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Turned Aspis Project in Progress
I reattached the pictures. They are not quite the same (post to post) but they are all there, again.
Cheryl Boeckmann
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Cheryl, that's absolutely beautiful! Your determination is incredible  Smile

And after seeing/reading this thread, there's no way in hell that ancient shields were turned on a lathe! It seemed like a chore to do it with modern machinery, I can't imagine this on a wooden pole or bow lathe. No way.
Scott B.
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I disagree. The one piece of pottery showing a shield-turning (that I know of) has it spinning horizontally on a lathe like a potter's wheel. That is more do-able than the vertical lathe we were using. Then gravity is your friend. I don't know if horizontal lathe is even an option in modern times. I was lucky to find even one guy with any lathe big enough to handle the blank. Like blacksmithing, wood turners make the specialist tools they need at the time they need them. Since this was a one-off, Edric worked with what he had. With patterns and calipers, roughing out the blank before turning could be done as a preliminary step. The final turning (horizontally) would not have been much then. If the rim were added after the turning (a possibility not known to me back then) it would have been turning a giant Vermont or Michigan wood salad bowl. No biggie.
Cheryl Boeckmann
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(08-06-2017, 02:32 PM)Athena Areias Wrote: I disagree.  The one piece of pottery showing a shield-turning (that I know of) has it spinning horizontally on a lathe like a potter's wheel.  That is more do-able than the vertical lathe we were using.  Then gravity is your friend.  I don't know if horizontal lathe is even an option in modern times.  I was lucky to find even one guy with any lathe big enough to handle the blank.  Like blacksmithing, wood turners make the specialist tools they need at the time they need them.  Since this was a one-off,  Edric worked with what he had.  With patterns and calipers, roughing out the blank before turning could be done as a preliminary step.  The final turning (horizontally) would not have been much then.  If the rim were added after the turning (a possibility not known to me back then) it would have been turning a giant Vermont or Michigan wood salad bowl.  No biggie.

Interesting. I guess I shouldn't have stated my opinion with such authority -- it should have been more of a comment or theory.. Do you have an image of the pottery piece by chance?
Scott B.
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I thought I had it. Of course, I can't find it. I am looking for it again on the web. It is possible that it is in the Beazley Pottery database. If I go in there, I won't be getting out again for a while - I get lost in there.
Cheryl Boeckmann
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(08-05-2017, 05:19 PM)rocktupac Wrote: Cheryl, that's absolutely beautiful! Your determination is incredible  Smile

And after seeing/reading this thread, there's no way in hell that ancient shields were turned on a lathe! It seemed like a chore to do it with modern machinery, I can't imagine this on a wooden pole or bow lathe. No way.

It would make perfect sense if a continuous drive (which could be achieved quite easily, rather then a bow or a pole) was used, as the weight of the blank would also act like a fly wheel aiding the turner in his work.... having said that George Lailey the last professional pole lathe turner, turned 17 inch bowls on a pole lathe in a "nest" of bowls where multiple bowls are made one inside the other....
Ivor

"And the four bare walls stand on the seashore. a wreck a skeleton a monument of that instability and vicissitude to which all things human are subject. Not a dwelling within sight, and the farm labourer, and curious traveller, are the only persons that ever visit the scene where once so many thousands were congregated." T.Lewin 1867
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That's a real treasure, Cheryl! BEAUTIFUL job on the painting.
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As far as I can tell, the serious information on Greek shields is mostly published in Greek and German, such as the PhD thesis summarized in Hoplites at War. The one exception is Philip Henry Blyth's report on the shield in the Museo Gregoriano Etruscano:

Blyth "The Structure of a Hoplite Shield in the Museo Gregoriano Etruscano" p. 12: "Where the original surface of the timber can be seen, it is mostly smooth, but at one point (near the left hand end of the largest fragment in fig. 3) there are circumferential scratches along the inside wall of the bowl. These would be consistent with the use of a lathe, as is suggested by the comic compound in Aristophanes τορνευτο λυρασπιδο πηγός. Alternatively, perhaps, the shield could have been formed by a rotating tool, pivoting at the centre." On the next page he says that there are marks consistent with turning on a shield cover from Olympia.

But I don't know if anyone who practices ancient woodworking techniques has looked closely at the surviving shields, and trained eyes are important. People in the ancient Aegean worked wood very differently than is common in rich countries today.

If you want the full citation to Blyth's article, check publications by Peter Krentz; the Vatican Museum has it in their web shop.
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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(08-15-2017, 09:49 AM)Sean Manning Wrote: Blyth "The Structure of a Hoplite Shield in the Museo Gregoriano Etruscano" p. 12: "Where the original surface of the timber can be seen, it is mostly smooth, but at one point (near the left hand end of the largest fragment in fig. 3) there are circumferential scratches along the inside wall of the bowl. These would be consistent with the use of a lathe, as is suggested by the comic compound in Aristophanes τορνευτο λυρασπιδο πηγός. Alternatively, perhaps, the shield could have been formed by a rotating tool, pivoting at the centre." On the next page he says that there are marks consistent with turning on a shield cover from Olympia.

But I don't know if anyone who practices ancient woodworking techniques has looked closely at the surviving shields, and trained eyes are important. People in the ancient Aegean worked wood very differently than is common in rich countries today.

Thank you, Sean. Very helpful.

I'm currently working on carving an aspis from solid slabs/posts of wood. I'm using an adze to hollow out the interior and to round the exterior. Then I will go back and smooth the surfaces with a variety of woodworking chisels. So far it has been easy work to remove large amounts of wood from the lumber. After roughly 20 minutes of swinging my adze, I was able to get to about half the depth I needed to be in the 'bowl' of the shield on two planks -- and I'm far from a professional woodworker, let alone an ancient armorer.

To me, this just seems right. The adze was well known in the ancient world and widely used. Plenty of craftsmen had the skills to make thick planks for carving into, but then to also hollow them out into a bowl. This method also works with the Aristophanes reference; there is no need to further explain or reinterpret anything. The 'lathe hypothesis' is unnecessarily complicated and cumbersome. A far easier explanation would be that the highly mobile, presumably more affordable adze (which requires far less skill to operate compared to a lathe, and only requires a single person to wield compared to at least two with a lathe) was used to remove wood from boards to create a giant bowl that was then smoothed over with a chisel, thus creating what appear to be "circumferential scratches along the inside wall" as Blythe reported.

Think of it in practical military terms as well: a bunch of craftsmen could be taken along with an army on the march to repair shields or to outright make a new one if need be. All they would need is a small toolkit (perhaps ax/hatchet, adze, chisels, knives?). Logistically speaking, this makes more sense as well.

Again, I'm just spitballing here. It's a hypothesis. I'm not claiming to be speaking the gospel or anything. What does everyone think?
Scott B.
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When are you thinking this might happen? Before the Pelopennesian Wars, there really wasn't a long campaign season. Plant your crops, go fight for the summer, go home and harvest...

There are references to shield factories in Athens. The owner (metic, perhaps), his slaves, and his slave-driven turning stations making blanks to be customized to the clients' specs.

Was every shield turned? No, of course not. But some were.

When you get to the "smooth over with a chisel" part of your aspis project, compare the results to any wood turned item before the sanding stage. You will see the difference.
Cheryl Boeckmann
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As I said, I'm really just brainstorming here. I know prior to the Peloponnesian Wars there weren't really any long campaigns; the ease of mobility is more of a bonus (not saying that it's the sole justification for using an adze).

I guess where I get hung up is that there just isn't that great of evidence for shields to be turned on a lathe -- at least I haven't ever been presented with that evidence. From what I know, there is the single and obscure literary reference from Aristophanes. Other than that, I am currently searching for references to shield-making factories (as you mention). As far as artistic representations, I have seen none. You claim there is a vase painting, but until that is presented I have nothing to go off of.

This whole thing is really about uncovering information. I'm fully willing and ready to accept that shields were turned on a lathe (even if only sometimes) as soon as the proper evidence arises. Until then, in my mind, it is an unsolved case.
Scott B.
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