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[split] Phalanx warfare: use of the spear
#31
lets do it differently..

in your nice red picture, how exactly are you picturing that man in third row would put his spear in overarm? (he has men behind him, and in front of him)... all pictographical evidence shows spearhead being  always up when held vertically, not down...

On the Matthew pictures - third is way too close together... really doubt they would get so close, instead they would be at the distance of the spears. there is no point taking almost 3m long spear, if you wanna fight 30cm away from enemy... (plus, entire notion of long weapons is to keep enemy at bay, not to get into a "fistfight", where dagger would be much more useful)

What is shown on the first picture, to me looks like a perfect way how to transfer the energy of entire formation into a spearpoint - you fix the spear with your grip, fix the sauroter against the shield of men behind, and then move like this against the enemy - you would not even need to thrust - just share momentum of the formation would do the work for you - weight of a man + his movement speed = much greater impact speed at the charge(locked shields together would also help i guess).  but of course, some spears would not even survive such impact, which is again, something quite commonly mentioned  (shattered spears upon impact) by Ancient historians btw..

now, back to overarm - main issue i see immediately, is the fact that spear point of balance is in the back, not in the middle or front, which is what you would want to have if you want to use a spear that way. Archeological findings of sautoters and spearheads which are in museum in Olympia, give us average weight for sauroter around 300-350g, and spearhead of 100-150g... so trying to hold it at 45 degree, you would constantly fight the much heavier rear half of your spear.

[Image: UO88Rl.jpg]

so even holding it in the middle would still put the point of balance in the rear part, so it would be pushing the rear part down...

Thrand in his videos always uses spear/heavy javelin with large spearhead, but very small butspike (if any) point of balance for that weapon is in the front.  I'm not saying his use is completely bad or something, on contrary, its very interesting and quite effective due to speed he can generate like this. but i would more imagine this use for those who used shorter throwing spears, and fought in a bit more open formation - really would not be surprised to see Roman Legionarii using their heavy pilum like this...


But, all things aside. I'm not interested in a blame game, or some flame wars whats better (had my share of such nonsense in the past).  I want to discuss facts, and theories and look from a practical point of view what would be possible and what would not.
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#32
(08-18-2016, 06:04 PM)JaM Wrote: lets do it differently..

in your nice red picture, how exactly are you picturing that man in third row would put his spear in overarm? (he has men behind him, and in front of him)... all pictographical evidence shows spearhead being  always up when held vertically, not down...

Lift spear up over head, twist in hands or whatever. 

On the Matthew pictures - third is way too close together... really doubt they would get so close, instead they would be at the distance of the spears. there is no point taking almost 3m long spear, if you wanna fight 30cm away from enemy... (plus, entire notion of long weapons is to keep enemy at bay, not to get into a "fistfight", where dagger would be much more useful)

So you don't think hoplites every actually closed with one another? Are you discounting all the accounts of Othismos?

Mind you that if the hoplite of the army of JaM (finding underhanded) ended up fighting the hoplite army of Bryan (fighting overhanded), my orders would absolutely 100% rely on my force closing the distance as quickly as possible with your army so nullifying your tactics and use of weapons. 


What is shown on the first picture, to me looks like a perfect way how to transfer the energy of entire formation into a spearpoint - you fix the spear with your grip, fix the sauroter against the shield of men behind, and then move like this against the enemy - you would not even need to thrust - just share momentum of the formation would do the work for you - weight of a man + his movement speed = much greater impact speed at the charge(locked shields together would also help i guess).  but of course, some spears would not even survive such impact, which is again, something quite commonly mentioned  (shattered spears upon impact) by Ancient historians btw..

It doesn't matter how many men you think you can harness to a spear thrust, if the angle of it goes nowhere but into the face of a shield front it can't penetrate, that thrust doesn't do anything. The angles are wrong for the usefulness of any underhanded grip in a phalanx, their only target is the enemy's face of the front ranker and that target is already protected by Corinthian helmet and the aspis. Besides, if the face was the literal only target, the pilos helmet would never have become popular. 

now, back to overarm - main issue i see immediately, is the fact that spear point of balance is in the back, not in the middle or front, which is what you would want to have if you want to use a spear that way. Archeological findings of sautoters and spearheads which are in museum in Olympia, give us average weight for sauroter around 300-350g, and spearhead of 100-150g... so trying to hold it at 45 degree, you would constantly fight the much heavier rear half of your spear.

In previous posts you've complained that people are holding the dory at the mid point instead further back, they lose range, now you're saying that if they hold it mid point they also lose balance. Well I guess they can always hold it overhand a bit further back, thereby not only having a more effective manner to thrust into the existing unarmored flesh of their enemy, but also having nearly as much range as the underhanded grip, thus negating a large reason you say they have for using it in the first place. 

Thrand in his videos always uses spear/heavy javelin with large spearhead, but very small butspike (if any) point of balance for that weapon is in the front.  I'm not saying his use is completely bad or something, on contrary, its very interesting and quite effective due to speed he can generate like this. but i would more imagine this use for those who used shorter throwing spears, and fought in a bit more open formation - really would not be surprised to see Roman Legionarii using their heavy pilum like this...

Because he's using a Scandinavian style spear. The only difference in using a Greek spear with a heavier buttspike, maybe a tapered shaft (maybe not), which simply means a change of balance that allows Thrand more range, also with the ability to short spear it and simply work through the strain of a heavier butt end while attacking closer targets. It doesn't change the angles of attack, that's the important part. If you want to use a spear as a weapon against an enemy protected by a helmet and large shield, then you need to have a weapon capable of hitting something exposed on that person, which means going either over, around, or under the shield. Diagonal against opponents to the left or right of those in front would have been useful. But going under the shield with an underhanded thrust is nearly impossible in a phalanx. One, if they have greaves then there is nothing to hit. Two, as you state they aren't closing the distance anyway, so they wont gain any distance needed to pass the shield. Three, the angle is all wrong for the men behind them, because then they wont be in the "Matthew's Ready Position" but having to attack in a completely different manner that seriously risks injuring the second ranker with the sauroter.   

But, all things aside. I'm not interested in a blame game, or some flame wars whats better (had my share of such nonsense in the past).  I want to discuss facts, and theories and look from a practical point of view what would be possible and what would not.

I used facts, in the form of practical illustrations that discuss the angles. You can't debate angles. If the only thrust possible with Matthew's Ready Guard is a direct frontal thrust, that means it can easily be blocked. An overhead grip in the high guard allows for a straight thrust, or a downward thrust, meaning a larger target area. 
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#33
Lift spear up over head, twist in hands or whatever.

Not possible with men behind.. his aspis would prevent you doing it.. and its not just you, but entire formation would have to do it too.


So you don't think hoplites every actually closed with one another? Are you discounting all the accounts of Othismos?

Mind you that if the hoplite of the army of JaM (finding underhanded) ended up fighting the hoplite army of Bryan (fighting overhanded), my orders would absolutely 100% rely on my force closing the distance as quickly as possible with your army so nullifying your tactics and use of weapons.

  not at all - fixing the spears, putting the mass of the formation into spear points... thats actually an ultimate othismos, why would it only mean pushing with shields? besides, whole idea of two masses pushing against each other is quite nonsense.. such thing would end up with front ranks crashed by the pressure.. just look any mentions of human crowd panics.. pressure is insane, yet, there are no archeological findings of armors damaged by such pressure, and i dont recall a single mention from ancient historian of such thing.. mind you, people would die suffocated and crashed by the push.. no way you could survive it. no armor would protect you (remember reading such a crowd push generates enough of energy to bend a railroad...)

It doesn't matter how many men you think you can harness to a spear thrust, if the angle of it goes nowhere but into the face of a shield front it can't penetrate, that thrust doesn't do anything. The angles are wrong for the usefulness of any underhanded grip in a phalanx, their only target is the enemy's face of the front ranker and that target is already protected by Corinthian helmet and the aspis. Besides, if the face was the literal only target, the pilos helmet would never have become popular.

yet Matthew quotes findings of damaged armors which were pierced from shallow upward path. Besides, Aspis would not be immune either. Trand managed to penetrate the shield with his throws, Aspis was not that thick as Scutum, If i recall correctly, it was 0.5mm bronze over 10mm wooden core? or was it less?

In previous posts you've complained that people are holding the dory at the mid point instead further back, they lose range, now you're saying that if they hold it mid point they also lose balance. Well I guess they can always hold it overhand a bit further back, thereby not only having a more effective manner to thrust into the existing unarmored flesh of their enemy, but also having nearly as much range as the underhanded grip, thus negating a large reason you say they have for using it in the first place. [b]

It doesnt matter. Physics still works the same way... rear part is heavier, front part is lighter. Unless you hold it in point of balance, your rear part would push down, making your front part be pushed up.. you would have to use some strength to revert it, which would be quite contraproductive (why not balance the spear towards front..). Even holding it at the point of balance, you would only achieve horizontal position. For 45 degree overarm, point of balance must be in the front.  The point about reach is true as well, it doesnt contradict the grip position..

[/b]Because he's using a Scandinavian style spear. The only difference in using a Greek spear with a heavier buttspike, maybe a tapered shaft (maybe not), which simply means a change of balance that allows Thrand more range, also with the ability to short spear it and simply work through the strain of a heavier butt end while attacking closer targets. It doesn't change the angles of attack, that's the important part. If you want to use a spear as a weapon against an enemy protected by a helmet and large shield, then you need to have a weapon capable of hitting something exposed on that person, which means going either over, around, or under the shield. Diagonal against opponents to the left or right of those in front would have been useful. But going under the shield with an underhanded thrust is nearly impossible in a phalanx. One, if they have greaves then there is nothing to hit. Two, as you state they aren't closing the distance anyway, so they wont gain any distance needed to pass the shield. Three, the angle is all wrong for the men behind them, because then they wont be in the "Matthew's Ready Position" but having to attack in a completely different manner that seriously risks injuring the second ranker with the sauroter.  

Yet that difference is quite distinctive thing. If Thrand had Dory and held it at the point of balance (at the back) he would not generate same amount of speed with it, as he uses the spear shaft going forward, sliding in his arm. If he held it at the back, distance spear can slide is short, not enough to generate speed for penetration.. And regarding the thrusts - with underarm high grip as on Matthews pictures, second rank still has his aspis in front of him, so sauroter from the men in front of him is not going to hurt him.  Only thing wrong with that picture is the fact they stand straight.. i would assume they would be bended in the knees for more stability.



I used facts, in the form of practical illustrations that discuss the angles. You can't debate angles. If the only thrust possible with Matthew's Ready Guard is a direct frontal thrust, that means it can easily be blocked. An overhead grip in the high guard allows for a straight thrust, or a downward thrust, meaning a larger target area.

you can have actually quite good control over your spear with that grip, no need to attack directly, you can easily hit diagonally. I would assume direct clash would be for initial contact with the push of spears, then both formations would be away from each other at the distance of spear, trying to "poke" each other.. then, when one side lost enough of men in front rank (usually nobles, king/ commanders, or most brave and best equipped were in there) rest of them would just rout... yet with theory of pushing shields, if front rank got routed, they would have no space to rout because those behind would push them against enemy... such thing would end up with lots of men crashed by the momentum of the mass...
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#34
Some more illustrations to prove my point of angles and reach. 

In fight A-B, both are using overhand grip in the high guard, shields at medium war. Hoplite A. has a heavier buttspike so is able to hike up further on his spear and gain a longer reach, as compared to Hoplite B. So if they remain at this range, Hoplite A. has the advantage in reach. 

In fight C-D, they have closed the distance. Now the longer reach of Hoplite C. gives him a disadvantage, his point has passed over the shield of Hoplite D. (it can only go through, around, or over, the latter two do the same thing). At this point if Hoplite C. doesn't shift his grip to short grip his spear then his spear is useless and he will need to transition to his sword in order to offensively attack. Furthermore Hoplite also doesn't have a target for any hoplites behind Hoplite D., after D. raised his shield to parry C. Spear he pushed the angle up so it passes over his head, and the head of the hoplite behind him. Hoplite D, in the high guard, overhand grip, high ward with aspis, has the advantage now in reach gripping the shaft at the mid point. 

In fight E-F we have Hoplite  E. fighting in Matthew's medium guard, underhand grip, medium shield ward. Hoplite F. has closed the distance, and raised his shield, deflecting and passing Hoplite E.'s spear point, allowing him to get in nice and close and thrusting the iron point of his dory into the mouth of Hoplite E., where the spear point will burst through the back side of his head and stop once hitting the back of the bronze helmet. With a hard yank as Hoplite E. drops like a sack of flour, Hoplite F. will retract his spear, hold it high, step on his dead enemy's body, and give a mighty roar of victory. All thanks to using the overhand grip and the high guard.
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#35
in E-F:

Why would I allow you to get that close??? I could easily just push my spear against your shield, and you would not get a step closer (spear is in full control entire time, even if my spear got over your shield i would just withdraw it back and thrust again..) besides, its formation against formation, and there is another line of spears 50cm behind, so even if my spear broke, second rank would keep you at bay...  Pushing spears against shields... that how Phalangites tried to fix Roman Legionaries at bay with their sarrissas, it would quite well work with Hoplite phalanx as well.. 

[Image: oUSNYG.jpg]

Regarding AB, CD, sorry but to me it just looks even more strange to bring such a long weapon into such a close distance fight... shorter weapon would be much more useful.. and with shields against each other, with another man few centimeters away, actual dagger would be most effective.. not a dory.

Besides, with the strapped aspis, 50% of the shield is actually protecting guy standing next to you, while only second half is covering you, so your spear is at the place where shields are touching, so no need to go over highest position.
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#36
If you were fighting in Matthew's undergripped medium guard there would be nothing to stop your adversary from closing the distance. Your spear point against his shield is not going to stop is forward momentum, all your opponent would need to do is tilt the shield (like this or like this) and your own spear point would sail over or to the side, meaning your opponent would have passed your point, nullifying the threat of your weapon. 

Also, take a look at the altered illustration you made, which does a lot to prove the angle issue I'm trying to demonstrate. For Hoplite E. to actually hit the top of Hoplite F.'s head he needs to jump or levitate. Because if is spear is held at shoulder height (as Matthew's pictures demonstrates, he can't it anything above the shield rim (held at minimum of shoulder height) on Hoplite F. Again, its about the angles and distances. 

Check out this historical interpretation of hoplite battle. Looks a whole lot like my A-B and C-D illustrations...

[Image: 7034c5ec5a06b48e7566fab923816234.jpg]

Lastly, hoplites didn't carry daggers, they carried swords of varying length, only the Spartans known for possibly (no guarantee though) carrying short swords. If you're going to debate fighting techniques you need to keep it in the realm of reality. Or else I'd counter that the best way hoplite can win a fight is to drop their dory and use an AK47.
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#37
Aspis is circular not square... it doesn't have same height everywhere, parts are lower only middle part is high.. and you would not have dory over the middle part but more to the outer parts.

Besides, i remember seeing some reenactment made from cadets at (i think it was) WestPoint who used spears (no spearheads, just a training soft poles) in such position in mass against another mass charging. Guys described quite a shock seeing all those points getting at them..

All these pictures are not showing formations, These are duels at most so practically irrelevant. and those which portray some sort of formation, like Cigi vase, also shows ankyles painted on those javelins.. which is quite a big point towards those being javelins and not spears..

on the pictures you gave, it is quite obvious how much stress it would create on the wrist, and whole arm.. as i mentioned before, in a combat, you dont want to use a technique that will make you tired faster. simple things works best.. things where you dont spend a lot of energy on movement. putting the spear on the rim of the shield and pushing it straight forward is very simple move...


yet, i would not want to diverge again, there are still those points about spear balance, which are quite fundamental thing to the fighting style.. Maybe it would be good idea send some feedback to Thrand and ask him to try this with properly weighted and balanced dory.

and i must admit, i was wrong about him. I have considered him to be some youtuber who does these things just for views. (there are tons of such guys on youtube, claiming stuff and using some lazy replicas bought cheap from ebay)but it seems he actually cares to get things as close to reality as it gets which i do respect.


And also, please understand, that i'm not defending something without reason. If i'm presented with good evidence i'm ready to admit i was wrong. i dint come here to prove i have patent for ultimate knowledge, but to discuss part of history i'm passioned about, and even learn something new.
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#38
I've noticed from your posts in TWR forum that you like bringing up the Cigi vase to discount the overhead grip. Have you ever seen what it looked like before the missing parts of the paint that faded over time were "touched up"?  Here's what it really looks like, not the pics you usually post. Show me the ankyles (they would be in the top left, but they don't appear because they aren't there)

[Image: Chigi.jpg]

There is nothing at all unnatural about a hammer fist grip, like this one here, which is essentially what an overhand grip is. It doesn't create any stress on the wrist, you could tape off the wrist like for a boxer and it would't impede the use of the spear at all. Biometrically, it puts the least strain on the wrist and forearm. 

Now compare that to Matthew's medium guard underhanded grip, similar to this one here. Notice the angle of the wrist? How its curved down? That is actually cutting off blood circulation and putting stress on the nerves, its why people develop carpal tunnel and other wrist disorders, because the hand isn't designed to be held at that angle. 

Lastly, you keep going on and on about "tired faster". As I've demonstrated quite clearly, based on angles and distances, standing in a guard that only allows for minimum ability to actually hurt an enemy, then stamina wont matter, because the opponent doesn't need to stand there and allow you to poke a little straight at his face, in a telegraphing manner, they can block and parry with their shield, close the distance, and spear you from over the rim of your own shield. 

If the whole line of phalanx is holding their spears in Matthew's underhand medium guard, then everyone on the other side can do the same thing, block, parry the spear up, duck a bit while moving forward and pass the spear point, and then thrust into the shocked mouth of your enemy using an overhand downward thrust that will clear the enemy's upper shield rim. 

Thus I win, simply by using my spear in a manner in a more effective manner than you are. I can be a fat, out of shape, couch potato and you could be a triatholon with giant muscles, but my spear will end up in your mouth and your's wont do anything. Because when it comes to close in fighting as a phalanx, overhand beats under. Even the Greek potter slaves knew this. When dueling, in many ways the underhand has the edge (when not used rigidly as Matthew proposes) because it allows for not only lower thrusts but also by simply lifting your hand you can attack from the medium or high guard (though the most power of the thrust will come from an upwards angled low guard trust, based on body mechanics). But this just doesn't work out in phalanx vs. phalanx, because of the lack of freedom of movement (only forward, no side to side, or back pedaling) that Hoplites had, and the danger of having your spear tip passed.
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#39
here - enlarged part:

[Image: bg4q.png]

those javelins have black heads.
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#40
(08-18-2016, 08:27 PM)JaM Wrote: here - enlarged part:

[Image: bg4q.png]

those javelins have black heads.

None of that stuff is in the original, look at the post I picked. Someone took the vase, which had faded parts, and they touched it up with what they thought should be in it. They added the ankyles. Again, look at what the REAL VASE LOOKS LIKE, instead of just reposting your old incorrect pics from TWC. They are wrong, those were not in the original.
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#41
you mean this?


[Image: 15746244084_687360e634_b.jpg]




ankyle is visible quite clear there...  (its not my original idea.. i got guys from Rome Total Realism doing research for me while working on R2TR, besides, this picture i didnt got from Chris Matthew, but from two works about ankyle use in ancient times. Chigi was just one of many)


ah, one of them is on academia.edu

https://www.academia.edu/1406260/Throwin..._the_Throw

but this one is short one, remember reading one work which was much longer on this topic. In this one they were trying to prove it was possible to throw Dory, but they had to construct javelin without sauroter because when they used it, balance was too off and it couldn't be thrown. If I find the second one, i will post it here, but its been like 2 years i've read it... who knows if its still online (and btw, its a bit strange study, speeds they measured were way too low, so not sure what exactly they were measuring.. but with release speed 2.96m/s javelin would not fly to 16m. yet, the whole point showing how effective ankyle was is correlating with what i read in the second one, just reported release values differed way too much)
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#42
FWIW a lot of extant cuirasses with holes in the breastplate were pierced when they were nailed to the wall of a temple, not during battle.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#43
"and im surprised so many people are arguing about it, and nobody actually cared to try it with real replica to hit something... if Chris was wrong, then it would be very simple to disprove what he wrote, yet, his tests are valid."

Many have. I dismantle his misleading notions in my forthcoming book, but suffice to say that he was testing a very odd and stilted version of the overhand grip. I know of 4 studies now, and my own work that have looked at strike force, and only his show underhand even close to as powerful as overhand. Not sure why he does not know how to strike overhand, but more troubling was his attempt to simply dismiss prior work (strong strikes must have been thrown he writes) or not reference it.

His frontage and spacing comes from Hellenistic manuals and is anachronistic for hoplites- no hoplite ever formed a line of overlapping aspides at 45cm. Good luck trying it.

He is also quite wrong in his objection to othismos. We generated close to half a ton of force with 10 man files and the aspides did not buckle, nor the men suffocate.
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#44
sorry but you are denying basic laws of physics and human psychology... nobody in his sane mind would want to be in a front row of a 8-16 (or more) formation pushing against another 8-16 men formation, while holding 2.5-3m long spear in the middle.. humans are not machines.


and he is right about overarm "thrusts", those are much weaker than uderarm thrusts. even Thrand doesnt do a thrust but practically a sliding throw...


and of course, everybody just keep ignoring the fact that Chigi vase clearly shows the ANKYLE attached to those JAVELINS.
Jaroslav Jakubov
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#45
The potential power of the thrust is irrelevant. It takes very little force to pierce flesh and it is effectively impossible to thrust a one-handed spear through armour - it doesn't matter whether it is overhanded or underhanded. In addition, in a battle the experienced fighters are rarely attacking with full force; they get tired way too quickly and they increase the chances of the weapon getting stuck. The ideal tactic is to aim at unprotected parts of the body and to conserve your energy by using light quick jabs.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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