Gambeson and aketon desgin

Feb 2011
6,428
#21
Wasn't "linothorax" an ancient term? I'm not sure how we can determine how linothorax was interchangeable with gambeson if we only have Medieval sources describing gambeson so far, but no contemporary sources to describe linothorax.

Anyway from the following depiction the linothorax would at least have bendy parts, but all in all would probably be closer to hard 'plywood' type armor rather than flexible armor:


So far I haven't witnessed evidence of linothorax being the flexible type. But if there is I would be glad to see it.
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,470
Australia
#22
What makes you think the armour in that illustration was made of linen? Most of the evidence we have for non-metallic Greek armour during that time is leather, not linen. We've covered this many times before. Here is my first ever post on Historum
The Linothorax thread

Linothorax wasn't an ancient term. It only appears in the Iliad as an adjective (i.e. "armoured in linen") not as a noun. Other Greek texts use terms such as thorakes linoi ("linen armour") and they are describing foreign armour, not Greek armour.

None of the terms we use today are valid when analysing ancient texts. They are only useful to modern scholars to create arbitrary armor typologies. We can use them in any way we see fit. The only thing that matters is that everyone agrees to the same terminology or it loses all value.
 
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Feb 2011
6,428
#23
I don't know where I made the claim that the armour in said illustration was made of linen, I just called it a linothorax because that's how the majority of modern people terms it as. Anyway your link is pretty useful, but if linothorax(modern usage, spolas for ancient term) was made of leather that makes it quite different from gambesons. Reading from your link, I assume you grouped linothorax with gambeson because you were using the ancient term which has a different meaning.
 
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Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,470
Australia
#24
I would personally use the term "linothorax" to describe a Greek version of the padded jack. My definition of "gambeson" doesn't remotely resemble anything we see in Greek illustrations.
 
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Jan 2015
2,902
MD, USA
#25
I don't know where I made the claim that the armour in said illustration was made of linen, I just called it a linothorax because that's how the majority of modern people terms it as. Anyway your link is pretty useful, but if linothorax(modern usage, spolas for ancient term) was made of leather that makes it quite different from gambesons. Reading from your link, I assume you grouped linothorax with gambeson because you were using the ancient term which has a different meaning.
I just call linen armor of the ancient Greek era "linen armor". Skips all the hair splitting, and really it's the best translation of the Greek terms. One possible complication is that we have no *proof* that linen armor of that time was made with quilted layers--the only descriptions imply TWINED linen, i.e. woven of thicker cords in one to three layers.

The illustrations showing that well-known "tube and yoke" cuirass can't be proven to be linen, hide, or anything else. They only got labeled as "linothorax" mainly because of assumptions by modern writers, assumptions that are now known to be flawed. "Spolas" refers strictly to armor of hide or leather of some sort, and the new theory is that most tube-and-yoke cuirasses shown on Greeks are the spolas, not linen. So our pictoral evidence shows clearly what armor looked like but not what it was made of, whereas our documentary evidence tells what it was made of but does not really show what it looked like (though it strongly suggests the tube and yoke style).

Note that I DO believe that quilted linen was used by the Bronze Age Mycenaeans! There are some good frescoes that show lines of quilting, and a couple archeological finds of layered linen. It just doesn't seem to have carried over to general use in Greece in the Iron Age. We can only surmise that it came back into vogue a little later (Alexander or later), but there's a lot of speculation involved...

Matthew
 

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