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Announcing Armour in Texts

An 18th century coloured print of a man in armour from neck to foot wearing a long straight sword and a carbine on a sling
The armour which Maurice de Saxe had made sometime before 1757, from the French edition of Mes Rêveries.

Back in 2014 I began a project to address a problem which I noticed. Amateur students of armour seemed to have trouble finding written sources, and historians specialized in one period sometimes seemed not to notice things which I saw again and again in the world history of armour. For example, my reading in the world history of prices in general, and armour prices specifically, makes me read the statement that Athenian settlers needed to bring arms worth 30 drachmas differently than some other ancient historians do (for a list of sources, see Van Wees, Greek Warfare: Myths and Realities, p. 52, plus the Salamis Decree from the Acropolis at Athens). From watching the traffic on my blog, I noticed that if you give people a link to sources, many of them will follow it. In my view, making sources available is the single most important thing which historians can do: interpretations change and are a product of our culture, but sources are foreign and reading enough of them makes it hard to have any simple interpretation of history, or believe that people in other cultures and other times think just like we do. But often sources on armour are published in out-of-print books in a handful of libraries, or available in old translations by people who were not especially interested in material culture.

Unfortunately, I have had to put this project aside for two years now, so I think it is time to make sure that my gentle readers know about Armour in Texts.

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Bonus Content: How Do We Know About the Libraries of Carthage?

Issue 7 of Ancient History magazine is now heading to subscribers. It contains something which was not quick to write, but which I think is very important: a summary of some studies in German which ask how many words of text in different ancient languages survive. Do you think that there are about twice as many words of Greek because the green Loebs take up twice as much shelf space as the red ones? Or prefer ten to one like Liddell and Scott guessed? How do Egyptian, Akkadian, and Sumerian fit in? This article explores how those German researchers tried to find an answer, and what that answer is. To my knowledge, their work has never been discussed in plain language in English, so check it out! The article had to be trimmed for space, so in this post I would like to give the sources for a statement.
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Reviving the “Journal of Roman Military Equipment Studies”

A typical page from the old JRMES: “after many costly and fruitless experiments” John Duckham wields his 10-cubit lance on horseback The Journal of Roman Military Equipment Studies used to publish finds of Roman banded armour, reconstructions of Roman saddles, and experiments with sarissas on foot and on horseback. Like... Continue reading: Reviving the “Journal of Roman Military Equipment Studies”

The Sandby Borg Massacre

Sword pendant in gilded silver, found in House 40 at Sandby borg. Photo courtesy of Daniel Lindskog. Off the eastern shore of Sweden lies the island of Öland, and on that island fifteen hundred years ago the Ölanders built a ring fort and filled it with halls and silver and sparkling... Continue reading: The Sandby Borg Massacre