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[split] Phalanx warfare: use of the spear
A quick question: Does anyone have a reference that examines the average thickness of surviving bronze armor? I was reading a Hanson book where he claims it was 5 to 10 mm thick. I know that's not right, but I'm having trouble finding actual sources for the 1 to 2 mm estimate.
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The main problem is that even when there are published thicknesses, the measurements were usually only taken around the edges. It is likely that this is the thinnest part of the cuirass. Plate cuirasses are often thickest across the chest and thinner at the back and edges. We need reports where the cuirass measurements were taken at the middle of the plate with deep throat micrometers.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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Dan makes an interesting point, and Crispianus too made the point that armour need not be of uniform thickness. People are sometimes surprised to hear that published thicknesses for Greek bronze 'thorakes' are often in the region 1-2mm, as being rather thin.

Since bronze 'thorakes' were made by hammering out the bronze (cold) it is relatively easy to produce varying thicknesses. Certainly Greek helmets were of varying thicknesses. For example, classical Corinthian helmets from Olympia varied from 0.75 mm at the thinnest to  mostly 1-1.75 mm, with the thickest part invariably being the nasal, at 3.75-5mm. These weighed around 1-1.25 kg ( compared to earlier, thicker ones at 1.25- 1.6 kg) This compares well with the last U.S. steel helmet M1 at 1.11 kg.

It would seem likely that body armour too, made the same way, would also vary in thickness. Like Dan, I don't know of any studies into this aspect of body armour. I gave some information on this subject in my post of Sept 18, previous page.
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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Quote:People are sometimes surprised to hear that published thicknesses for Greek bronze 'thorakes' are often in the region 1-2mm, as being rather thin.
1-2mm is typical of many breastplates that aren't expected to stop firearms or very heavy bows. The problem with Greek cuirasses is the weight. A cuirass that has a uniform thickness of over 1 mm should weigh more than the listed weights. The only way to reconcile these thicknesses and the listed weights is to conclude that the weight was controlled by making the plate thinner over less vulnerable parts of the body just like cuirasses from other regions and time periods. The same feature is evident in bronze shield facings too. They are thickest around the boss and thinnest at the rim.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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(10-02-2016, 07:47 PM)Justin Boyle Wrote: A quick question:  Does anyone have a reference that examines the average thickness of surviving bronze armor?   I was reading a Hanson book where he claims it was 5 to 10 mm thick.  I know that's not right, but I'm having trouble finding actual sources for the 1 to 2 mm estimate.

Best way to determine if something is feasible without any other info is to calculate the overall wieght a back and breast plate 5mm thick approx 18x18inches each would be very heavy at around 40 pounds total.... 10mm thick would be ridiculous even if only a portion...

And then determine if such a thickness is necesary to protect against the common weapons in use at the time...
I dont have a reference for an "average" but would suggest around 1-1.5mm.

Edit: for some reason the last too posts by Paullus Scipio and Dan Howard were not visible when I posted, but for what its worth I totally agree with both.
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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I saw this on youtube, two HEMA reenactors sparring with round shields (parma) and spears, one using overhand, the other underhand.

Overarm spear & shield vs underarm - HEMA - Part 1
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(12-02-2016, 03:14 PM)Bryan Wrote: I saw this on youtube, two HEMA reenactors sparring with round shields (parma) and spears, one using overhand, the other underhand.

Overarm spear & shield vs underarm - HEMA - Part 1

There are probably too many variables to draw too many conclusions from this one duelling example, in which overhand definitely appears to have the upper hand.

I venture to suggest that an army fighting 'en masse', such as a phalanx cannot dodge about as the duellists do - one must hold one's place in the line and not leave it. Because of this, and the dangers to men in successive ranks from underhand, overhand has very distinct advantages - as I can vouch from personal re-enactment experience. I won't even mention the 'couched' position, the worst of any!!
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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I agree with you, there is a time and place when underhand has its merits. But what i liked in the video was the effectiveness of the parry by use of overhand grip. We'd talked about that before, that with a high underhand grip there isn't much in the way of defensive parries, but with overhand its quite easy to deflect a spear coming at you.
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