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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
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PostPosted: Sat 12 Jul, 2008 3:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have no doubt that given a number of variables that mail could be sheared by a sword cut or slash. Like Dan says though I think it very uncommon. I I think thrusts have a greater chance than cuts and slashes do. I can think of a number of accounts dealing with weapons piercing mail but off hand nothing comes to mind about cutting through with a slash. That said I imagine Blunt Force Trauma must take its toll on such a flexible armour compared to plate and large plated scale and lamellar.

As a side note I just got back from the RA where I was able to look a fair amount of 14th and 15th century mail. I really am quite impressed by the variance in it. I was fortunate as my friend there had just taken the hauberk and coif off display and I got to see it without the glass barrier. Very interesting pieces of armour. I love how the face is actually weaved into the mail... though I was cautioned that much of the form comes from good lacing.

RPM
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C. Gadda





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PostPosted: Sat 12 Jul, 2008 10:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
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?


I need to translate the original find documentation. I've started with the German, but haven't done anything about the Romanian (other than to admire the pretty pictures). There are a LOT of books and articles I need to translate.

Yeah, a couple days ago I was re-reading Robinson and chanced across that reference to Strabo. Of course, all he says is something like "Strabo said the Celts invented it" and nothing more, which is not entirely helpful. I've downloaded the Latin version of Varro and what I believe to be the work that Strabo mentions Celts and maille in Greek, but I'll need to get some good English translations and do some translation work of my own to double check. I'm very curious as to the verbatim of what these writers said - sometimes the devil is in the details and it is quite possible that important clues have been glossed over by previous translators and the folks who simply cited their work without double checking.

It is also worthwhile to note that Varro wrote in the mid 1st cent. BC, and Strabo around the time of Augustus, both of them some two hundred years or more removed from the most recent date of Ciumeşti, so some caution is called for, here.

As for the Early Iron article, you can actually get it online: http://www.archaeometry.dk/Jern/Jouttijarvi,%...n-mail.pdf (sorry I didn't mention that sooner, I just assumed you had it since you are typically much better informed than I...)

This is what Jouttijärvi says: "This find was excavated by Gustav Rosenberg in 1921-22 and today, there is almost nothing remaining of the material deemed to be chain-mail. Rosenberg describes several square meters covered with heavily corroded material. But there is doubt as to whether this was chain-mail, or a layer of natural iron separation formed around plant roots, the occurrence of which can often be in the form of rings."

I tend to think he's right, but I can't prove that, obviously. To me, it seems stange that the material cannot be positively ID'd as maille. Even with some of the very corroded and fragmentary finds from other locations you can at least show that it was really maille, even if details such as wire thickness et al cannot be firmly established. It is overreaching for me to state that Hjortspring is discredited, but I think it is at least very doubtful. I suppose I should track down Rosenberg and see if he had the presence of mind to take photos of this corroded material he came across. *sigh* not another book...
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Nathan Quarantillo




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PostPosted: Sat 22 Aug, 2009 5:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hi all, this thread has been very informative. i am of the belief that mail is a very effective defense. however, it is not impenetrable. during one 13th century battle, an eyewitness (who exactly, and which battle escapes me at the moment) describes knights engaging each other. there was about 300 knights total, and only 9 died. and knowing the mindset of knights in battle, i bet almost every knight in that engagement got some sword work out on each other and received some blows. the fact that only 9 knights died testifies to the effectiveness of mail, yet those 9 knights had to die somehow. so its not totally impervious, but an excellent defense.

-Nathan Q

"Id rather be historically accurate than politically correct"
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 22 Aug, 2009 3:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Quarantillo wrote:
hi all, this thread has been very informative. i am of the belief that mail is a very effective defense. however, it is not impenetrable. during one 13th century battle, an eyewitness (who exactly, and which battle escapes me at the moment) describes knights engaging each other. there was about 300 knights total, and only 9 died. and knowing the mindset of knights in battle, i bet almost every knight in that engagement got some sword work out on each other and received some blows. the fact that only 9 knights died testifies to the effectiveness of mail, yet those 9 knights had to die somehow. so its not totally impervious, but an excellent defense.


I'm afraid that this contributes nothing to the body of evidence. None of the sources say that any of the victims died from a sword cut. There are dozens of ways that a man can be injured in a mail hauberk that has nothing to do with his armour being compromised.
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Harry J. Fletcher




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PostPosted: Sun 23 Aug, 2009 5:17 pm    Post subject: Can A Sword Cut Throught Chain Mail - An Analysis         Reply with quote

It depends on the quality of the chainmail and its construction for a start. How thick the links were and how they were joined such as rivetted or butted. I think it is quite probable that a sword could cut through chainmail; however, a more important question should be asked. What kind of injury or or death could be caused by a sword blow that did not penetrate chainmail? Blunt truama can break bones and cause severe bruising, collapse lungs, etc., and not even cut through the mail worn by a knight or man at arms. A knights main weapon was his lance and his secondary weapon was his sword. Many knights carried maces and short axes precisely to deal with chainmail defenses. Padded coats variously called aketons, gambesons, pourpoints, etc. to the leather jerkins worn over or even under the mail protection were meant to deal with concussive effects and cushion the blows dealt by an adversary to prevent blunt truama to the wearer.

During the time of the Battle of Hastings, the Norman Knights did not wear chainmail hose which exposed their legs to sword cuts. Their hauberks only extended slightly below their elbows which left their lower arms exposed to cuts. Their faces were vulnerable points as well as their feet. While wearing a helmet a strong sword blow could still render a severe concussive injury to the head resulting in death.

This is why padded clothing developed to defend against blows, then plate armour developed and so forth.

Hope maybe I have least started you thinking. The defenses worn by knights and men at arms developed gradually and we must realize that we are dealing with a time continuum and at each point on the continuum defenses increased as we go forward or decreased as we go bckward in the continuum though we sometimes find that there some similarities at certain points. Look at the Romans who were wearing segmented plate armour in the 1st centurary A.D. Surprised Surprised Idea

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Ryan J. Kadwell




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PostPosted: Sun 23 Aug, 2009 11:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As was mentioned in this thread literally years ago, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. My philosophy is is that if mail offered no protection against swords, you wouldn't have such an array of it's employment across thousands of years and dozens of cultures across thousands of miles. Likewise, if chain was absolutely the you-beaut be all and end all of protection against swords ... well, I guess someone would have gone and built a sword that could do the job.

Of course, no system of armour offered 100% complete protection, but the wearers of the armour employed it by way of reducing their risk of fatality or injury, which would stop them from doing their job: increasing the risk of fatality and injury to the other guys. Mail reduced that risk, and once bringing into the equation the thousands of variables such as the quality, manufacture, configuration and employment of the mail, and the same of the sword it is being tested against, and the two chappies putting both to the test, then you have that sliding scale of effectiveness vs. ineffectiveness. Even with all that taken into account, you're probably going to find that slider pretty far from either extreme end of the range.

Unless on one side you have a light-sabre or on the other end you have Level 50 Mithril-freaking-Diamond Shirt of Epicness, but historical texts do not bear either of those with much factuality.

Still, I am happy to settle it with one happily flippant three-word fragment of a sentence: "Better than nothin'"

Thank you, and kind regards.

Ryan

Geoffrey: You fool! As if it matters how a man falls down!

Richard: When the fall’s all that’s left, it matters a great deal.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Aug, 2009 3:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Can A Sword Cut Throught Chain Mail - An Analysis         Reply with quote

Harry J. Fletcher wrote:
Look at the Romans who were wearing segmented plate armour in the 1st centurary A.D. Surprised Surprised Idea


It would not be so surprising if one doesn't automatically assume that segmentata is "better" than mail.

If one wishes to discuss this further then use the search function first (since it has been covered before) and then start a new thread. It has no place here.
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Harry J. Fletcher




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Aug, 2009 6:35 pm    Post subject: I Think Mr Howard Was Myopic In His Comment of My post         Reply with quote

I do not wish to argue but if one wishes to evaluate chainmail then one must examine it in relation to what went before and what came after it and why. Furthermore it must be evaluated in the milieu in which it was used. Chainmail was used by the Romans from at least the 1st century BC until the 1st century AD when segmenta Lorica replaced it in some Roman Legions although it was not entirely replaced throughout the Roman army. During the Dark Ages and the Medieval Period chainmail was used virtually alone in conjunction with a helmet and shield.

The poorer folk who could not afford chainmail used padded jackets as a poorman's armour. Realizing this was a good idea when one's hide needed protection the knights and men at arms began using padded coats and vests to supplement their chainmail in the form of aketons, gambescons, pourpoints, and leather jerkins worn under or over the chainmail.

Next came plates held by straps to protect the shoulders (pouldrens) and plates to protect the elbows (couters) which eventually developed into a full harness of plate armour supplemented by chainmail.

It is impossible to separate chainmail from its milieu or from the context of a particular period. As a defense chainmail was never really replaced until the late middle ages but its deficiencies were noted and attempts were made to reduce them over time. Any discussion of chainmail cannot ignore this. In mentioning the segmented armour of the Romans I was merely pointing out that sometimes ideas come full circle. Witness the revival of modern chainmail in the form of sharkproof suits which divers now wear in shark infested waters or the gloves used when cleaning fish to stop cuts.

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 2:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mail is the most successful type of armour ever devised. It saw continuous use for the best part of two thousand years by virtually every metal using culture in the world. The Romans used it before, during, and after segmentata. Segmentata was peasant armour - the world's first munitions plate. It was issued to the lower classes and the cost of it was deducted from their pay. Those who could afford something better wore mail, scale, or a breastplate.
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Nathan Quarantillo




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 10:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

true. my post does ignore those facts. but every armour has ways to pierce it. (knightly deaths actually increased in battles after plate was the major armour. btw, not dissing it, i admit that its almost damn near impenetrable) but i was mainly pointing out the effectiveness of mail in a battle even where the combatants are (for the mostpart) quite skilled. as far as mail being cut, i think its really circumstantial. i believe that almost no weapons of the time could penetrate it in one hit. although rivets might have split, and things like that, but think that its a very effective defense. many historical (eyewitness) chronicolars will support its effectiveness. and as to the accounts of helm splittings and unbreakable (as opposed to anything else) mail in legends and tapestries and frescos in the medieval era, they (helm and hauberk splittings) might have been there for a shock factor. to see something thats (to the knightly folk, and me.... Laughing Out Loud Big Grin Laughing Out Loud ) so outrageously kick-butt. like how skaters will play games where they freaking jump of a 100ft stucture with no damage (wtf outrageous, but to them, awsome) and how we (or me) will habitually watch braveheart, lotr, troy, gladiator, and 300 even though the combat is freaking obviously (to us) wrong. yet we still go and say "ohh" whenever some unfortunate gets wasted all over the screen with blood and gore everywhere. same idea. and as far as the unbreakable mail goes, same thing. but forumites have argued that the knightly classes would have been disinterested if all of the stuff was like that anyway, think of it like with a gun to a modern soldier. think of the appeal of a gun that doesnt jam. im sure almost all troops would appreciate that. no "oh s***!!!" moments in combat when it jams. for a knight, thats a (legendary) guarantee that a link here and there woulnt break or be pierced, and no, "oh s***!!!" moments for the knight, because he doesnt have any little impact holes in his armour.
just my take.

-Nathan Q

"Id rather be historically accurate than politically correct"
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Mike Fawk





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PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 3:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First post so don't chew me up to badly. I just want to clarify some glaring inaccuracies I am seeing here, not trying to be rude but the word choice is giving me a headache. Firstly it is called "mail" or "maille" NOT "chainmail", chainmail is a fairly modern term devolped in the Victorian era, it is ridiculus, there is nothing chain like about maille. Maille is derived from the Latin word macula (net). so please don't call it chainmail, it's grating on the eyes and ears. Secondly don't refer to Roman armour as "Scale" another modern misnomer, the correct term is Lorica Squamata or simply Squamata. Thirdly the ease of cutting butted maille is irrelevant because historical maille was rivited or mixed rivited and solid. Fourth during the Norman conquest maille hose seems to have exsisted as it is represented on the Bayeux Tapestry, though only wealthier knights are wearing it. Fifth there is absolutly NO evidence that aketons and gambesons were devoloped from stand alone armour designed for poorer knights.
I know my post sound aggresive, but I really mean no offense, these faults just bug me and I can think of no other way to point them out without sounding rude.
Happy
-Mike
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 3:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Fawk wrote:
Secondly don't refer to Roman armour as "Scale" another modern misnomer, the correct term is Lorica Squamata or simply Squamata.
The Romans had other words for it. Plumata was one. "Scale" is a modern generic term for all of the various typologies and is more than adequate when conversing in English. Same with "mail". Why didn't you criticise the modern term "segmentata"? The Romans never used the word to describe this armour.
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Mike Fawk





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PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 5:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah but segmenta is so ingrained it will be impossible to stop, Scale and Scalemail are so new perhaps with effort they can be eradicated. The terms come from D&D and role-playing games!!! In my opinion squamata is really a lamellar variant, though my opinion is irrelevant. I just don't see why we can't use proper terms to describe things. In a modern context if you say squamata people will know what you're talking about, or he/she will go and look it up in which case you've just educated someone in the field. Isn't that the point of all this, learning from others and teaching what you know? Again not trying to attack anyone just trying to express my opinion.
-Mike
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Mike Fawk





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PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 5:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By the way if maille was the most succesful armour ever then it never would have fallen out of use or added to. Plate armour was more effective or it would never have been used. If maille was the most succesful armour no one would have worn it with a brigandine. For many years it was very efficiant, but eventually it became obsolete. Wink
Warm regards.
-Mike
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Justin King
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PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 7:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Fawk wrote:
First post so don't chew me up to badly. I just want to clarify some glaring inaccuracies I am seeing here, not trying to be rude but the word choice is giving me a headache. Firstly it is called "mail" or "maille" NOT "chainmail", chainmail is a fairly modern term devolped in the Victorian era, it is ridiculus, there is nothing chain like about maille. Maille is derived from the Latin word macula (net). so please don't call it chainmail, it's grating on the eyes and ears. Secondly don't refer to Roman armour as "Scale" another modern misnomer, the correct term is Lorica Squamata or simply Squamata. Thirdly the ease of cutting butted maille is irrelevant because historical maille was rivited or mixed rivited and solid. Fourth during the Norman conquest maille hose seems to have exsisted as it is represented on the Bayeux Tapestry, though only wealthier knights are wearing it. Fifth there is absolutly NO evidence that aketons and gambesons were devoloped from stand alone armour designed for poorer knights.
I know my post sound aggresive, but I really mean no offense, these faults just bug me and I can think of no other way to point them out without sounding rude.
Happy
-Mike


It's one thing to correct people, quite another to tell them how to speak or write. I, for one, can appreciate your points and the sentiments behind them but I think your wording is poorly chosen and likely to come off the wrong way to many readers.
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Mike Fawk





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PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 7:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Poin taken, I really meant no insult. Just one thing though, aren't you being a bit hypocritical? Well I understand your sentiment, it is up to the moderators (I believe) to correct someones posts, not a fellow forumite. Confused To clarify I was not trying to correct anyones thoughts or word choice, simply expressing my opinion on the word choice if that makes sense. If I have broken the rules or forum etiquette in any way let me know (moderators?). As I have already expressed I mean NO insult to ANYONE. I am simply stating MY opinion. I read the rules and do not believe I have broken any, if I have please explain.
Best wishes.
-Mike Happy
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 26 Aug, 2009 5:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Hawk wrote:
By the way if maille was the most succesful armour ever then it never would have fallen out of use or added to. Plate armour was more effective or it would never have been used. If maille was the most succesful armour no one would have worn it with a brigandine. For many years it was very efficiant, but eventually it became obsolete. Wink
Warm regards.


This might be true for a very small part of history and a very small part of the world. Mail was used far far longer by a far far greater number of cultures. Even in Western Europe mail never stopped being worn - even after it cost more to make than plate.

FWIW "maille" is a medieval French term. If one was writing in medieval French or in a medieval French context then this would be the correct term. In modern English the term is "mail".
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 26 Aug, 2009 5:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Hawk wrote:
I just don't see why we can't use proper terms to describe things. In a modern context if you say squamata people will know what you're talking about,

I'm writing in English, not Latin. We aren't even sure what terms the Romans use for what typologies or even if they bothered to distinguish between typologies. If you want to write in Latin then squamata would be one term you could use. Another would be plumata. The closest English translation would be "scale" and that is the best term to use. Most of the time the latin sources simply use lorica.
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Justin King
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PostPosted: Wed 26 Aug, 2009 6:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Hawk wrote:
Poin taken, I really meant no insult. Just one thing though, aren't you being a bit hypocritical? Well I understand your sentiment, it is up to the moderators (I believe) to correct someones posts, not a fellow forumite. Confused To clarify I was not trying to correct anyones thoughts or word choice, simply expressing my opinion on the word choice if that makes sense. If I have broken the rules or forum etiquette in any way let me know (moderators?). As I have already expressed I mean NO insult to ANYONE. I am simply stating MY opinion. I read the rules and do not believe I have broken any, if I have please explain.
Best wishes.
-Mike Happy

I don't think you have broken any rules, and as far as I am aware, I have not either in my response. As I said, I think your wording came off a little strong and I expressed my opinion. If you and/or the Mods decide to take issue that is up to you/them. This statement from your original post is what occasioned my response-

" so please don't call it chainmail, it's grating on the eyes and ears. Secondly don't refer to Roman armour as "Scale" another modern misnomer, the correct term is Lorica Squamata or simply Squamata"

Again, I think it was poorly worded in that you seem to be actually trying to dictate how others speak or write, which is not only rude, it is unconstitutional in this country. I can call mail a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, that is a right that I have, whatever you may think of it.
Note that I have not told you to say this, or not to say that. Freedom of speech and all. I merely expressed an opinion that your wording could have been better chosen.
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Taylor Ellis




PostPosted: Wed 26 Aug, 2009 6:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan, if you don't mind me asking you directly, what is you opinion on the robustness of mail in say late 12th century Europe? I can appreciate that knights of this period were hard if not impossible, to kill without forcing a dagger or lance through the mail. My question is why did Europeans of this period persist with the lenticular type X, XI and XII swords? Obviously swords were not the primary weapon of the knightly class, nor were all potential opponents fully armoured. Making the assumption that our ancestors were intelligent and capable of adapting their weapons to their environment, why did type XV (et al) swords not turn up in the late 11th century instead of the mid 14th? Why use a sword that would be obviously more ineffective than it had to be?

My own opinion leans toward lenticular sectioned swords generating the most concussive power without compromising their cutting effectiveness against unarmoured foes. If this is right, perhaps plate armour's primary advantage over mail is protection against that percussive force?

Please understand I'm not trying to undermine your position or be a smart arse, I've genuinely enjoyed reading the posts you've made here over the years, and would appreciate your thoughts on this.
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