I published this earlier (14 June 2011) at another blog under the title: The Thorax So Far. I have also included some content from one or two other previous posts. Its a lot of text that may or may not be interesting for war gamers but if nothing else this post illustrates why I get rather passionate when reviewing hoplite miniatures.
Ancient Greek body armour of the tube and yoke shape is often called linothorax. For the period and places I’m interested in there are many reasons to avoid that term and its connotation, i.e. that Archaic/Classic thoraces were made of glued linen. There are good arguments that Athenian corselets in the tube and yoke shape were made of leather, sometimes reinforced with metal scales and plates, and referred to as spolas/spolades or thorax/thoraces. Any tube and yoke corselets made of linen were most likely quilted rather than glued together. I decided to experiment by making a composite of four materials. The foundation is quilted linen and the outer layer is leather and, when I get a hold of the material, bronze scales. Will also have steel plate inserts
One of the inspirations for my tube and yoke corselet is this Achilles and Patroclus imagery.
Here is one of my concept sketches.
I carved and stamped the leather breast-piece. The flower pattern is pretty historically accurate although I have never seen it on a breast-piece. I nevertheless went with this as I liked the idea.
I painted the leather white. To avoid brushstrokes I painted several layers of very thin acrylic paint. I applied it so liberally, and filled the brush so regularly, that there couldn’t be any strokes at all. It however took me a while before I learnt this trick so on the first leather painted some brush strokes can still be seen through the outer layers of paint.
There are no archeological evidence of steel plate inserts from this particular time and place (see the Vergina cuirass though for a later example of plates under fabric). I am however experimenting with plate inserts. I still need to roll the bottom edges of this thin steel plate but you get the idea. Will cut plates for the yoke also.
The biggest stumbling block that remains is to buy bronze plate and cut, drill holes, and shape scales. The main issue is that the type of tin-bronze that I would prefer is difficult to get a hold of unless I buy a big roll which I can’t spend money on right now. Trying to figure out which shape the scales should have by working on some brass scales.
Will also use bronze for any visible metal borders etc.
The main defensive equipment of a hoplite was the shield and helmet so I try to make the corselet light and easy to wear in a warm climate. In hindsight I believe the end result might be a bit too fragile and I’m not really happy with my short-cut of painting the leather white rather than sourcing leather that is tanned white naturally.
I have benefited greatly from seeing other reproductions and from receiving comments at forums but I also have a couple of contributions of my own. My primary contribution is that the thorax sits snugly and tightly around the waist with a waist-line that appears horizontal when standing straight. This fit is further improved by cutting the pteruges in a corresponding manner. Many reproduced linothoraxes/spolades I have seen are cut more like straight tubes with too long back sections, with the result that the waist-line ends up too high at the front, making all but the thinnest reenactors/martial artists look more pot-bellied than they really are.
I think that people want to achieve the sort of boxy appearance seen on vases by cutting the material boxy. However, the human body always distort those types of straight edges so the end result is often not what intended. By taking into account the human body when cutting the pattern I think the end result can look a lot tighter. My inspiration for my pattern comes from making medieval armour, which is always taking into account the shape of the human body.
A minor contribution, which others might have already beat me to, is cutting the individual pteruges tapered. This gives a nice shape that is true to some of the ancient illustrations (but probably not the majority of the illustrations).
A lot remains to be done. I would even like to start making another corselet to take into account what I’ve learnt from making this. For instance the linen around the waist need to be cut tighter and made stiffer so it doesn’t fold so easily. Most likely I will continue with this and aim to complete it in another year or two.
The purpose of this blog is to discuss wargames and I don’t want to stray too far too often. But if you do like the occasional post about armour or other related subjects, like historical martial arts, let me know in the comment section.