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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Wed 08 Oct, 2014 4:20 pm    Post subject: Fabric Armour in Pliny's History         Reply with quote

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/holland/pliny8.html
CHAP. XLVIII.
Divers kinds of wooll and clothes.

"Moreover, wool of it selfe driven togither into a felt without spinning or weaving, serveth to make garments with: and if vinegre be used in the working therof, such felts are of good proofe to bere off the edge and point of the sword; yea and more than that, they will checke the force of the fire."
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Oct, 2014 6:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

HUH! Nice find! In all the years of bickering about ancient organic armor, I don't recall that bit coming up. It's certainly suggestive. Though if you make it past the elephants (GOODness the man does love his elephants!), Pliny does discuss dragons briefly. So there is the danger of this mention of vinegar-soaked felt armor being shrugged off as wishful thinking.

FASCinating, thanks!

Matthew
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Oct, 2014 11:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Suetonius said that Galba wore linen armour on one occasion at least. I can't recall ever reading anything about felt. Good one.
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2014 12:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How exactly is the vinegar supposed to aid the defensive qualities? Or was it simply used as a cleaning agent, and Pliny mistakenly thought it had something to do with making it more effective?
ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Márk György Kis





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PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2014 1:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart Shearer wrote:
How exactly is the vinegar supposed to aid the defensive qualities? Or was it simply used as a cleaning agent, and Pliny mistakenly thought it had something to do with making it more effective?


Obviously the smell fends off barbarians and persians alike!
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2014 5:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart Shearer wrote:
How exactly is the vinegar supposed to aid the defensive qualities? Or was it simply used as a cleaning agent, and Pliny mistakenly thought it had something to do with making it more effective?


Don't know! SOMEone is going to have to try it out and see. I know there are folks who swear by stiffening their reconstructed ancient linen armor with brine or other recipes, but so far no one has come up with any documentation for that.

Matthew
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2014 8:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Aztec ichcahuipilli was also reportedly soaked in brine to stiffen it. My dad and other US Marines have related to me that they used to wash uniforms by tying them in a bundle tied to a rope and throwing them off the fantail / stern of ships. The sea water with agitation from the screws left the uniforms clean, bleached, and stiff enough to hold a crease set by hand.

Felt armor couldn't be washed by scrubbing on a rock or washboard without shredding the fabric, so a cleaning solution like vinegar would make sense, but I've never heard of vinegar stiffening things or making them fireproof. Then again, I've never tried burning my clothes on purpose.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2014 1:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice find Len.
Éirinn go Brách
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2014 3:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I didn't understand how wool was "driven into felt without spinning or weaving" until I read this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felt It sounds like Pliny is describing Needle felt. Notice the part about being strong and can be used to make sculpture. Sounds like something that might offer some protection against a blade.
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2014 4:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is what I've found on the web. Felting happens with a change in pH, moisture and friction. The change in pH can be achieved with acids or alkalis. Vinegar is acetic acid and water. The vinegar also acts as a disinfectant, stopping the felt from rotting. The How To sites for making felt usually include adding some vinegar.
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Fri 10 Oct, 2014 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some Mongolian poetry (from here http://www.feltmongolia.mn/traditinoal.html )
Your felt is
Whiter than snow
Harder than bone
Smoother than ice
More valuable than silver


Check out these Mongolian coats
http://www.face-music.ch/bi_bid/trad_costumes_en.html
Compare to the Sutton Hoo coats http://www.millennia.f2s.com/dancing.htm
The first site has their felt clothing made from camel hair, the second site doesn't mention this.
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Shahril Dzulkifli




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Oct, 2014 5:11 am    Post subject: Fabric Armour in Pliny's History         Reply with quote

No one knew that a piece of fabric can be turned into armour as stated by Pliny himself.
Unfortunately there is no proof of fabric armour which survives until this day.

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

- Marcus Aurelius
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Oct, 2014 6:20 am    Post subject: Re: Fabric Armour in Pliny's History         Reply with quote

Shahril Dzulkifli wrote:
No one knew that a piece of fabric can be turned into armour as stated by Pliny himself.
Unfortunately there is no proof of fabric armour which survives until this day.

Fabric amour has been used all over the world for more than three thousand years. We have surviving examples dating right back to the Bronze Age. There are dozens of intact examples and hundreds of fragments. You could start with these.

Two of them are in the Holstentor Museum in Lübeck
A partial example is in a Stendal museum - the chest section is still intact.
One is in the Musée des beaux-arts in Chartres
One is in the parish church of Rothwell, near Leeds
The Victoria and Albert Museum has a layered cotton example from India (called a peti)
The Royal Armouries has another peti from the arsenal of Tipu Sultan.

There are also plenty of texts telling us how they were constructed. Here are a few:

Ordinances of Louis XI of France (15th C)
"And first they must have for the said Jacks, 30, or at least 25 folds of cloth and a stag's skin; those of 30, with the stag's skin, being the best cloth that has been worn and rendered flexible, is best for this purpose, and these Jacks should be made in four quarters. The sleeves should be as strong as the body, with the exception of the leather, and the arm-hole of the sleeve must be large, which arm-hole should be placed near the collar, not on the bone of the shoulder, that it may be broad under the armpit and full under the arm, sufficiently ample and large on the sides below. The collar should be like the rest of the Jack, but not too high behind, to allow room for the sallet. This Jack should be laced in front, and under the opening must be a hanging piece [porte piece] of the same strength as the Jack itself. Thus the Jack will be secure and easy, provided that there be a doublet [pourpoint] without sleeves or collar, of two folds of cloth, that shall be only four fingers broad on the shoulder; to which doublet shall be attached the chausess. Thus shall the wearer float, as it were, within his jack and be at his ease; for never have been seen half a dozen men killed by stabs or arrow wounds in such Jacks, particularly if they be troops accustomed to fighting."

Dominic Mancini (15th C): writing about the archers in Richard III's army
"They do not wear any metal armour on their breast nor any other part of their body, except for the better sort who have breastplates and suits of armour. Indeed, the common soldiery have more comfortable doublets that reach down below the loins and are stuffed with tow or some other material. They say that the softer the garment the better do they withstand the blows of arrows and swords, and besides that in summer they are lighter and in the winter they are more serviceable than iron."

Howard Household Accounts (15th C):
"I took to the doublet maker, to make me a doublet of fence; for every four quarters: 18 folds thick of white fustian, and 4 folds of linen cloth, and a fold of black fustian to put without."

Companion of Hernan Cortez (16th C)
"The armour which they use in war are certain loose garments like doublets made of quilted cotton, a finger and a half thick, and sometimes two fingers; they are very strong. Over them they wear a doublet and hose all one garment, which are corded behind. This garment is made of thick cloth and is covered with a layer of feathers of different colours, making a fine effect… for neither arrows nor darts pierce them, but are thrown back without making any wound, and even with swords it is difficult to penetrate through them."

Aguado, History of Venezuela (16th C)
"Out of sacking or light linen cloths they make a kind of surcoat that they call 'escaupil'. These fall below the knee, and sometimes to the calf. They are all stuffed with cotton, to the thickness of three fingers. The layers of cotton are quilted between folds of linen and sewed with rough thread…"

The Irish "Cattle Raid of Cooley" (7th C) says that Cúchulainn was wearing armour made of 27 layers of linen (liente) and an apron made from the hide of yearling oxen.

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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Oct, 2014 8:46 am    Post subject: Re: Fabric Armour in Pliny's History         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:


The Irish "Cattle Raid of Cooley" (7th C) says that Cúchulainn was wearing armour made of 27 layers of linen (liente) and an apron made from the hide of yearling oxen.


I thought that oldest preserved writings of ' Tain Bo Cuailnge' were from 12th century, other from 13th and forth.

Modern reconstructions seem to be mainly from 16th century redactions?
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Oct, 2014 2:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Fabric Armour in Pliny's History         Reply with quote

Bartek Strojek wrote:
I thought that oldest preserved writings of ' Tain Bo Cuailnge' were from 12th century, other from 13th and forth.

Modern reconstructions seem to be mainly from 16th century redactions?

Yep. I originally wrote 13th century but changed it back to 7th after I discovered that the later versions are unlikely to have changed much from the earlier ones, based on other texts. The date is irrelevant to this thread as I really only had to provide a single example from any time period to counter the claim.

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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Oct, 2014 6:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Fabric Armour in Pliny's History         Reply with quote

Shahril Dzulkifli wrote:
No one knew that a piece of fabric can be turned into armour as stated by Pliny himself.
Unfortunately there is no proof of fabric armour which survives until this day.


I think we might be misinterpreting your statements! There are certainly a number of very clear references in Greek and Roman literature to linen armor, from Homer to Plutarch. So fabric armor certainly existed. *Felt* armor is more of a question--this is the first suggestion I've heard of it from the ancient world. Though I understand that it was used by Magyars or Avars, later on.

Matthew
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William P




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PostPosted: Thu 22 Jan, 2015 4:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Mart Shearer wrote:
How exactly is the vinegar supposed to aid the defensive qualities? Or was it simply used as a cleaning agent, and Pliny mistakenly thought it had something to do with making it more effective?


Don't know! SOMEone is going to have to try it out and see. I know there are folks who swear by stiffening their reconstructed ancient linen armor with brine or other recipes, but so far no one has come up with any documentation for that.

Matthew



salt water DEFINATELY makes fabric stiff i notice it whenever i goto the beach actually, hapopens to my t shirt, it becomes a bit stiffer if it ggets soaked and i just leave it.

one great examjple of cloth being stiffened by being soaked in salt water and then allowed to dry, was in the dunkirk operation one 13 year old boy took his little tinny across the channel i think by himself for days, when he was FINALLY able to stop, he found his socks had become so encrusted with salt, they were hard as rocks.

another time was when i was bored at uni and layered paper towels and soaked them in salt water from a special tap (the uni lab had a supply of saline water for marine ecology research) same thing, encrusted with salt and pretty hard...

so as a concept it can work

and as mentioned, the aztecs made use oif it as well, im curious if any others who made extensive use of fabric armour, like the byzantines and their munitions gambesons for their troops
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Matthew P. Adams




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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jan, 2015 1:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the vinegar helps to make the felt fibers cling more densely. Wool is naturally acidic, an adding a half cup vinegar to the rinse cycle helps socks and sweaters come out much softer. If you used pure vinegar, the softening effect would be exaggerated and the wool fibers would twist and tangle into a denser felt. Since felt doesn't have a warp or weave, it would be more resilient to cutting and piercing.
"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Apr, 2016 10:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
im curious if any others who made extensive use of fabric armour, like the byzantines and their munitions gambesons for their troops


And this recently popped up on my FB feed via Benjamin Lanteigne:
Quote:
"He fought them then without a shield, and in lieu of a coat of mail he wore a woven linen fabric that had been steeped in a stong brine of wine and folded many times. So hard and compact had it become from the salt and wine that it was impervious to all missiles; the folds of the woven stuff numbered more than eighteeen." p212 O City of Byzantium, Annals of Niketas Choniates (1140-1213) translated by Harry J Magoulias (1984)


So a salted wine (or vinegar) treated felt?

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Apr, 2016 7:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's layered linen, not felt. I can't imagine that something that salty would be comfortable to wear, but the same could be said of many other types of armor, too!

And I suppose you *could* do the same treatment on felt. Give it a whirl!

Matthew
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