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[split] Phalanx warfare: use of the spear
#16
I already stated my opinions on Matthew, how his works are controversial. What he wrote in his books are his opinions based on his testing during reenactments, not everyone believes them. If you do, that's fine, but don't slam others because they don't buy what Matthew. Most of the debate is covered extensively in forums like this one, I've read it from all sides, its just one of those ongoing debates that is never ending. Matthew didn't end the debate, hardly. As this thread is evidence of, its never ending. Maybe some day if Amazon has used copies of his books for a reasonable price I'll buy them but in the mean time I'll pass.

I asked a few times now, besides the spear carrying shoulder, what other muscles groups become fatigued in infantry combat and why?
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#17
its not really about muscle groups.. its about natural blood flow in human body... try holding arms up for few minutes and you will know what i'm talking about.. try doing something physically more demanding, and you just speed up the process...
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#18
Take spear. Hold at 45 degrees in overhand grip. Rest part of shaft forward of the hand on shield rim when not actively stabbing someone in the face. Arm doesn't get tired, it doesn't go to sleep, holding the arm in that manner (like a bodybuilder's bicep pose) is not an unnatural position, biomechnics says so.

"NO. WE know for certain, that fighting with spear like this just for 2 minutes causes muscle spasms, and overall fatigue.... no matter how trained men is, human physiology is same for everybody... stronger men would hold a bit longer, but not much... and in war, you dont want to use technique, that will leave you completely fatigued in 2 minutes..."

From another forum where you are repeating the same info. So now its 2 minutes? Malarkey. The first video alone has the narrator and the group with him holding their spears in the overhand for over two minutes and none seem the least bit fatigued. I grabbed a broom handle and tried it myself just before posting this, and two minutes is easy.

Part in bold, did you test this or are you still only using Matthew's one book as a source?
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#19
does your broom weight at least 1.3 kg? doest it have 250-300g sauroter on the back and aprox 150g speartip on the front? is the complete length at least 2.5m? Is it proper thickness? are you holding it in center of balance? If any of these questions are no, then your holding a broomstick has no relevance to the tests Matthew did.. but why dont you ask him yourself? i can give you his email address, he responds just fine to civilized emails...

Guy on that video has a spear replica, or more like a short javelin without sauroter, therefore his center of balance was in the middle, therefore it was much simpler to manipulate it. Yet, even then, if there was a hoplite behind him, he would be unable to rise that spear from vertical ready position into his intended combat position because shield of a man in row behind him would prevent that if he was in standard formation.
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#20
(08-11-2016, 10:18 PM)JaM Wrote: does your broom weight at least 1.3 kg? doest it have 250-300g sauroter on the back and aprox 150g speartip on the front? is the complete length at least 2.5m? Is it proper thickness? are you holding it in center of balance? If any of these questions are no, then your holding a broomstick has no relevance to the tests Matthew did.. but why dont you ask him yourself? i can give you his email address, he responds just fine to civilized emails...

Guy on that video has a spear replica, or more like a short javelin without sauroter, therefore his center of balance was in the middle, therefore it was much simpler to manipulate it. Yet, even then, if there was a hoplite behind him, he would be unable to rise that spear from vertical ready position into his intended combat position because shield of a man in row behind him would prevent that if he was in standard formation.

A short javelin? I have a Greek style javelin, its about 4 feet long, total. The man in the video, his spear is well over his head. Are you assuming he's under 4 ft tall? Because he doesn't appear to be a little person. Your weights for a dory are way too specific to be real, are you implying that all dory were identical, all uniform in construction, weight, length? 

I have zero desire to discuss anything with Chris Matthew by email, this debate has been done to death a billion times over, it has no real appeal to me other than providing a view tidbits of information I have about the subject to counter the absolutes you keep promoting. There isn't enough information to make a any firm declaration of yes or no. I'm not a fanboy of the topic, I'm simply saying that there is no way you, or Matthew, can definitely say "this is how they did it always". 

If you want to email him and have him come to this forum to debate in person, do it. You've defended him in the past in a manner that seems like you are a subject matter expert, when it comes down you just copy and paste sections of Matthew's book. So go for it, because I'd rather discuss this stuff with the direct source that through someone just quoting his book, in a ancient Hellenic version of the telephone game.
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#21
Mathew backed his claim by archaeological findings.. he mentioned multiple pieces of speartips and sauroters, their weight etc.. its all in his book which you didnt care to read..  similarly, he also mentioned a study of over 150 pieces of armors from Olympias, which practically didn't contain any hits from  wide speartips impacting them from the upper trajectory.. only small javelin heads...

about height, as mentioned before, earlier study mentioned hoplite spear being usually 1.5x higher than a man using it.. his "spear" is just above his head, it doesn't have sauroter,  so balance is adjusted towards front. also as he mentioned in some other video, his spear is not made of ash, as there are none in his area. So making assumptions with all these inaccuracies is just way too much to take it..

also, his claims about spears being always used like this, is also very problematic, as so far, besides  pictures of Normans which show javelin throws, i'm not aware of any  actual portrayal of spear use in overarm, besides the Greek vases. (if there are any, i'd like to see them)  Only other culture that we know of that definitely used overarm grip are Zulu, but they used much shorter spear for it, as a supplement of a javelin they used as well.. and btw, spear and shield was well used even in Renaissance,  Soldiers from Italian States used them for quite some time.


Yet, i give him one thing. that throwing attack is interesting way how to use a javelin for close combat.. but i would not want to be in reach of a spearmen while doing this...

here is the quote about armors:

Quote:Perhaps the most telling sign that the overhead position was not used to wield the thrusting spear in combat comes from the damage left by weapons on the armour worn by the hoplite. Any thrusting attack delivered with a weapon held in the overhead position will follow a downward-curving trajectory. However, there is no evidence of any weapon impacting with a piece of hoplite armour in this manner. A forensic survey of more than 300 helmets, 100 greaves, shields, breastplates, thigh guards and groin protectors (dated from the eighth to the fifth centuries BC) housed in the collection of the Deutsche Archaeological Institute at Olympia in Greece found evidence of weapon impacts on more than 150 pieces of defensive armour. Of these, not one helmet had been struck with a weapon following the downward-curving trajectory of an overhead thrust; all damage had been received from weapons following a shallow upward path.

btw, did anybody seen that study in detail? was it released for public? Maybe worth a try contacting somebody from that institute about details..

http://www.ifa.de/en/culture-and-foreign...ramme.html



p.s: i'll email Chris to ask if he wants to elaborate on his book here.
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#22
I think it is hilarious how Bryan is willing to just categorically dismiss Matthew without actually rebutting any of his arguments.  

Matthew was not writing his "opinions."   He was writing his findings.  There is a world of difference.  If you think the result of the experiment is wrong, reproduce the experiment and tell us the results.  If you haven't even read the book to begin with, then you have no credibility in attempting to dismiss it.

Bryan also asks questions about the 15 minute underarm technique.  The argument is nonsensical.  Besides the fact that if you had actually read the book you would know that 15 minutes was just the length of the test.  The reenactors suffered little to no fatigue.  They describe being bored by it, and could have continued for much longer, whereas the overhand grip couldn't even make it to the 15 minute goal.

The Youtube video is of no relevance because they were not reproducing Matthew's experiment.  If they attempted the same technique under the same conditions, THEN it would relevant to the discussion.

Moreover, the question is not whether the soldier could perform for an arbitrary time limit.  The question is whether one technique was superior relative to the other techniques.  And the overhand grip failed categorically to compete against the low and underarm grip.  

If you have contradictory data, please present it.  

I concede the point that a hoplite of the era might have tried different grips.  People are stupid like that.  But to argue that Matthews is wrong is to say that (a) the archaeological evidence of weapon impacts is misleading and (b) the Hoplites, for whatever reason, insisted on using an inferior technique.  Unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary, we should assume they did things using their best available technique.
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#23
Christopher Matthew didn't present data for the theories we're discussing (overhand vs underhand), he introduced anecdotal evidence based on his own reenactment experiments. Others have also done experimental archaeology and their theories are different. That means someone is right, someone is wrong, or all sides are right and wrong, but more so, it means that there is no way to prove this discussion conclusively. Overhand has its merits, it has historical evidence backing it up, and it has experimental archaeology proving its usefulness. Underhand has its merits, it has some historical evidence backing it up, and it has experimental archaeology proving its usefulness.
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#24
His book is full of information backing his findings.. yet, you are bashing his work, and you didnt even read it.
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#25
I've read about his findings, just not from his book. You've copied and pasted enough pages from his book around the internet that it wasn't hard tracking his theory and read. Besides, as I've stated before, Chris Matthew's findings aren't new, especially on this forum, where underhand vs overhand has been done to death a thousand times over, up there with legion vs phalanx when it comes to repeated, many page threads.

Saying people's shoulders got tired after 15 minutes is not "information backing his findings," anymore than your repeated claims that 2 minutes was the limit for using an overhand grip (simply false). A 15 minute test of standing in a hoplite fighting stance is hardly realistic, in real life before their shoulders become tired their legs will cramp and they will gas out from cardio. Other muscles will tire. Because battle isn't just about how a spear is held. As I asked you repeatedly, but you refused to answer, hoplite combat isn't decided by the muscular endurance of the right deltoid muscles, if the warriors arm gets tired from using the overhand grip, that warrior can rest the forward part of the shaft of their spear temporarily on the top edge of the aspis with no difficulty, without sacrificing their ability to swiftly attack.
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#26
not shoulders but arms.. If you keep arm up long enough, you will lose blood from it.. and then you wont be able to keep it in that position at all. Besides, that book has like 500 pages, and there is a lot more what was not so far mentioned... like for example, orders to "lower weapons" to ready position... which kinda suggests underarm, not overarm grip, otherwise order would be to "rise the weapons".... etc etc... people on internet follow own agenda, its not that uncommon to see somebody thrashing some work, by nitpicking parts that suits them, ignoring others.. but Chris Matthew's work should be assessed as a whole, and not by some youtubers who are making their living on a number of views made...
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#27
[mod mode on]
Gentlemen, this is a nice discussion, for me as well (as a late Roman with a 7-ft hasta), but I would like to urge you to keep it civil. 
[mod mode off/]
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Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
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#28
Been watching those Thrand videos recently, and must say his sliding technique definitely is something interesting and is quite effective (which is not that surprising, as it gives the most speed to the weapon), yet to say it was the one that was used by Hoplites is very hard to prove. Chris Matthews made very good points against overarm, mostly in combat fatigue area, and of course pointing out all the issues with it, from formation perspective. 3ft spacing just don't give enough space to operate Dory effectively like this, so i think that should be the thing to actually test - first, have somebody use this technique for slightly longer period of time, let say over 15 minutes within a tight formation, and not just on the sides, but also behind in at least 2 rows (not live person, just figurines with aspis, and preferably them also having spears in same position) because one technique can be very effective for open formation ,but might be completely impossible within actual phalanx. Then, also try doing basic maneuvers with the spear, like get into ready position, put it back to march position (you dont wanna hold spear up all the time) etc etc..

That is what youtube videos lack, yet Chris Matthew actually did in his tests..
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#29
Thread split due to change of the subject
_________________________________
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
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#30
[Image: images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRIPn_tj6A5m4XfdZ0iS-a...K6-zAsMN8r]

JaM, 

See how the spears are held at shoulder level? That means they are above the heart. See the angle of their elbow? They are activating the muscle fibers of the medial deltoid, similar to the manner in which the exercise called "lateral dumbbell raise" is done. Which means while blood flow should increase (as the muscle fibers are strenuously activated), gravity makes it so less blood will pump, so there will be an increase in muscle fatigue for the shoulders. 

Now you're going to counter this by saying that they are resting the dory's shaft on the rim of the aspis. And then I'm going to counter that with an overhand grip a hoplite can do the same thing, when not directly fighting someone in front of them, they can hold their spear at a 45 degree angle and rest the portion of the shaft forward of the hand, behind the tip, on the upper rim of the aspis, without interfering with the man behind them, while resting the muscles of their shoulder, which still provides a guard for the front and a reasonable response time to attack with the spear again. 

See my well illustrated and highly detailed Paint drawing below.



Now let me discuss some highly obvious issues with the picture from Chris Matthew's book of his "ready position."    *Please reference the well illustrated and highly detailed Paint drawing below.

Picture A. are two opposing hoplites facing off from one another in Matthew's Underhand ready position. As we can see, they are well armored, solid aspis shields, greaves, and Corinthian helmet. Though there is still some distance between them its obvious from the angles what can and cannot be attacked with the spear. So what exactly is being threatened? Feet? Torso are out, the shield completely covers it, no need even for torso armor with a straight thrust blocked easily by the shield held in normal ward. With a underhand thrust, the angle of attack will either be parallel to the ground, or it will come upwards, which leaves a tiny bit of face not covered by the shield as the only target capable of being attacked. Even the neck isn't a target, as the shield rim protects it. Now compare the angles to any picture or video of an  overhand attack, which can go parallel to the ground or over the enemy's shield on a downward angle, so even should an enemy hoplite raise their shield to cover their face, their neck, shoulders, and upper chest are still exposed, as are those of the men of the second rank.

Picture B. shows what happens when the two sides begin closing the distance. They are roughly at fencing distance from one another but neither side has any edge, even with the longer reach advantage, because both sides are too well protected for the spear to be of any obvious use using an underhanded grip. Merely by raising the aspis a measly few inches and covering the mouth/nasal area of the helmet, while leaving the eyes open, the hoplites are nearly invulnerable to spear attacks possible with an underhand grip. Again, with an overhand thrust, being at spear fencing distance from one another, the hoplites could thrust over each others shields to attack more vulnerable spots, or they could parry those attacks more easily (as evident by this video, the overhand grip allows for a more solid parrying ability).

Picture C. shows the two sides having closed the distance, about to start the famous Othismos portion of a battle, when both sides go shield to shield. Now at this point the underarm carry of the spear for the front ranks of both sides is useless, at this point the enemy front two ranks would have raised their shields to cover their faces, used the angle of their aspis front to deflect the spear points and passed under the spear points, tipping the shafts up in the air at angles that would mean the spear tips would hit nothing but air (similar to "push of pike" illustrations). So that means the only method the front ranker hoplites who started out with the underhand grip have to cause physical harm to their opposition is to drop their spear and use their sword. Interesting enough, when shield to shield, the only sword thrust or cut that would be effective would be one that goes over the enemy's shield, in the same manner that an overhand grip would allow for. Also worthy of noting is that when in othismos position, the overhand grip of the spear, and that its gripped more or less in the middle of the shaft shortening its reach, still allows the front two ranks of both sides to continue using their spears in an effective manner that is actually capable of producing casualties to the enemy.

When fighting in formation, attacking over an enemy's shield is a deadlier attack than attacking into the shield or under it.



One last thing. There are times that the underhand grip would be useful too, just not in a close fought battle. More of a dueling or usage during a route. But shield against shield, even when one isn't constrained by a rigid linear formation, there is little in the way of available targets for underhand attacks, unless the arm is completely extended upwards to do a downwards attack, similar to those shown in fight scenes in Troy and 300 (when both sides had spears and shields). In that case, its still simpler to use an overhand grip.
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