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Re: Show here your Roman soldier impression
#1
Quote:I also feel that I have to say that I greatly prefer the green fields and find it a little unlikely that Roman soldiers would have carried black shields, although as always I would be very happy to be proved wrong.

As you well know, there is no proof as yet. But, consider that many of the auxiliary shields include astrological symbols, like stars, moons etc. To me this suggests a blue or black shield. I've just returned from Pompeii and black was used extensively as a backing colour, and according to Graham Sumner was often used as a background to green foliage. Since many auxiliary emblems feature astrological symbols and wreaths, I'd go as far as to suggest that many auxiliary shields were in-fact, dark blue or black ...
Paul Elliott

Legions in Crisis
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/17815...d_i=468294

Charting the Third Century military crisis - with a focus on the change in weapons and tactics.
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#2
Paul,

When I wrote that I was thinking mainly of the portenteous nature of black, recalling Plutarch's mention of Crassus' choice of a black cloak prior to the Battle of Carrhae being interpreted as a bad omen, but I was also thinking of the possible difficulty of obtaining black pigments.

However, since last night I have realised that pitch, coal dust and charcoal would all do the job quite well, thus removing the impediment to painting a shield black. The possibility of it being a bad portent still bothers me a bit, but I accept that presenting your enemy with what they might interpret for themselves as a bad portent might not be such a stupid thing to do. Your point about the possibility of a dark background for stars and crescents is a good one and certainly bears further exploration to see if something similar might be found in other art. I am aware of the common practice of painting a dark blue background for stars in mediaeval art and it would be fascinating to know if this was something done in Roman art as well.

Co-incidentally, when I made four clipeii for the Leicester passion play, I ended up giving them blazons featuring crescents and stars on a blue field. Prescient or what?
Sorry about the unfinished nature of the shields in these pictures. I had a lot to do at the time and did not get time to put on the second coats of paint or proper edging. These will have to wait for next year. I wasn't able to provide caligae for the soldiers either unfortunately.

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Crispvs
Who is called \'\'Paul\'\' by no-one other than his wife, parents and brothers. :!: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_exclaim.gif" alt=":!:" title="Exclamation" />:!:

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#3
I know that the Egyptians also used dark blue backgrounds for stars and other celestial scenes, but admittedly, painting a wall fresco is different from a shield!

I did wonder about the scouting nature of auxilaries, if they ever preferred greens and blacks and duller colours than reds, yellows and vivid blues? Or is that a modern viewpoint? (And another, separate thread!)
Paul Elliott

Legions in Crisis
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/17815...d_i=468294

Charting the Third Century military crisis - with a focus on the change in weapons and tactics.
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#4
[Image: NileMosaicOfPalestrinaSoldiers.jpg]

(tnread relocated) What is the other evidence for auxiliary shield designs and colours? What can be deduced from frescoes and other sources?

A starter from Trajans Column below, and the Palestrina mosaic above.

(following the thread http://www.ancient-warfare.org/rat.html?...start=2760)
[Image: ashield1.jpg]
[Image: ashield3.jpg]
[Image: 3.47.m.jpg]
[Image: wip2_r1_c1-1-1.jpg] [Image: Comitatuslogo3.jpg]


aka Paul B, moderator
http://www.romanarmy.net/auxilia.htm
Moderation in all things
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#5
The Dura auxiliary shields may look radically different to earlier designs, but seem to maintain various symbols from the 2nd century, namely: wreaths around the boss (abeit stylised), stars and totem animals.

EDIT: Which should give us some idea of the priorities for an auxiliary shield (!)
Paul Elliott

Legions in Crisis
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/17815...d_i=468294

Charting the Third Century military crisis - with a focus on the change in weapons and tactics.
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#6
Quote:I did wonder about the scouting nature of auxilaries, if they ever preferred greens and blacks and duller colours than reds, yellows and vivid blues? Or is that a modern viewpoint? (And another, separate thread!)

this is almost certain a very modern point of view. I recall certain British units were still fighting in red uniforms at the start of W.W. I.
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#7
A darker cloak can be a concealment regardless of the color of tunic. The hood covers shiny helmets, too. But nothing much can hide a Roman soldier out in the middle of a field. Without long-ranged weapons (like modern rifles, e.g.), a scout spotted in a hay field can easily be caught by cavalry or other scouts. Better to stick in the tree line.
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
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#8
Very interesting topic. I will get myself an auxilia shield next year, but don't know about the design yet. Keep it coming guys!
Valete,
Titvs Statilivs Castvs - Sander Van Daele
LEG XI CPF
COH VII RAET EQ (part of LEG XI CPF)

MA in History
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#9
More from Trajan's Column (via Florescu 1965 via Simon James):

[Image: james-shield-1.jpg]

Common elements (on the shields above) seem to be:

1) Wreath or garland around the boss
2) Stars or crescent moons, singly or in 2's or 4's

Some have:

3) An eagle at the top and/or
4) Totem animal
5) Celtic-style swirls (though these don't seem to turn up WITH garlands)

A small number in Paul B's post show very 'legionary' decoration, and may well be oval legionary shields (sorry, don't know context of those shields), including the familiar thunderbolts and wings.

Unrelated Note: I see shield #19 in Caballo's post was carried by rebels against the empire, that identification is pretty certain in my book.
Paul Elliott

Legions in Crisis
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/17815...d_i=468294

Charting the Third Century military crisis - with a focus on the change in weapons and tactics.
Reply
#10
Mithras wrote:
As you well know, there is no proof as yet. But, consider that many of the auxiliary shields include astrological symbols, like stars, moons etc. To me this suggests a blue or black shield. I've just returned from Pompeii and black was used extensively as a backing colour, and according to Graham Sumner was often used as a background to green foliage. Since many auxiliary emblems feature astrological symbols and wreaths, I'd go as far as to suggest that many auxiliary shields were in-fact, dark blue or black ...


My reconstruction of an Auxiliary with shield can be seen on my website gsillustrator.co.uk

As Mithras said I based the idea on Roman wall paintings which frequently show green foliage against a dark background the most famous example being in the house of Livia.

The hood covers shiny helmets,

There are a couple of references to covers being used to prevent too shiny helmets giving away the positions of troops in ambush.

I recall certain British units were still fighting in red uniforms at the start of W.W. I.

I think the last time was during the Gordon relief expedition. A token gesture, as Gordon specifically requested the British troops wear red so the enemy would clearly know that they were British! Most British troops by then were already in Khaki dress. Nevertheless an interesting German postcard of 1914 however does show German troops in contemporary gear fighting British redcoats at the first battle of Ypres. A warning perhaps to those who follow pictorial sources too rigidly? Big Grin


Graham.
"Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream" Edgar Allan Poe.

"Every brush-stroke is torn from my body" The Rebel, Tony Hancock.

"..I sweated in that damn dirty armor....TWENTY YEARS!', Charlton Heston, The Warlord.
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#11
Quote:A darker cloak can be a concealment regardless of the color of tunic. The hood covers shiny helmets, too.

I made my paenula hood big enough to fit over my helmet ... I thought I was being pedantic not wanting my helmet to get rusty in the rain ... WinkGuess it would disguise the 'shine' when on patrol... as long as our men ditch our aprons and jingling belts, too.
Paul Elliott

Legions in Crisis
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/17815...d_i=468294

Charting the Third Century military crisis - with a focus on the change in weapons and tactics.
Reply
#12
The funny thing with any pictorial reference, be it mosaic or fresco is that the craftsman who created the image is himself only going by what they themselves saw (their interpretation) or were given items to copy!

Being re-enactors we know that any kit you use, made using said sources, will itself be altered to suit you and might change appearance from the standard issue! I think it very hard to be 100% accurate.
Sillicus


Simon Barnes :| <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_neutral.gif" alt=":|" title="Neutral" />:|
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#13
Paul E. Wrote...
Quote:A small number in Paul B's post show very 'legionary' decoration, and may well be oval legionary shields (sorry, don't know context of those shields), including the familiar thunderbolts and wings.

I have heard it suggested that these shield blazons may represent Citizen cohorts or perhaps Cohors Voluntariorum. Same could also be said for the Imperial aquila designs though. Wink
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#14
I too had thought that shields 8 and 30 in the first picture were legionary blazons. When I went over the entire frieze a few years ago I could only identify nine different blazons which were associated with what appeared to be straight sided scuta. Of these, three were consistently shown in association with praetorian standards, which suggested to me the intention to indicate the presence at various times of three praetorian cohorts and six legions. It would be interesting to see how many any similar blazons are shown on oval shields.


David,

"Without long-ranged weapons (like modern rifles, e.g.), a scout spotted in a hay field can easily be caught by cavalry or other scouts. Better to stick in the tree line."

I too made the hood on my paenula large enough to comfortably go over my helmet, but I believe Caesar makes some mention in Bellum Civilica to soldiers making basketwork covers to fit over their helmets to camouflage them prior to an ambush (I don't have a copy with me right now to check the reference).

I thought this quote, which came up on a thread I started on the Victorian Wars forum a few months ago, might be of interest here:

"I was obliged to equip my men for the bush, in New Zealand, in blue "jumpers" (leaving the red tunics in store), because I could not get crimson flannel shirts." He was one who believed that the natural colour for the British soldier is red. He certainly did not believe in troops being camouflaged - he also stated "At 1000 yards, all colours are alike, as I proved; red, grey, green, blue, black, all look hazy, except any man wearing a white cross belt, he becomes a target. [Bush Fighting, General J. E. Alexander, 1873. p. 4]"

The original thread can be found at:
http://www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=5650


Graham,

"I think the last time was during the Gordon relief expedition. A token gesture, as Gordon specifically requested the British troops wear red so the enemy would clearly know that they were British! Most British troops by then were already in Khaki dress. Nevertheless an interesting German postcard of 1914 however does show German troops in contemporary gear fighting British redcoats at the first battle of Ypres. A warning perhaps to those who follow pictorial sources too rigidly?"

Actually only regular units could have changed into red (assuming anyone other than the officers had their red tunics with them anyway), as volunteer units would have had grey, rather than red jackets. The command to wear red sound like a typical act of Gordon bravado. My great great grandfather was one of the senior staff officers on the Gordon Relief Expedition. I get the impression from bits and pieces that have come down to us that Wolseley did not have a particularly high opinion of Gordon.

Regarding the German postcard, although it is indeed anachronistic, it is not so much as you might think, as field dress for the British army, when not on operations in hot and dusty climates, remained the red tunic until the middle of 1914, when the red tunics were replaced by a deep khaki, coincidentally just in time for the Great War. The French didn't get around to replacing their bright red hats and trousers until some time in 1915!

Sorry to bring this somewhat OT

Crispvs
Who is called \'\'Paul\'\' by no-one other than his wife, parents and brothers. :!: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_exclaim.gif" alt=":!:" title="Exclamation" />:!:

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#15
Quote:The possibility of it being a bad portent still bothers me a bit, but I accept that presenting your enemy with what they might interpret for themselves as a bad portent might not be such a stupid thing to do.
The Notitia Dignitatum shows lots of shields either black or with a lot of black in the designs. Especially the designs of the Domestici (the Imperial bodyguard) seems to suggest that a black background did not cary any bad portents.
[attachment=1853]Domestici.JPG[/attachment]


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