying things they'd never done before, after all. Any professional smith would have had a full, competent staff of assistants, apprentices, beaters, slaves, etc.

So yes, I would be very surprised if the man who hammered out the 2 halves of the bowl for the Sutton Hoo helmet was not capable of doing it in one piece! BUT we just don't know exactly what techniques he was using, nor why.

A couple years ago the same general question came up about Roman helmet styles, and I was wondering how it could be easier to dish out 4 or 6 or 8 plates that all fit together nicely, then laboriously rivet them all together, rather than just bang out a single-piece dome. Especially with what we were learning about stacking thicker plates to be roughly dished 4 or 5 at a time by beaters (or a power hammer), rather than (again, laboriously) *raising* a single dome in one piece from a flat sheet or plate. But with what a couple modern armorers were able to tell me, it does seem entirely possible that the multiplate method simply suits itself better to mass-production with semi-skilled labor. A few wooden templates for shape and curvature, and you can have a line of slaves cutting and dishing to shape very quickly, and another row punching and riveting. Again, something like riveting a bowl together is tedious and frustrating for the lone hobbyist on his first or second spangenhelm, but for *two* people who have done it a couple dozen times, it'll go 3 or 4 times as fast. Can't tell you how MANY times I've seriously wished for just one more hand!

Of course, many surviving multi-piece helms were NOT the product of a major production line! But I don't think it was a technological limitation which forced them to be several pieces rather than one.

I don't think that's the complete and final answer, by any means! Just something to consider.

Matthew
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Wed 25 May, 2016 11:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
But you don't need a 100 kg bloom to make a 1kg helmet bowl, do you? Probably a 2kg bloom would do just fine. And the point is that the Greeks and Romans *were* making one-piece helmets for about a thousand years before the multi-piece helmet types suddenly took over. And that happened when the Romans went to large centralized factories, whereas the one-piece helmets were all being made by smaller contractors. Granted, these "smaller" shops were probably not one- or two-man operations, but I'd be surprised if any craft really was, back then. These weren't individual hobbyists spending weekends in their basements, trying things they'd never done before, after all. Any professional smith would have had a full, competent staff of assistants, apprentices, beaters, slaves, etc.

So yes, I would be very surprised if the man who hammered out the 2 halves of the bowl for the Sutton Hoo helmet was not capable of doing it in one piece! BUT we just don't know exactly what techniques he was using, nor why.

A couple years ago the same general question came up about Roman helmet styles, and I was wondering how it could be easier to dish out 4 or 6 or 8 plates that all fit together nicely, then laboriously rivet them all together, rather than just bang out a single-piece dome. Especially with what we were learning about stacking thicker plates to be roughly dished 4 or 5 at a time by beaters (or a power hammer), rather than (again, laboriously) *raising* a single dome in one piece from a flat sheet or plate. But with what a couple modern armorers were able to tell me, it does seem entirely possible that the multiplate method simply suits itself better to mass-production with semi-skilled labor. A few wooden templates for shape and curvature, and you can have a line of slaves cutting and dishing to shape very quickly, and another row punching and riveting. Again, something like riveting a bowl together is tedious and frustrating for the lone hobbyist on his first or second spangenhelm, but for *two* people who have done it a couple dozen times, it'll go 3 or 4 times as fast. Can't tell you how MANY times I've seriously wished for just one more hand!

Of course, many surviving multi-piece helms were NOT the product of a major production line! But I don't think it was a technological limitation which forced them to be several pieces rather than one.

I don't think that's the complete and final answer, by any means! Just something to consider.

Matthew



Well the bloom example was just to show how capital investment can produce the benefits of scale. Now correct me if I am wrong but single piece steel helmets did not fully replace brass or bronze ones until the first century AD right? I don't know an awful lot about the Roman era so I am just going to fire off a few questions which might give us a better picture of what the conditions were when the helmet design changed. The large centralized factories only happened during the reign of Diocletian didn't it? How much did the economy decline during the third century? Did the number of helmets produced increase or decrease relative to the size of army? Was state income increased during Diocletians reign? Did the price of a helmet relative to a soldiers wage increase or decrease?

Perhaps economic decline, civil unrest and a few other factors were the reason arms production was centralized in the first place. Was the proportion of unskilled (slave) labor greater in those factories? It could indeed be the case that multipart construction was EVEN cheaper on a great scale than raising it from a single plate. Maybe I should not seek the answer on a spectrum with two ends but rather a multi direction one where both technological production capabilities and the scale of production are important. Maybe slave labor increased or labor prices dropped which made it more economically viable to produce a multi piece helmet with cheap labor rather than expensive machines, or maybe both were utilized. If the cost of investing in a trip hammer to beat multiple plates in a mold was the same as buying twenty slaves one might chose the latter option and go with a production process those slaves are better for. Low labor cost has been the anti-dote to industrialization more often than once, if hiring more labor for low or non existing wages can increase production and profit more than buying a new machine or investing in labor productivity than the former is going to win. Historical China provides us an example of this, despite having many technological innovations to their name their economy relied on (cheap) human labor more than labor saving devices.

Back to the Sutton Hoo helmet; maybe or quite likely they just stuck with the older multipiece production of helmets because that was how the Romans did it. Even though the economic, political or civil factors which made the Romans switch to this design had (possible?) disappeared the design had not, why would it anyways?
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Wed 25 May, 2016 6:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
Well the bloom example was just to show how capital investment can produce the benefits of scale.


Fair enough! Variations in production methods would certainly have an influence on the final products.

Quote:
Now correct me if I am wrong but single piece steel helmets did not fully replace brass or bronze ones until the first century AD right?


Even then they didn't. Iron helmets were used right alongside brass ones well into the 3rd century AD. All one piece until the ridge helmets show up, of course.

Quote:
I don't know an awful lot about the Roman era so I am just going to fire off a few questions which might give us a better picture of what the conditions were when the helmet design changed.


Come on, bring it! Laughing Out Loud

Quote:
The large centralized factories only happened during the reign of Diocletian didn't it?


Uh, something like that. I get real fuzzy after Hadrian...

Quote:
How much did the economy decline during the third century?


I don't know that it did! The army was INcreasing in size, though it may only have reached its largest in the 4th century?

Quote:
Did the number of helmets produced increase or decrease relative to the size of army?


I don't know if there is any good data. My *guess* is that it stayed pretty constant, roughly one hat per head, or a little less. Not including any stockpiles which may have existed.

Quote:
Was state income increased during Diocletians reign? Did the price of a helmet relative to a soldiers wage increase or decrease?

Perhaps economic decline, civil unrest and a few other factors were the reason arms production was centralized in the first place. Was the proportion of unskilled (slave) labor greater in those factories?


"Good questions! Find out and let us know!" Sorry, my cop-out answer. Late Roman stuff and economics are both very weak points for me...

Quote:
It could indeed be the case that multipart construction was EVEN cheaper on a great scale than raising it from a single plate. Maybe I should not seek the answer on a spectrum with two ends but rather a multi direction one where both technological production capabilities and the scale of production are important.


Absolutely! With other factors besides those, possibly including some we haven't thought of.

Quote:
Maybe slave labor increased or labor prices dropped which made it more economically viable to produce a multi piece helmet with cheap labor rather than expensive machines, or maybe both were utilized. If the cost of investing in a trip hammer to beat multiple plates in a mold was the same as buying twenty slaves one might chose the latter option and go with a production process those slaves are better for. Low labor cost has been the anti-dote to industrialization more often than once, if hiring more labor for low or non existing wages can increase production and profit more than buying a new machine or investing in labor productivity than the former is going to win. Historical China provides us an example of this, despite having many technological innovations to their name their economy relied on (cheap) human labor more than labor saving devices.


I wouldn't want to speculate without some kind of data. The Roman Empire has often been accused of passing up techological development because of slave labor, but that's too simple an answer since we know that some things like water mills did exist.

Quote:
Back to the Sutton Hoo helmet; maybe or quite likely they just stuck with the older multipiece production of helmets because that was how the Romans did it. Even though the economic, political or civil factors which made the Romans switch to this design had (possible?) disappeared the design had not, why would it anyways?


In which case, we're back to FASHION! "I build them this way cuz that's how my old grand-dad built them!" By the time of Sutton Hoo, the Romans are too long gone for that to have been a *direct* factor, but they do seem to still be following the general form of the Late Roman helmet.

Matthew
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Peter Spätling
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PostPosted: Wed 25 May, 2016 11:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

the first water powered hammer in europe since the fall of the west roman empire can be found in the 11th century. I don't know the exact date. "Stronger Than a Hundred Men: A History of the Vertical Water Wheel" can tell you the details.
Which means, in the centuries before you had to do everything by hand.
And it is quite simply why the helmets were made of smaller plates instead of one big plate.
Because you can't produce a big steel plate without a waterpowered hammer. My boss and I started some experiments to make our own hammered steel sheets, with a power hammer with 30kg. We just can say this is by !far! not enough power. You wouldn't be able to accomplish this with a bunch of smiths.
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PostPosted: Thu 26 May, 2016 3:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I wouldn't want to speculate without some kind of data. The Roman Empire has often been accused of passing up techological development because of slave labor, but that's too simple an answer since we know that some things like water mills did exist.


I don't have time right now to give a really in-depth reply today but here is a short comment on this bit. Use of cheap or slave labor does not necessarily mean no things are invented at all but rather than labor saving inventions are not utilized. To give an example; The movable type printing press and the woodblock printing press. The former was invented in China around the year 1000 but it was not used in preference over woodblock printing, woodblock printing requiring less capital investment in fixed assets are presumable less skilled labor. Because the labor price was quite low woodblock printing was naturally what profit orientated printing shops did. The same goes for Mills, where the Dutch would built a few hundred mills for water management the Chinese could rely on cheap labor to pump water with human or livestock operated mills. Adam Smith who laid the foundations for modern economics already made quite a case against slavery on economic grounds alone, there is a point where slavery will simply be more profitable than using machines you have already invented.

Now if we were to apply this knowledge to the case at hand we would have to have some demographic information and hopefully some information on the factories themselves.

I'll try to look into it this weekend.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Thu 26 May, 2016 12:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Spätling wrote:
the first water powered hammer in europe since the fall of the west roman empire can be found in the 11th century. I don't know the exact date. "Stronger Than a Hundred Men: A History of the Vertical Water Wheel" can tell you the details.
Which means, in the centuries before you had to do everything by hand.
And it is quite simply why the helmets were made of smaller plates instead of one big plate.
Because you can't produce a big steel plate without a waterpowered hammer. My boss and I started some experiments to make our own hammered steel sheets, with a power hammer with 30kg. We just can say this is by !far! not enough power. You wouldn't be able to accomplish this with a bunch of smiths.


Okay, but again, how big is "big"? Iron helmets and even breastplates were being made in one piece as far back as the 4th century BC, though that far back they are for nobility and royalty, not production pieces. People keep talking about the inability to made "large" sheets or plates of iron, but no starting billet had to weigh more than 10 or 12 pounds even for a whole breastplate. And the ancients were obviously able to accomplish this, by hand. So we're back to the original question, why not a 2 or 3-pound helmet bowl in one piece? I'm still not convinced it was lack of technology or technical skill.

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PostPosted: Thu 26 May, 2016 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We are right now not able to create a useful plate of 60 cm x 40 cm x 2 mm. My boss follows a text source from the 18th century, describing how to hammer sheets of steel. It is by far more complex than one would tend to think.
You start with flat bars. About 5cm x 30 cm x 6mm, each bar will be one plate at the end. You stack about 5 or 6 of them. Between every layer of steel you add a fluid of water, loam and coal dust, to prevent the pieces from forging together. It is pointed out by the writer not to get above a red color, to prevent the pieces from welding. Which means you are not supposed to get above ~850°C. However as steel won't weld at such a low temperature we always heated it higher up so far. If you will try to work piece by piece it 'll be cooled down before you reach the anvil. That 's why you have to stack them together, to keep the warmth and to get an even plate.
The bars are held together by a pair of pliers, you will need to switch them multiple times with decreasing thickness. You take your stack out of the forge or oven and start to stretch one end beneath the waterpowered hammer. Btw. of course you also need special hammer heads for the power hammer....
Once you are done stretching one side (not in the length but the width of course), you either have to reheat or can still turn around and stretch the other side. Now once this is done, you will definitely have to reheat. In the meantime you need to change the swages of the hammer. So, you stretched the sides, with the next run you will be able to stretch the middle of the stack. And hopefully reach an even result. Which means you have three rows in which you work. One end, the other end and finally the middle part. This work quite well as long as the pieces are thick and your hammer is really power full. 5 x 6cm, is 30cm, that 's quite a thickness to work with...
Now after the first run, you take the stack apart, place the sheets from the middle of the last stack onto the top and bottom, as there most deformation happens, and reheat everything. (Don 't forget your Hanebrei, that 's the german word for the dirt mixture you need to add) Onward! Repeat and repeat and repeat. Until you reach a certain point.
Now comes the time when the pieces are so thin (don 't worry, we still have lots of material), that the deformation won't work as good as in the beginning. Also due to the new form, you loose a lot of heat. So what do we do? You get your stack and flap one side onto the other. As if you 'd fold a piece of paper. Now you work the stack again (this is the last time), and bent it open again. At last you can planish the plates.

I 'm not that familiar with the armour of the antique. However if anyone made armour from steel plates. He had something similar to a power hammer. Otherwise this won't work. No human can keep up with a hammer specially designed for this one purpose. The biggest problem is the huge loss of material and heat during the stretching process. Humans are to slow no matter how you look at it.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Thu 26 May, 2016 7:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brilliant stuff, Thanks, Peter! The part about folding the sheets to hammer them thinner is genius. Very informative.

Here's the iron cuirass from Prodromi, 4th century BC. It must have been state of the art.



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James Arlen Gillaspie
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PostPosted: Thu 26 May, 2016 7:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I should like to address the notion that helmet skulls were ever made by stacking plates. I have found no evidence yet that that was ever done, over all the decades I have been looking at real helmets (and I have looked at MANY, couldn't even do a rough count), with one possible exception in a major museum's reserve collection. The curator, a man I greatly respect, thought the skull was real when I questioned it. I just worked on thee early 17th c. helmets that were part of a good sized munition order (one piece skulls), and they had all been forged individually. I have yet to see the interior of the skull of a 'black Schaller', however, and I would not be surprised if they were done in multiples.

In the Europe of the later 16th and 17th centuries, two piece skulls become common, and are a sign of the beginning of national armies with centralized administrations and a lower bidder mentality when it came to supplying equipment to the grunts. Steel armour almost disappears to be replaced by wrought iron, too, so it seems as though armour tech goes retrograde.

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William P




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PostPosted: Thu 26 May, 2016 8:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

ok, a few things

1, thanks for the data

2, the sutton hoo was a 2 piece skull?

now im stating to understand why people think it's a derivative design from late oman cavalry helmets, the neckguard looks a lot like a roman ridge helmet


now, point 3

for roman helmets the change to multiple pieces i understood a lot more why they went for the multipiece skull like the ridge helmets, bigger population, bigger army, save cost, why not make them multiple pieces for mass production so that makes sense moreso


what gets me is the use in barbaian areas, they were making them single piece, then switched to spangen without too much indication they were any more common (or maybe theywere and we just dont have the sources to confirm it, perhaps saxon helmets being spangen, became instead of worn by 1 in 100, became 1 in 50 peoplke in a helmet or even more i believe saxon fyrd laws in alfeds reign required the equipping of a helmet i think, according to matt bunker on another thread here i think....


not to mention the byzantines go from ridge helmets to essentially coolus helmets for the infantry, bowl helmets of banding o single piece, with an aventail of padding, pteryges or scales, abd by the reign of nikephoros, he says that solkdies should at least have a kamelukion which is essentially a very thick felt pilos mplus a turban rather than everyone always having a helmet.... i suppose the empire, losing holdings in italy and north africa in preceding centuries didnt ahve the resources to crank out helmets as easily by the 10th century despite the empie being at its hight since the invasians by basil II's reign

http://www.geocities.ws/egfrothos/SideComplete.jpg helmets like this reconstructed from the madrid skylitzes manuscript

http://www.levantia.com.au/military/pictures/yasenovo.jpg yasnevo helmet a style thought to be in common use nby medieval cataphractrs in the 10th century


even cavalry had multipiece helmets like the 4 panel helmets in use in russia and by the khazars
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PostPosted: Fri 27 May, 2016 6:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

@James Arlen Gillaspie
I strongly believe that the "bucket"-technique from Bienno was used for producing single piece helmets. However the final form has always been made by hand. So the armourer ordered multiple semi-finished helmets, the way he wanted them to be, and gave them the appearance he wanted to. Some months ago we had 7 helmets in the workshop, burgonets, zischäggen and so on. On two of the burgonets you could still clearly see the hammer marks left by a waterpowered hammer.
I guess most of the hammer marks simply vanish when you give the helmet its final shape and planish the surface. I don't doubt this technique in any way. Also, who came up with the idea to make buckets like this?

The only thing we don't understand is how you can get the comb(s) on burgonets using this method. I mean, seriously some of the are really huge! And completely raising such cheap munition grade helmets is out of the question. I often thought of welding them in the middle. But, on no single piece I know of, something like a weld or a broken weld can be found. Instead you see marks that show us that the piece(s) were raised. So I guess the rough form was done as always, using a waterpowered hammer, working multiple pieces at a time. And later one doing the fine tuning by hand.

@Matthew Amt
wasn't there also a helmet with the cuirass?
I'd say this one belonged to some noble dude, with a decent amount of wealth. Has anyone ever thought of importing the sheet material for armour? Instead of producing it on your own? Like from china? I heard something about chinese craftsman being able to cast steel in the 3rd century b.C.?
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PostPosted: Fri 27 May, 2016 7:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Spätling wrote:
@Matthew Amt
wasn't there also a helmet with the cuirass?


There is a helmet currently displayed with the cuirass, at least in some of the photos online, but I don't know if it was actually found with it.

Quote:
I'd say this one belonged to some noble dude, with a decent amount of wealth.


Oh, yes! Expensive stuff.

Quote:
Has anyone ever thought of importing the sheet material for armour? Instead of producing it on your own? Like from china? I heard something about chinese craftsman being able to cast steel in the 3rd century b.C.?


You mean back then? No real idea. There was certainly trade in metal, since neither copper nor tin are found in the Aegean area. Iron probably is. We know by Roman times there were particular places famed for their steel, so it's possible there were similar preferred sources in Greek times.

But not China! It simply wasn't known as part of the world, and there was no regular trade which might have brought Chinese products to the Mediterranean.

Matthew
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Peter Spätling
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PostPosted: Fri 27 May, 2016 9:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Found the helmet.

Well china was just an example. And still, silk found its way from there to europe.
But steel is different, just consider the weight. I also think it 's implausible that steel sheets were traded over such a long distance.
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PostPosted: Fri 27 May, 2016 10:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have been arguing with people for over 25 years that one piece helmet skulls were not raised, but hammered out from the inside with round faced, long beaked sledgehammers, often water powered. It's nice to know that people are finally starting to catch up. Cool I include a photo of the inside of a morion that I had through my hands awhile back, and a photo of me demonstrating the process of forging a skull when you don't have a trip hammer. You need good strikers for that. Notice how the inside of the morion looks like a concave version of the surface of the moon, but the comb is much smoother; that is the only place you see anything that looks like planishing. No way was that skull part of a stack.


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