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Erik D. Schmid




Location: St. Cloud, MN
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Thu 09 Dec, 2004 8:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I understand that you were going to soon have a complete lorica hamata and were going to do some tests of the hamata (and subarmoralis). Did you get a chance to complete the shirt and test it? If so, what results?


Well Nathan, the shirt is in the final stages of completion, but this is not going to be the one I am going to test on. I have four others in the works that will be used for testing. The sample you handled at Matt's is of a size I am doing for a famous client. The shirt is styled after the cavalry type hamatae. Instead of having only a "U" shaped doubling over the shoulders, it will be in the shape of a short cape or shawl. That link size is very close to those used in the pieces that were found at Carlingwark Loch. Due to their small size they are a bit of a pain in the rear to work with. But, the look of the finished product is well worth the effort.

Quote:
Also, the earliest maille find you report, are you speaking of Eastern Scythian finds? What was the earliest maille find? I am aware of the Ciumesti find, of course, but earlier finds I only read of by reference to "even earlier Scythian finds".


No, I am speaking of the Romanian find as it is the one that is most commonly accepted by academia as being the earliest. I am sure their could be more out there waitring to be discovered. The reason the Scythian finds are nto regards to highly is due to the nomadic nature of the people. In order to produce mail you need a manufacturing infrastructure that is not really attainable by a nomadic culture.

Quote:
As a side note, after viewing the particular piece of Roman maille, it almost immediately answered some of my questions, as to why it may have been superceded by segmentata in part, and as to its effectiveness, much more.


The segmentata never superceded the hamata. Both were used together.

Quote:
The Roman maille is so extremely fine, that is approaches a jeweler level of workmanship on each link. The cost to produce quality maille of this sort must have been tremendous. I would say that likely production cost played a large role in the rise of the segmentata over the hamata.


All mail shares this characteristic not just Roman mail. If the cost of production was so high, why then did the segmentata get phased out and and not the hamata? As I have said before in order to produce mail in any quantity there needs to be a very large manufacturing infrastructure. Let's break this down. The starting point for mail or any other object made from metal is the mining of the raw material. This material is then refined. For wire to be made the material has to be refined to a very high degree. In fact some of the Roman links that have been analyzed have been shown to be almost pure iron. Without this degree of refining the material will be unable to be effectively drawn into wire. And for those of you who think that wire drawing did not come into being until the Middle Ages think again. The pieces of mail that I have studied from before and after the Roman era are made from links that are extremely uniform in size and shape. Without the ability to draw wire it would not be possible to achieve this degree of uniformity. Next in line are the people who manufacture the solid links, those who make the riveted links, and those who actually create the garments.

The labor needed for production of the segmentata was much less than that needed for mail. If you lower the production of mail you are now left with a large number of people who are not working. Since mail never went of style or production and the segmentata did, what does that tell us? Matt can give a better view of this than I can though.

Quote:
Jeremy:

We tend to take the best surviving examples of arms and armor and classify them as what was used during a certain period. However, as you said, there would of course be a wide variance in quality (and there are lots of reasons to assume that what still exists today is often on the higher bend of that curve).

Patrick:

Absolutely. That's one of the most important things we should keep in mind when discussing these issues. The ancients were great recyclers. They never threw anything away as long as it was usable, especially labor intensive things like armor and weapons. There's also the issue of quality to consider. Marketing and profit were big issues then just like today. Not every weapon or piece of armor was of the highest quality. Some of it is downright crap, just like today.


I would caution against making too broad a statement concerning this theory. I say ths because it does not always hold true for all items. Once you start down this line of thought you are immediately going to encounter the fringe theories. The largest and most well known one that will show up is the one that pertains to butted mail. We know that butted mail was only used for ceremonial items as it is worthless for combat armour. Riveted mail can be made one of two ways. It is either good or it isn't. There is no middle ground here. If mail is not of good quality the person purchasing it will notice it right off. As such the company producing it will not be in business for long. With the exception of later period pieces, late 15th and into the 16th century, all of the mail I have studied has been of good quality. This is especially true of mail that was used as more of a primary defense. Now, there were some articles written that called into question the quality of mail, but the authors had failed to take into account the oxidation and corrosion that the links had experienced over time. They were going off the assumption that this is wat the mail looked like when new. Without a background in actual mail manufacture it is not possible to write about the subject in an accurate manner.
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Mark A





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PostPosted: Thu 09 Dec, 2004 2:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

About the 'Scythian finds' in Romania. What part of Romania was it? Also, when are they dated to? The Celts were very active in the Balkans in the 3nd Century BC, one group even crossing the Bosporus into Asia Minor.
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Mark A





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PostPosted: Thu 09 Dec, 2004 3:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For as labor intensive mail is, it only concists of three pieces, welded rings, rivets and riveted rings. All of these are made out of wire. The shear number of shirts of mail required by the Roman army means the must have had an easy way to mass produce iron wire. If not mass produced in the modern sense, they have specialist wire makers. And who is to say that the Romans didn't keep cost down by using sweat shop labor to make their mail.

IMO, Segmentata doesn't lend itself to be manufactured in this way. The bands hand to be made and shaped, holes needed to be drilled and hings and straps need to be riveted on. The setting for this work would have to been more like a machine shop then a sweat shop. Fewer, but more expensive labor, using more expensive tools.
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Nathan Bell





Joined: 21 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Thu 09 Dec, 2004 3:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark A wrote:
About the 'Scythian finds' in Romania. What part of Romania was it? Also, when are they dated to? The Celts were very active in the Balkans in the 3nd Century BC, one group even crossing the Bosporus into Asia Minor.


The Ciumesti find is the Romanian find we are referring to, it is a Celtic find, and I believe dated to 4th century BC. It is the very famous find which included 2 type of mail. It is also famous for the notable "bird helmet" found in situ with the mail.

Some authors refer to separate "Scythian finds" earlier than the Ciumesti find, and it is these comments I was seeking answers for.

Analysis of Roman mail (you can find one article on Erik's site) indicate that the solid rings were likely punched from a sheet of iron, based upon analysis of inclusion patterns within the links.


Last edited by Nathan Bell on Thu 09 Dec, 2004 3:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Erik D. Schmid




Location: St. Cloud, MN
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Thu 09 Dec, 2004 3:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark,

I did not say they were Scythian finds. The 5th century BC Romanian finds are regarded as Celtic in origin.

Quote:
For as labor intensive mail is, it only concists of three pieces, welded rings, rivets and riveted rings. All of these are made out of wire.


Could you provide the source for the information contained in this statement?

Quote:
IMO, Segmentata doesn't lend itself to be manufactured in this way. The bands hand to be made and shaped, holes needed to be drilled and hings and straps need to be riveted on. The setting for this work would have to been more like a machine shop then a sweat shop. Fewer, but more expensive labor, using more expensive tools.


I disagree, but before I explain why could you tell us how you came by these conclusions?
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Nathan Bell





Joined: 21 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Thu 09 Dec, 2004 3:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Erik D. Schmid wrote:

Well Nathan, the shirt is in the final stages of completion, but this is not going to be the one I am going to test on. I have four others in the works that will be used for testing. The sample you handled at Matt's is of a size I am doing for a famous client. The shirt is styled after the cavalry type hamatae. Instead of having only a "U" shaped doubling over the shoulders, it will be in the shape of a short cape or shawl. That link size is very close to those used in the pieces that were found at Carlingwark Loch. Due to their small size they are a bit of a pain in the rear to work with. But, the look of the finished product is well worth the effort.


Ah yes, I am quite familiar with the shirt type you are describing. Happy In fact, it's very similar to the "Gallic" pattern of shirt I have currently in (ahistorical) butted form. Also a similar form that it is speculated that the Ciumesti shirt took (for those of you not familiar with the site find), and the Gallic version of this "shoulder drape" doubling form is appears represented in period statuary, notably the warrior statue from the Gallic santuary at Entremont. (for those non-Gaul obsessed in the audience Happy )

So looking forward very much to seeing the completed shirt! If I had a few thousand $$ to spend on it, is it very nearly the exact shirt form I would attempt to commission from you. I do agree that the intense effort it must take seems to pay off, the sample I saw was gorgeous.


N
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Jack McGregor Lynn





Joined: 12 Oct 2004

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PostPosted: Mon 13 Dec, 2004 4:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with most of you in a general way but I had some ideas to throw out.
First in reference to this quote.

Joseph C. wrote:
Alina,

However, to bolster the effectiveness of armour, there is Beowulf. If I remember correctly, maille was considered quite effective by the author who called it, "the bane of swords." So, at least one Medieval source considered it proof against swords.


I don't recognize this exact reference but I'd like to point out that Beowulf talks alot about men and equipment that are exceptional. I just think that the story might be referring to the maile of some character(s) as especially good. In this case it might be referring to the exception instead of the rule in terms of armor and its capacities.
Also, the Mongols were mentioned earlier. I know that the Mongols used a type of composite bo reinforced with bone or antler to increase its power. Also, if I remember correctly, the Mongols used a wide variety of arrows for different purposes. I think that you're referring to the Mongols little jaunt into Poland when your speak of Mongols having great effect on knights (You might also be referring to some other battles but this one is the most well known in which Mongol archers defeat European knights). In this paticular case the army the Mongols was facing was comparatively inexperienced. I know that the Polish monarch planned to use the Mongols as training for the crusades.
So, where your point about the Mongols is well taken, I would point out that the dramatic effect the Mongols arrows had on the Polish might have been a case of very good archer with very good leaders taking out their very good bows and using very good arrows on not so good knights. I think normally you would get more mixed results.
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Jack McGregor Lynn





Joined: 12 Oct 2004

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PostPosted: Mon 13 Dec, 2004 5:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another thought I had about sword cuts on maile is that, where a draw cut seems to me as if it would be limited in its effectiveness perhaps a ripping strike where the tip caught the maile and them the sword ripped it open. I support a blunt trauma hypothesis when it comes to greatswords, although when checking out the type XIIa here http://www.algonet.se/~enda/oakeshott_eng.htm I thought it looked like it would have a strong thrust.
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Erik D. Schmid




Location: St. Cloud, MN
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Tue 14 Dec, 2004 7:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jack,

What I see happening here is the person getting his blade caught in the opponents armour. What this will do is make it easier for the person being struck to grasp the others blade rendering it useless. I really don't see the blade tip ripping the links open either. It may deform them a bit, but that's about all.

http://www.erikds.com
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Steve Fabert





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PostPosted: Tue 14 Dec, 2004 8:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Erik D. Schmid wrote:

What I see happening here is the person getting his blade caught in the opponents armour. What this will do is make it easier for the person being struck to grasp the others blade rendering it useless.


Twentieth Century bayonets showed a similar problem. A broad blade would be caught in the target's ribcage if it went in at the wrong angle, leaving the user without either bayonet or rifle. Spike bayonets became popular again after this lesson was relearned. Whether a penetrating thrust leaves your sword blade caught in mail, or your bayonet caught between ribs, the result is the same, loss of your weapon.
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Jack McGregor Lynn





Joined: 12 Oct 2004

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PostPosted: Thu 16 Dec, 2004 6:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ya, your probably right about the ripping thing, although getting a blade caught in your ribcage doesn't sound like fun for either of the parties involved.
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C. Gadda





Joined: 20 Aug 2007

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PostPosted: Thu 03 Jul, 2008 11:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[quote="Erik D. Schmid"]
Quote:

Quote:
Also, the earliest maille find you report, are you speaking of Eastern Scythian finds? What was the earliest maille find? I am aware of the Ciumesti find, of course, but earlier finds I only read of by reference to "even earlier Scythian finds".


No, I am speaking of the Romanian find as it is the one that is most commonly accepted by academia as being the earliest. I am sure their could be more out there waitring to be discovered. The reason the Scythian finds are nto regards to highly is due to the nomadic nature of the people. In order to produce mail you need a manufacturing infrastructure that is not really attainable by a nomadic culture.



The earliest maille find is from Guljaj Gorod near what is now Kiev in a Scythian context and is datable to the 4th (?) century B.C. This is documented in Minns "Scythians and Greeks," pp. 173-174. Even though this work is dated (originally published in 1913) the author does seem to know what he's talking about - for example, he clearly distinguishes between the "iron coat of mail" in question and an "iron scale hauberk" found in another burial. Also, the drawing of the plan of the tomb, though crude, clearly shows a maille hauberk of some sort, rather than scale armour (alas that photos or detailed drawings of the maille such as found in Englehardt's bog excavations at Vimose, et al, were not executed!).

As to who made it, that is less clear. Certainly it could be the result of trade or plunder. However, one should not dismiss a Scythian origin out of hand. The problem is that a lot of folks hear the word "nomadic" and assume that just means "riding around on horses and shooting people with bows" and cease to give it any more thought. In fact, there is hard evidence that corroberates Herodotus' claims of "agricultural Scythians," who were more settled than their close cousins in the steppes, and may well have had the needed "manufacturing infrastructure." One should also consider that the distinctive scale armour and swords of the Scythians had to come from somewhere... Sadly, Scythian culture seems little studied in the West, and most of the really hard core research is all in Russian and thus largely inaccesible to most.

Do we have any folks fluent in Russian who happen to live in or around Kiev that might be able to track down the original artefact? I would assume it's no longer extant, with all the violence that's occurred in the last century in that region, but it might be worth looking into.
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David Evans




Location: Rotherham, West Riding
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PostPosted: Thu 03 Jul, 2008 12:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Alina Boyden wrote:
what I'm arguing is not that we should take the sources at face value without scrutinizing them, but rather, that we should accept that there is truth in what the sources say as well - and most importantly, when the sources say something that disagrees with archaeology we shouldn't throw either form of evidence out but we should stop and think and try our best to resolve those disagreements in an intellectual environment.


We don't disagree. I, too, am a trained historian and sometimes find conflicting contemporary accounts in the course of my research. I resolve those conflicts in exactly this manner, when possible, and simply describe the conflicts when resolution is not possible.


Good God! If I didn't find conflicting sources I'd be even more worried!
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Jonathan Atkin





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PostPosted: Fri 04 Jul, 2008 1:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi guys, been reading the forums for a long time never posted though but I thought this might be of intrest to some here. As most of these gentlemen are wearing mail and a few other assorted peices of gear. I assume all these poleaxes and swords are dulled but would help give some insight? Well anyways http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDoj5ZZHFuw&feature=related WTF?!
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Marcos Cantu





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PostPosted: Sun 06 Jul, 2008 3:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

there are often comments made on how even if a sword (or other weapon) fails to penetrate a type of armor, that there is a good chance that the blunt trauma can still kill or incapacitate. Has anyone ever considered using current body armor testing standards to test this?

Basically the test involves a 24" x 24" x 5.5" box filled with a type of modeling clay (the NIJ recommends Roma Pastilina No. 1 modeling clay). The armor is strapped to the front of the box where the clay is exposed. In order to pass, a piece of armor must stop the projectile and the backface signature (the dent, basically) in the clay cannot be more than 44mm deep. There are many more aspects to these tests in regards to bullets but I think that this is as far as one would have to go for our purposes...

Here is a link to the body armor test procedures...

http://www.nlectc.org/pdffiles/0101.04RevA.pdf
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 06 Jul, 2008 3:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

C. Gadda wrote:
As to who made it, that is less clear. Certainly it could be the result of trade or plunder. However, one should not dismiss a Scythian origin out of hand. The problem is that a lot of folks hear the word "nomadic" and assume that just means "riding around on horses and shooting people with bows" and cease to give it any more thought. In fact, there is hard evidence that corroberates Herodotus' claims of "agricultural Scythians," who were more settled than their close cousins in the steppes, and may well have had the needed "manufacturing infrastructure." One should also consider that the distinctive scale armour and swords of the Scythians had to come from somewhere... Sadly, Scythian culture seems little studied in the West, and most of the really hard core research is all in Russian and thus largely inaccesible to most..

There is more than just the Ciumnesti find. At least two Roman sources state that mail was developed by the Gauls. On top of that the two finds in question (Gallic, Scythian) have large error factors in dating. The Ciumnesti find has been dated as early as 5th C BC for example. There is also a third find that is almost as early in Scandinavia. Other items found at the site suggest that it has Celtic/Gallic influences. The body of evidence is leaning towards a Gallic development not a Scythian one.

Regarding Marcos' suggestion, I agree and have been urging this method of blunt trauma testing for a few years now. It will quite easily debunk the arguments of the longbow crowd.
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C. Gadda





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PostPosted: Sun 06 Jul, 2008 8:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
There is more than just the Ciumnesti find. At least two Roman sources state that mail was developed by the Gauls. On top of that the two finds in question (Gallic, Scythian) have large error factors in dating. The Ciumnesti find has been dated as early as 5th C BC for example. There is also a third find that is almost as early in Scandinavia. Other items found at the site suggest that it has Celtic/Gallic influences. The body of evidence is leaning towards a Gallic development not a Scythian one.


Oh, I agree, Dan. I'm simply saying that we can't rule out the Scythians merely because they were "nomads." That is a weak and unsupportable line of reasoning, at least based on what little information is available in English on their culture. That said, even I am skeptical of the dating. The shirt as drawn in the grave plan has short sleeves, which I believe were a much later style. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the grave isn't even Scythian, and that it belongs to the Sarmatians, Alans, or even Rus! Given that the only extant source I'm aware of is from 1913 and that the original material in all probability does not exist anymore, I too have serious doubts as to how secure the dating is.

It is also entirely possible for it to be an early Scythian grave, but that the maille came from the Celts through various diabolic means! With so little to go on the possibilities are broader than I should like.

W.R.T. Ciumeşti, what is the latest dating on that? I have some of the original material (both the Romanian publication on the grave and the German discussion on the helm and armour) but that is so old I dare not trust their dates. Is there some more recent and reliable scholarship that gives a better date and, most important, a solid rationale?

You state that "at least" two Roman sources claim the Gauls invented maille. I am familiar with Marcus Terentius Varro (in De Lingua Latina, V, 116) but who is(are) the other(s)?

Which Scandinavian site are you referring to? Keep in mind that Hjortspring has been discredited (the "maille" found there was actually comprised of naturally occuring "rings" of bog iron (see Jouttijärvi Early Iron - The Manufacture of Chain-Mail. )
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Jeffrey Hull




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PostPosted: Fri 11 Jul, 2008 11:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is dismaying to me that Ms Boyden should have encountered such resistance at SFI to the idea and the actuality of swords being capable of shearing through maille when the strike is done with great force and proper angular impact, and perhaps a little luck too.

Yet it is achievable. Happy

Some folks need to get real about what a sword can and cannot do.

Maybe some dudes would benefit from more doing with their swords and less talking about their swords.

JH

Knightly Dueling - the Fighting Arts of German Chivalry
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 12 Jul, 2008 12:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe some dudes would benefit from studying mail armour that was actually used historically rather than basing unfounded opinons on the rubbish being imported from India. FWIW nobody has claimed that mail is invulnerable to sword cuts. The claim is that the chances of a one-handed sword shearing through historical mail armour under battlefield conditions are so low as to be statistically negligible.

Last edited by Dan Howard on Sat 12 Jul, 2008 1:03 am; edited 1 time in total
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 12 Jul, 2008 12:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

C. Gadda wrote:
W.R.T. Ciumeşti, what is the latest dating on that? I have some of the original material (both the Romanian publication on the grave and the German discussion on the helm and armour) but that is so old I dare not trust their dates. Is there some more recent and reliable scholarship that gives a better date and, most important, a solid rationale?
Nope. I have seen dates that range from 5th C through to 3rd C BC.

Quote:
You state that "at least" two Roman sources claim the Gauls invented maille. I am familiar with Marcus Terentius Varro (in De Lingua Latina, V, 116) but who is(are) the other(s)?

I recall Strabo mentioning mail being Gallic but, typically, can't find the cite.

Quote:
Which Scandinavian site are you referring to? Keep in mind that Hjortspring has been discredited (the "maille" found there was actually comprised of naturally occuring "rings" of bog iron (see Jouttijärvi Early Iron - The Manufacture of Chain-Mail. )
Hjortspring is the one I was thinking of. Do you have a more complete cite for the Jouttijärvi paper?
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