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Zach Gordon




Location: Vermont. USA
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PostPosted: Sun 17 Dec, 2017 1:13 pm    Post subject: Realistic body type         Reply with quote

Hello all,

I thought this would be an interesting topic. It is inspired by a lot of clothing, mail, padding, armor, etc.. fit questions on this site and others with regard to authenticity.


Often I feel like I/we don't want to comment on it so as to not insult the OP, but we also want to be authentic. I was talking to a guy I know, recently, who is a professional archaeologist in the UK who was mentioning how 'horizontally' smaller people were back then. We talk about the myth of how people were not smaller back then 'vertically', but there's also maybe an element of truth to it. Largely they were a lot thinner, and/or, a lot younger than the average reenactor today. We complain about the wrong race or gender in reenactment sometimes (crossdressing, or portraying other ethnicities) but seem to ignore the other obvious: an average soldier in say the American civil war, or WWII, would be a skinny 16-18yr old kid... Not an overweight/obese 50yr old man. I would presume this is largely the same in the Middle Ages. It's extremely relevant to discuss this when talking about clothing fit, and portraying the "average" in history rather than the possible exception. I feel like most of us who do this kinda stuff age/weight-wise would be the extreme exception.

What do you guys think? Should we include diet/exercise in seeking authenticity? Should we comment on this, or is it too taboo?

I'm not aiming to insult anyone, which is why I'm bringing this up as a new topic, and not commenting on any one post. Please don't take this as such, but I feel like we should have a discussion on what represents an authentic portrayal in this regard.

Best,
Z
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Dec, 2017 1:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes. It is jarring to turn up to an event and seeing half the participants with their stomachs sticking out under their cuirass. The public sees the incongruency and laughs. Lose some weight - both for authenticity's sake and for your own health. Henry VIII had an incredibly painful leg ulcers that kept him from exercising. What's your excuse?
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Dec, 2017 4:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's not a problem that can be solved in any practical way. Reenactors do what they want to because they want to, and sure, the good ones do it as well as they possibly can. But modern lifestyles, incomes, and genetics are all factors that can't be avoided. What you're suggesting is that reenacting should be restricted to the young and fit, and that the rest of us have to give up our Hobby and passion.

Some of us saggy old farts are still good at doing show and tell for schoolroom demos, even if we aren't up to 20 mile marches in armor. Should we just tell the kids they're out of luck?

Believe me, I'd love to be 30 years younger and twice as fit as I ever was! Ain't gonna happen. I'll just have to keep doing the best I can.

Matthew
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Joe A




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Dec, 2017 5:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So far I've not encountered anyone too fat to be taken seriously in my work focused on ancient Greece and Rome, and for me I'd prefer the participants spend more time cleaning, polishing and knowing more information about the gear they use and wear and the historical period they reenact.

As for the folks in the past being more fit than modern folks, or less "horizontal," I'd ask for hard proof from anyone making that statement. I assume he means folks in the West and he believes his perception of our current robustness is a bad thing. In my experience, someone saying such things works at a desk and lives in an urban place, and encounters folks who also work at desks. Go to any rural place in any developed country and look at the folks still making a living on a farm or with their hands, as millions still do, and you will see plenty of fit and healthy folks. For the most part they are not thin either as such a lifestyle requires strength as well as stamina. Anyone seriously researching ancient folks will tell you they often lived their lives in awful health and died young. If some were thinner than us it was more due to chronic malnutrition rather than any concept of a healthy life. Just getting enough food to prevent starvation and being thin is nothing to aspire to as a civilization.
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Dec, 2017 5:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Amen, Matthew....I just turned 50 back in November, and my wife says I've never looked better in my armor. True, time has taken a toll on my back--so no 20 mile marches for me either--but I think I'm pretty fit for my age. Fifty years of 5'-7'', 170 pounds and mostly muscle. If I were any different--a skinny weakling or a Jabba the Hutt wannabe--I wouldn't still be doing what I'm doing---and getting compliments on it. Wink Razz ......McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Steve Fabert





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PostPosted: Sun 17 Dec, 2017 6:43 pm    Post subject: Medieval obesity         Reply with quote

I'm rereading "Blood Red Roses" the forensic archeology of the mass grave at Towton. None of the analysis included an estimate of body weight. of the dead combatants in March of 1461. Instead it was noted that nothing could be inferred about their soft tissues because none was preserved. The authors did note high prevalence of chronic spinal stress from weight bearing, and guessed that it was from lifting during hard labor rather than overweight.

Here's a medical article estimating daily caloric intake during the middle ages. More than enough to produce obesity in all but very active adults.
http://www.thefinertimes.com/Middle-Ages/food...-ages.html

If all else fails rotund persons should restrict themselves to the portrayal of aristocrats or clerics.
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Dan D'Silva





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PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2017 4:25 am    Post subject: Re: Realistic body type         Reply with quote

I'm with Matt on this. Keeping fit is a good ideal and all, but practically, if we were to exclude or discourage reenactors on the basis of body type, we'd lose WAY too many. Also very few 18-year-olds have the time or money for reenacting.
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Steve Fabert





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PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2017 7:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

During the Wars of the Roses they called out the entire male adult population of England to fight on two different occasions. It wasn't anything like fielding a modern army of young single men. So if you were to reenact those battles using only young thin people you would fail to achieve anything like historical realism.
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2017 10:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve Fabert wrote:
During the Wars of the Roses they called out the entire male adult population of England to fight on two different occasions. It wasn't anything like fielding a modern army of young single men. So if you were to reenact those battles using only young thin people you would fail to achieve anything like historical realism.
Source? That sounds highly stupid. How would farm sustain the economy if all adult men were called into service? Before tractors, fertilizers, etc. creating homes, making food, clothes, etc would extremely expensive. Also, there are plenty of positions in a modern military that are not fills by young single men, it is just young single men that kill each other the most. same way historically, same way now by for different reasons.
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Steve Fabert





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PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2017 10:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I just read it in "Blood Red Roses". But here are some additional references.

http://history-groby.weebly.com/uploads/2/9/5...nd_why.pdf

http://www.history.com/news/9-things-you-shou...-the-roses

http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_towton.html


What you or I might think of today as ill-advised was viewed from a different perspective centuries ago. The fact that a decision would have been pretty dumb is no proof that it wasn't done that way. Just because two competing monarchs demanded that every adult male show up to fight is no proof that they actually participated. However there is no historical evidence that passing a physical was a prerequisite for joining the fight. Enough of the general population participated to produce a really impressive slaughter, second only to what occurred in France on July 1, 1916. A century ago they were still willing to make military decisions that cost them the wealth of their entire empire. Why should we assume that they were wiser in the 15th Century?
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Zach Gordon




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2017 12:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The difficulty here, is not wanting to single out any one person or group.. So I don't want to post any specific link or photo. Google, "American Civil War Reenactor" then google "American Civil War", and click images. You can compare like for like photos. There's a lot to criticise that makes them look unrealistic, uniform fit, etc... but the big difference is the weight. You simply cannot replicate a thin tailored uniform aesthetic on a 350lbs frame.

In art, and more toward the Medival Period, if we look at the Maciejowski Bible, f.e., we see again a slender tailored look to the clothing, the mail, the designs, etc. Again, this could be replicated on a thin 150lbs frame but not the former. The baggy clothing and loose mail that looks so bad on reenactors has to look the way it does given the ahistorical build of the wearer.

Sure there were exceptions through time and place, and we can make anecdotal arguments for and against... but we will not see the rampant extreme obesity, we see readily today, outside of extreme examples in the past. Look at "the fattest man" sideshow guys from the 19th century.

What I'm suggesting is that we look at this as another element of accuracy. If you want to portray an average soldier, diet and exercise should be as important as hand-sewing your soft kit. That this shouldn't be a taboo subject, and is as relevant to armour and clothing fit as anything else.

If there is no way or likelihood that individually you can represent a character like this, maybe try looking towards representing a monk, or nobleman, or civilian. Something appropriate to your own age and aesthetic. There are diverse roles that need to be replicated to accurately portray a past society. Not everyone need be a soldier.

Other thoughts/opinions welcome!
Z
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Steve Fabert





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PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2017 12:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm too old to march around. I might pass for Henry VIII on his deathbed if I dyed my beard red, otherwise I'll stick to the friar tuck roles.

Every good battle reenactment needs medical personnel & quartermaster staff, or an aged general or two. Leave the combat roles to the skinny kids.
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Dan D'Silva





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PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2017 3:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll say it again: I just don't believe there are that many young people who have the means and inclination to be reenactors. I think if there were, we'd see them already.
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Ben Joy




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2017 5:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm with Matthew Amt, Mark Moore, and Dan D'Silva on this for the personal side of things; and I'm also with Steve Fabert on the historical side of it.

On the most personal side of things, I'm disabled but I have a hobby that I enjoy. I'm not going to let someone tell me I'm not allowed to pursue my hobby or interests in the name of "historical authenticity." If I want to wear my armor and sit around and show it off, or wear it to some renaissance fair/festival, then I will . . . period. Just like if I wanted to buy some soft-kit pieces that are machine sewn then I'll get pieces that are machine sewn. Sure, when educating it's worth saying that, "They didn't have machine stitching in that time period, and the pieces would have been hand-stitched. However, I'm wearing stuff that's machine-sewn because we have some awesome modern technology to do that." Also, while I do what I can to maintain my physical health . . . lets just say I'm not physically able to do everything I did in the military with my physical health as it is.

If someone wants to go hardcore in their kit and lifestyle and time . . . then more power to them and I hope they enjoy doing it. If some woman wants to run around as a soldier then let them (hell, historically speaking Hua Mulan stayed hidden as a woman in the military for YEARS, so there's no saying whether or not others around the world did the same thing . . . even if a "myth" the story originated from somewhere). Frankly, the community should be happy for all of the interest it can drum up. It's like the fact that Japan is honoring and accepting members/students for the Shinto Clergy or traditional Bushido practices from across the world . . . because otherwise they'd be dwindling out and dying.

On the other hand, it's also worth mentioning that there's the old adage of, "If you have plenty of money, then you have no time; and if you have plenty of time, then you have no money." This goes heavily for reenacting. I'd love to see lots of younger people running around in armor and fancy garb with historically accurate solid weapons, but they probably don't have the money for it . . . and if they do have the money then they're probably spending it on other things and spending their little free time on other things.

Also, it's worth mentioning that there's been several articles citing evidence that more than just the ultra-young and fit served in the military and that there was more than enough caloric intake for obesity to exist. Let alone the mentioning of the fact that we've never seen requirements for health to serve . . . just requirements of gear. Do we even need to mention that just because we've recently discovered genetics and metabolic diseases means they didn't exist beforehand? or that the only body type to exist was the ultra-fit? or that artists weren't expected to portray people in the best light possible (look at Greece's and Rome's obsessions with the "ideal man")? or that they were maybe just easier to draw more "fit"? After all, we critique the poor art all the time on the gear and weapons (recent debate over the single-edged spear heads, for example), so why not their anatomical depictions?

Just my two cents and complete opinion, as the OP was asking for.

"Men take only their needs into consideration, never their abilities." -Napoleon Bonaparte
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2017 8:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You can't just look at the calories that were ingested because the food was completely different back then. The energy-dense, highly-processed, sugar-saturated foods that are common today never existed. The food they had available required much more energy to digest than today's foods - even their bread. Activity levels were much higher as well - even amongst the so-called "idle rich". They needed those levels of calories each day just to stay alive. Even among the ultra-wealthy, the incidence of obesity was low.
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Ben Joy




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Dec, 2017 12:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
You can't just look at the calories that were ingested because the food was completely different back then. The energy-dense, highly-processed, sugar-saturated foods that are common today never existed. The food they had available required much more energy to digest than today's foods - even their bread. Activity levels were much higher as well - even amongst the so-called "idle rich". They needed those levels of calories each day just to stay alive. Even among the ultra-wealthy, the incidence of obesity was low.

According to what data? Just as Steve Fabert points out, you've got to be really active to burn that many calories in a day and not gain weight. Being combat arms, in war, we were told by the medics to ensure we ingested ~4k calories a day spending 10+ hours in full combat gear and conducting active wartime combat operations . . . because that's about how much we were burning. That's a LOT of activity with a minimum 50 pound load worn the whole time and that's still only ~4k calories. Oh, and that was typically 2 MREs a day . . . which is what you're calling easy to digest foods . . . so theoretically you're saying those calories were worth even more.

Although . . . seriously . . . requiring more energy to digest the food as a big reason that people just weren't obese? Any solid source on that concept? Regardless, without even arguing the concept of "their food took more energy to digest," there's plenty of overweight people who don't get there by stuffing themselves with super-processed junk foods. Fruit eaten now is the same as fruit eaten then, generally speaking; and there's plenty of prepared foods that haven't changed much, either. For example, the middle-east, parts of SE Europe, and NE Africa have had long standing problems with obesity from Date Palm consumption; and they're not processed, typically just dried, but they're naturally loaded with huge amounts of sugar to pack away as fat and, in more modern times (which, again, tracking this is only a more modern thing), have encouraged rampant amounts of diabetes.

Another glaring and prime example of high calorie foodstuff: Alcohol. Alcohol brewing techniques have changed, but alcohol is still alcohol. Alcohol as a chemical solution still digests the same and it's LOADED with calories that are EASILY turned into fat. Seriously, biologically speaking our body can (and does) quickly and readily transform alcohol into fat. We can also mention that until the mass importing of tea and coffee (which didn't really happen until the 17th century) that Europe basically subsisted off of a large quantity of Alcohol in their diet. Do we really think that didn't produce it's fair share of "beer bellies" back in the medieval ages; and not just among the aristocrats/clergy?

Besides, I'll say it again, tracking of metabolic and/or genetic diseases that effect weight is a modern thing. Classification of body types is a modern concept. Those have a huge impact on how we look at people in a modern setting. Again, we've seen plenty of historical records talking about the gear someone was required to keep on hand, but we've not seen anything on health requirements. It would seem that they didn't care much about body type or fitness for the masses, and instead cared whether or not you had the gear to be sent out on a battlefield. One could argue, "well that's because everyone was fit and ready to fight," but we could also argue, "population numbers weren't like they are now and they needed everyone they could get, regardless of fitness."

Some modern theories even suggest that soldiers were preferred to be thicker; and not so lean or skinny. We believe Gladiators developed a nice layer of protective bulky fat to help protect their organs from superficial wounds. Other theories suggest Viking hirdmen or housecarls, while still training to fight, were believed to get thick or even "semi-fat" for the sake of status, as well as being able to sustain themselves over a long campaign when food might get more scarce. Granted, that's not saying morbidly obese in any sense, but it's also not saying that only tiny skinny men qualify as soldiers for reenacting. On the other hand, it also shows that the idea of "fit" has changed a lot over the centuries, too. That's probably a whole other point of discussion that could be had over this whole concept of "reenacting authenticity."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sadly, it's worth pointing out that while we can debate this concept back-and-forth nonstop, a fairly large amount of the things we have to judge this off of is anecdotal and/or just theories off some loose data.

Take artwork for example. If we DARE use ancient/medieval artwork as a concrete basis for the weights and fitness (not saying you or anyone here is, just making a generic statement) of the people at the time then we sure as blazes need to then treat every depiction of weapons and armor as gospel, too. No one is going to do that, because the artwork is frankly horrible for anatomical accuracy and finer details of equipment, in most cases. However, look up renaissance portraits -since they started to heavily push realistic art style in that era- and you'll see plenty of overweight people who've been painted . . . but one could argue that they're of course more well-to-do if they can afford a portrait painting, so it's not accurate of the masses. At the same token, ancient Greek and Roman artwork heavily emphasized the "ideal man"; and even if someone didn't look like the "ideal man" artwork would still portray them as such.

All that leaves us with is that these sets of "evidence" got us nowhere; and mostly we're looking at theories and speculation.

"Men take only their needs into consideration, never their abilities." -Napoleon Bonaparte
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Dec, 2017 2:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bread is a good example to start with because it was so commonly eaten.

Modern strains of wheat contain around 3300 calories per kg. Older strains like emmer and eikhorn only contain around 3000 calories so you'd need to eat 10% more to get the same energy.

Older wheat strains contain over 20% protein compared to modern wheat, which only contains around 11%. Proteins are harder to digest than carbohydrates, requiring more energy, so you need to eat more to derive the same amount of energy from it. In this case around 5% more.

Older breads contained more fibre than many modern breads. Only 89% of the bread was digestible compared to 93% today. So they needed to eat 4% more to get the same amount of energy.

Steel rolling mills were developed in the 1870s, which enabled the kernel of the grain to be separated. Earlier stone mills kept all of the kernel in the flour. This flour contained more nutrients, but was harder to digest - around 5% more energy is required so you'd need to eat 5% more to get the same amount of energy..

Baking methods also changed. Older doughs contained more wild yeasts and lactic bacteria necessary to start fermentation. Modern bread uses a genetically modified version of the most aggressive strain of bacteria called saccharomyces cerevisiae. It creates bread that is easier to digest - requiring 5-10% less energy than earlier breads, which means that you'd have to eat 5-10% more older types of bread to get the same amount of energy.

So, when all of the above is taken into account, you'd need to eat around 30% more of an older type of bread to get the same amount of energy as a modern loaf of bread. This is only a simplified approximation (there a lot more factors involved) but it gives an idea of how much more food had to be eaten in the past to derive the same amount of energy as today. Today a 3 pound daily ration of fresh bread could sustain a heavy workload; in the past they would need 4 pounds.

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Last edited by Dan Howard on Tue 19 Dec, 2017 7:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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Gregory T Kallok




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Dec, 2017 7:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am.of the opinion that almost all of us over 45 could drop some weight
Keep your nose in the Wind and your eye on the skyline.
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Graham Shearlaw





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PostPosted: Tue 19 Dec, 2017 7:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Remmber that from the 1800's on theres often health tests to join the millatry, you must be so tall and weighty over x amount.
Even back to roman times theres a hight rule of 5'5 to join the leigon.
That is actually bigger then the US army demands today and there was even a range of fitness tests.

If you look at military diets there ment to be getting quite a lot of meat, often a pound to half a pound of meat, bread was often the same again or greater.

So no there not half starved dwarfs but maybe they where a bit leaner then us.

(One of theres day im going to have try renacting the diet as well as the battle)
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Ben Joy




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Dec, 2017 9:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Bread is a good example to start with because it was so commonly eaten.

Modern strains of wheat contain around 3300 calories per kg. Older strains like emmer and eikhorn only contain around 3000 calories so you'd need to eat 10% more to get the same energy.

Older wheat strains contain over 20% protein compared to modern wheat, which only contains around 11%. Proteins are harder to digest than carbohydrates, requiring more energy, so you need to eat more to derive the same amount of energy from it. In this case around 5% more.

Older breads contained more fibre than many modern breads. Only 89% of the bread was digestible compared to 93% today. So they needed to eat 4% more to get the same amount of energy.

Steel rolling mills were developed in the 1870s, which enabled the kernel of the grain to be separated. Earlier stone mills kept all of the kernel in the flour. This flour contained more nutrients, but was harder to digest - around 5% more energy is required so you'd need to eat 5% more to get the same amount of energy..

Baking methods also changed. Older doughs contained more wild yeasts and lactic bacteria necessary to start fermentation. Modern bread uses a genetically modified version of the most aggressive strain of bacteria called saccharomyces cerevisiae. It creates bread that is easier to digest - requiring 5-10% less energy than earlier breads, which means that you'd have to eat 5-10% more older types of bread to get the same amount of energy.

So, when all of the above is taken into account, you'd need to eat around 30% more of an older type of bread to get the same amount of energy as a modern loaf of bread. This is only a simplified approximation (there a lot more factors involved) but it gives an idea of how much more food had to be eaten in the past to derive the same amount of energy as today. Today a 3 pound daily ration of fresh bread could sustain a heavy workload; in the past they would need 4 pounds.

There's some major flaws in this logic and I'd love to see the sources on these more specific numbers, and the logic behind how you're arriving at your conclusions.

First off all, the USDA disagrees with you on how much wheat has changed over the years, citing that modern hybridization has only happened in the past 70 years and before that wheat strains have been basically unchanged for ~10k years. Even then, modern hybridization has been for yield more than nutritional changes (more on that to come).

They also cite that the whole grain wheat consumption actually results in MORE nutritional gain than wheat that is completely processed . . . therefore the breads you're referring to actually provided MORE and BETTER nutrition than what we eat today; and not the other way around. Therefore, it wasn't "harder to digest" but instead was actually providing more vitamins and minerals that people needed in their diet . . . that they might not have been getting elsewhere . . . that modern processed breads just husk aside and then use the bran and germ in other foods.

They also cite that one of the biggest important facets of wheat consumption is the higher amounts of protein in it compared to other plants, and about 20% of the protein 94 developing countries consume is coming from the same wheat that they've been eating for millennia. Again, this is a staple concept that hasn't changed over the millennia, and shows that bread hasn't been an "inhibiting" or "harder to digest" source of energy, but is a solid -if not primary- source of protein in their diets. Protein that was just as needed for the body then as it is now.

Source: (https://wheat.pw.usda.gov/ggpages/Wheat__Improvement-Myth_Versus_FactFINAL.pdf)

The Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine also disagrees with you. While the article talks about rediscovering other ancient grains as substitutes for wheat, they also heavily discuss the characteristics of modern and ancient wheat strands for the same purpose, noting the largest differences are actually in the structure of the plant and the yield of the harvest, NOT in the nutritional composition of the grains . . . noting only a 5% difference in characteristics across all wheats, but that difference provides for the desirable characteristics in creating different pastas and breads. They specifically cite that your Einkorn wheat is actually unchanged from modern cultivated versions, and the differences are that the ear stays in tact when ripe and the seeds are larger.

Source: (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2225411015000401)

Regardless, if you want to take up that side of the debate, then what about what I said about alcohol? Alcohol was even more prolific and more important staple in most diets than bread even. As I stated, that chemically hasn't changed at all and is readily turned into fat by the body . . . regardless of how it's made. One can even argue that alcohol was an even larger portion of the daily caloric intake and diet than even bread. Wine and ale were more readily available than bread, especially because they kept longer and weren't vulnerable to pests.

Again, one anecdotal and theoretical concept does not suddenly a proved theorem make. We're missing a HUGE amount of data on this and until someone is mystically able to recreate all of it (not really possible since we don't have the materials or historical records required at this time), then we're just stuck throwing theories and speculation at each other. However, when you're going to start throwing out specific numbers I think it'd benefit us all to have more solid sources on the data at hand.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Graham Shearlaw wrote:
Remmber that from the 1800's on theres often health tests to join the millatry, you must be so tall and weighty over x amount.
Even back to roman times theres a hight rule of 5'5 to join the leigon.
That is actually bigger then the US army demands today and there was even a range of fitness tests.

If you look at military diets there ment to be getting quite a lot of meat, often a pound to half a pound of meat, bread was often the same again or greater.

So no there not half starved dwarfs but maybe they where a bit leaner then us.

(One of theres day im going to have try renacting the diet as well as the battle)

I'd honestly and sincerely really love to know where that information comes from on these ancient fitness tests. However, one could argue that the world was vastly different after the fall of Rome; and we'd have to question whether the practices still existed. After all, we know a large quantity of the practices and lifestyle choices were lost, especially with the religious influences that came in after Rome's fall. There's a HUGE gap between the fall of Rome and the 1800's, so what were the standards in the meantime? Do we know?

Also, I'm curious if those rations were meant to build up the soldiers like the gladiators were. Was the typcial Roman soldier solid and fit, but with a nice layer of fat to help protect the organs? That doesn't make them obese, but it doesn't make them skinny little things, either.

"Men take only their needs into consideration, never their abilities." -Napoleon Bonaparte
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