Military Review

Shields of the Trojan War (part four)

About the shields in the Iliad says a lot and with taste. The mere description of the shield of Achilles is worth something. But we must not forget that the Trojan War was somewhere in the range of 1250 - 1100. But the whole epoch of the Minoan period, the Cretan-Mycenaean culture, the Achaean period, and the Aegean civilization (in fact, it is all the same!) Began earlier, and ended somewhat later than this time. Therefore, the story of the most common round shields around the world should begin with the fact that such round shields in the Aegean region began to be used approximately around 1300 BC.

Mycenaean dagger with a hunting scene. Athens Archaeological Museum.

Moreover, all-metal (bronze) shields of this time are known from finds in Central and Northern Europe, but not in Hellas and in Asia Minor. But since well-preserved round bronze shields are found there, their use is considered completely possible by the warriors of the Achaean world.

Shields of the Trojan War (part four)

Statuette of a god or warrior from Enkomi, Cyprus (around 1200 BC). Museum in Nicosia.

Some of the golden plaques, buttons and terracotta decorations from royal graves of mines in Mycenae dated 1500 BC. were interpreted by Heinrich Schliemann as miniature copies of shields. His opinion is confirmed by the finding of a large wooden object (which was assembled from many fragments) in the tomb No. XXUMX in Mycenae (near 5 BC), since it is almost certainly part of the shield. In the center of the preserved part there is a round hole, which served to fasten the handle, which was covered from the outside by a metal umbron.

Map of the Aegean World.

There is a fragment of a fresco with a hunting scene from Pylos (around 1300 BC), which also features a round shield. Round shields made from several layers of skin are also described in the Iliad. There is a copper statuette, a “figure from Enkomi”, depicting a warrior with a spear and a round shield. Round shields are armed and the warriors of the "peoples of the sea", depicted on the reliefs of the temple of Ramses II in Medinet-Abu.

But it was in this part of the world that the so-called “proto-Dipilon” shield, which looked like a huge convex figure of eight, appeared. These shields had a vertical wooden edge and a base, most likely woven from a wicker and covered with a bull skin.

Dipilon shield of leather. Reconstruction. At the beginning of the VIII century. BC. in Greece, there were two main types of shield: oval, with grooves on both sides - this type is usually called dipilonsky, after the name of the cemetery in Athens, where they found many images of such shields, and round, with a handle in the center. A dipilonian shield almost certainly goes directly to the figure of eight Mycenaean shields.

When weaving the rods could pass through holes in this wooden frame, although this is nothing more than a hypothesis. In this case, the strength characteristics of such a shield increased even more, and he could have been covered not with just one skin, but with a tire made of several leathers that were cut and joined together. In this case, the strength of such a shield could well correspond to the strength of 19th century kafir-zulus shields, which were made of rhinoceros and hippopotamus and withstood a clawed lion-claw strike!

Mural on the fresco from the palace at Knossos (around 1500 - 1350 BC)

Images of these shields abound. These are frescoes from the palace in Knossos, and Minoan vases and even figures of lion hunters on the blade of a magnificent bronze dagger from the archaeological museum in Athens. On this blade, by the way, there are two types of shields: “eight-shaped” and rectangular with a semicircular protrusion at the top.

Such a shield could be reinforced with metal collar along the edges and even covered with a metal sheet on top. Interestingly, in the Iliad, the main material for the Achaean and Trojan shields are tanned bull skins, reinforced with metal elements. There are images of rectangular shields quite clearly covered with the skin of a bull six outside and on the famous frescoes from Akrotiri from the island of Santorini.

Hunting for a lion, in which an archer and a spearman with a eight-shield are involved. Seal from Kudonia, XVI century. BC.

A fresco from the so-called “Western House”, from Akrotiri from Santorin Island. On the fresco in its upper part, warriors are clearly visible in helmets made of boar tusks with large, human-sized rectangular shields covered with multi-colored bull skins. Such a shield was supposed to serve the soldier as an excellent defense, but its presence speaks volumes. One soldier does not have such a shield! Only many warriors with such shields built into the phalanx make sense on the battlefield. And this means that the phalanx was already known then. By the way, long spears in the hands of soldiers confirm this hypothesis. By the way, the drawing itself is very clear, although it was painted by the artist, who lived from us in ancient times. Warriors protect the city, the women living in it, and the shepherds who drive herds to the city. At sea, we see the fleet and divers engaged in some important business.

Ajax with his shield. Modern reconstruction.

Simple shields with a "tire" of a hairy skin could be significantly improved. For example, by connecting several skins to each other. This, that is, the "seven-skinned" and still covered with a bronze leaf, was the shield of Ajax Telamonid. It is believed that such a large shield will be too heavy. It is known that the average density of bronze 8300 kg / m3. Thus, with a sheet size on such a shield from 1,65 m to 1 m, a width of about 70 cm and a thickness of 0,3 mm will give us a weight of about 4 kg. The total weight of the seven bull skins is 6 kg plus 4 kg of the bronze plate, that is, the total weight of the shield will be about 10 kg. It is difficult, but possible, moreover, the Iliad stresses that this shield was heavy for Ajax himself.

The Iliad also describes the shield of Achilles, made by the god Hephaestus, and he made many images on it for the sake of beauty. Famous English scientist Peter Connolly and Italian historian Raffaele D'Amato tried to reconstruct the scenes depicted on this shield. The work was done a lot, because all on the shield of Achilles were 78 scenes, so its volume can be imagined!

For maximum accuracy of the image and copying the characteristic manner of that time, images from frescoes were used, as well as various artifacts. For example, hunting dogs are a fresco from Tirinf of the 13th century. BC er Achaean woman - Tirinf fresco of the 13th century BC er women in a chariot - a 13th-century Tirinf mural BC er priestess with a temple fresco from the 13th century Mycenae. BC er - and so on.

Reconstruction of the shield of Achilles.

Based on the description in the Iliad, Hector’s shield may well be imagined as an “eight-shaped” (proto-Dipilon type) of several layers of bull skin.
Articles from this series:
Weapons and armor of soldiers of the Trojan War. Swords and daggers (part one)
Armor of the Trojan War (part two)
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  1. Igor39
    Igor39 5 October 2015 06: 20
    About ancient weapons of different countries and eras, cool articles, since childhood I read these.
    1. abrakadabre
      abrakadabre 5 October 2015 09: 50
      I propose to modify / supplement the article a bit in terms of reducing the sizes of shields by type. If for growth shields it is quite clear - from the ground or from the ankle to the chin, then for round shields it is worth supplementing. And also, if possible, bring photos and / or images of the back of the shields and dwell more clearly on how to wear them.
      For example, from direct reconstruction - attempts to wear and dynamically operate the shield in a duel, it is known that a large shield is very difficult and tiring to use only with a fist grip. Although the Roman scutum had a major fist grip.
      1. Riv
        Riv 5 October 2015 15: 21
        The reason is very simple. Scootum legionnaire pressed on the enemy and in addition worked with a sword. From the back rows could file a pilum for the throw. Everything is very simple: throw the enemy a step away, create a gap in the ranks of others. Wedge this gap. The back row will cover with its shields from the sides, lengthening the line. Repeat N times. Sooner or later, the enemy’s system will be broken, the manipulation will unfold in his rear and the enemy will be surrounded.
        Hence the fist grip. A heavy scutum will not be thrown to one side, and this was not necessary. You need to press the body, but only hold it with your hand.

        Such tactics, however, did not always bring victory. An example is Cannes, where the Romans used the deep structure to break through the front of the Carthaginians. However, it took time and the Romans managed to surround earlier. The result is known. The square was squeezed from the flanks, the forward movement had to be stopped. And stopping a deep formation always means his death.
      2. The comment was deleted.
      3. Mikhail3
        Mikhail3 5 October 2015 20: 05
        The round shield is the weapon of a solitary warrior. Its size depends on the height of the owner, so statistics are not an assistant here. The location and shape of the fastening loops and handles depends on the style used by the warrior, there will also be nothing uniform here. There was no modern unification at that time, "let everything be bad, but the same" - this great idea was not yet born ...
  2. D-Master
    D-Master 5 October 2015 06: 35
    Great article. Thank you so much ... It is such articles that make Topwar itself. The history of weapons and a deep immersion in history is his fad. The author is bold +
  3. Kibalchish
    Kibalchish 5 October 2015 08: 52
    Thank you for the article.
  4. Glot
    Glot 5 October 2015 09: 02
    It’s difficult, but possible, besides, the Iliad emphasizes that this shield was heavy for Ajax himself.

    Well, Ajax was not a weak boy. winked Moreover, this puff shield saved him from Hector's spear, it seems, since he was able to break through only six layers.
    The article is, as always, a plus. good
  5. Riv
    Riv 5 October 2015 09: 24
    It’s ridiculous for us, brethren, to begin a detailed analysis of this and again check the history of physics ...

    We take a photo of the modern reconstruction (Ajax, view from the front) and look at it. What do we see? Homeless. No greaves, no bib, no normal bracers. But Ajax was by no means a poor man. Could afford metal armor.
    Pay attention to his shield. The frame is clearly wooden. Those who wish can try to bend the tree on their own, as shown in the figure. It is possible, yes, but only for sufficiently fine details. And what is the use of thin branches in battle? Hektor bangs some kind of a club on top and there is no shield.
    In general, the reconstruction of the check by the Musashi method does not stand up.

    Now let's look at the shields described in the article. Let's start with the GXNUMX. It makes no sense to make it metal. The metal shield must necessarily bend towards the enemy. Then when hitting it, the impact energy will be transferred to the base. If it is made flat, then the metal will tear off the base with a blow. Obviously, it is difficult to make the whole "eight" convex, and it will come out overweight. Why was it invented at all? Open the "Iliad" and count the places where the hero picks up a stone from under his feet and knocks out the brains of the enemy. Even the leaders did not have to perform such a technique, and the light infantry had a sling as the most common weapon. So: the leather "figure eight" perfectly holds the blow of a small stone. Ideal defense for a fighter who has nothing but a shield and a spear. In the same way, the vast majority of round shields were covered with leather.

    Subsequently, such a design had to be abandoned. The classic Roman shield was a rather complex structure, assembled from layers of thin boards with a transverse arrangement. The fact is that by that time the main throwing weapon was a dart, from which the skin practically did not protect. The lethal force of bows has also grown. So I had to invent.
    1. Riv
      Riv 5 October 2015 09: 36
      By the way, about Ajax ... At the reconstruction they depicted a bearded ambala under thirty years old. In fact, among those who came to Troy, the oldest of the leaders was Nestor, who was not even forty. Odyssey was torn from a young wife and little son. In those days, they married very early and well if Odysseus was eighteen. Ajax were no older. Agamemnon and Menelaus were twenty-twenty-five years old.
      Gopota, in short. In general, they had there the concepts were the most that neither are Gopov’s. Remember how Achilles and Agamemnon did not share the woman. Odyssey why did you have to stand out with your mind? But because his team was the weakest. Fewer than all the ships under Troy brought.
      1. D-Master
        D-Master 5 October 2015 09: 52
        Colleague, you have a decent command of material and syllable. Write an article, for example, on Roman shields or about Troy, we will read and appreciate with pleasure ...
        Regards D-Master
        1. Riv
          Riv 5 October 2015 13: 08
          I'm not a fan of edged weapons. So ... I dabbled a little in my youth.
      2. victor
        victor 5 October 2015 21: 42
        So, even in this article, the main word - COULD ... But you could not be able to - assumptions ... As one historian said, the science of assumptions and theories, one sees this, the other thinks differently, the third is Ukrainian, he the sea is digging ...
    2. Pancho
      Pancho 5 October 2015 21: 09
      Quote: Riv
      It’s ridiculous for us, brethren, to begin a detailed analysis of this and again check the history of physics.

      Quote: Riv
      I’m not even a leader

      Somehow your presentation style is multidirectional.
  6. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 5 October 2015 10: 10
    Thank you, Vyacheslav, for the continuation of the topic. Unfortunately, I have not read all of your previous topics, although I try to do it. I am glad that I "discovered" an author like you.
  7. kyznets
    kyznets 5 October 2015 15: 30
    But I am concerned about a purely technological issue. How did Hephaestus hammer the shield and armor of Achilles? How??? We were told at school that all weapons and armor were made of bronze. But bronze is NOT forged. Its ductility is not enough for forging. In short, either the material is not bronze, but a different, malleable copper alloy, such as brass. But then this material is not suitable for either weapons or armor. Either in those days they knew how to make malleable bronze, or hardened brass.
    1. abrakadabre
      abrakadabre 5 October 2015 15: 45
      So nothing prevented the ancient masters from casting bronze. This is not steel.
      1. victor
        victor 5 October 2015 21: 50
        Have you studied the subject of material science? Hot metal processing ??? Metals and alloys ??? Do you know that bronze is an alloy and quite complex? That iron is much more common and easier to process? You try to cast bronze yourself, or forge a piece of iron - understand the difference.
      2. kyznets
        kyznets 6 October 2015 04: 40
        The Iliad says that it was the anvil and the hammer that were being prepared, that the armor was forged. And they did not cast.
    2. Riv
      Riv 5 October 2015 15: 48
      How is bronze not forged ??? On the contrary: forging increases its strength (like steel, by the way), because it removes minor defects in the structure of the metal.
      1. kyznets
        kyznets 6 October 2015 04: 48
        Not forged. Like cast iron is not forged. Both bronze and cast iron (even the so-called "malleable" cast iron can only be minted to remove defects. But when forging they crack, crumble. I mean, maybe someone knows what the armor was made of? How could the Greeks to make strong blades from copper alloy, for sword fighting, shields, armor? For a long time I have been interested in a purely technological question. After all, they did it. And even most likely forged. Kstalty, after heating to red, if copper is immersed in water, it becomes softer - it will burn out And if brass is heated to red and immersed in water, then it will become harder, and it will break during forging and chasing.
        1. Riv
          Riv 6 October 2015 06: 29
          My friend, you are talking nonsense.
          Bronze is not only forged, it can even be stamped. What is annealing and how does it differ from quenching, you are also not in the know. Go learn the materiel.
          1. kyznets
            kyznets 14 October 2015 07: 46
            Could you name the brands of bronze that are forged or stamped? I forged brass, copper, but it didn't work with bronzes. Please teach me how it is possible to forge and stamp bronze with its very low malleability, almost absent. Don't confuse bronze with brass that is actually forged. I wish you to be more respectful towards your opponents. BRONZE DOESN'T COUNT. Except, of course, tinless bronzes. But this is no longer a story about ILIAD.
      2. kyznets
        kyznets 14 October 2015 07: 54
        Forging in steel, by the way, increases strength only when cold surface forging is cold-worked. During hot forging, viscosity and elasticity increase due to an increase in uniformity, changes in the crystal structure of steel and the shape, direction and size of crystals. Forging is carried out precisely for this - to change the shape, size and direction of the crystal structure (if this can be called defects in the structure of the alloy). By annealing, by the way, almost all the results of forging and hardening are removed. Steel again acquires the original crystalline structure.
    3. Aljavad
      Aljavad 6 October 2015 03: 46
      kyznets (1) SU Yesterday, 15:30 New
      But I am concerned about a purely technological issue. How did Hephaestus hammer the shield and armor of Achilles? How??? We were told at school that all weapons and armor were made of bronze. But bronze is NOT forged. Its ductility is not enough for forging. In short, either the material is not bronze, but a different, malleable copper alloy, such as brass. But then this material is not suitable for either weapons or armor. Either in those days they knew how to make malleable bronze, or hardened brass.

      The Iliad is not a technological instruction. This is a poem. And when Homer is documentary accurate in details, and this is not lost in the translations, it's a miracle.
      In history, the "bronze" of the Bronze Age means any alloy of copper. Including brass.
      The poet (not a technologist) Homer, or his translators, or all of them together meant the beating of metal with a hammer by "forging" (bronze DOES NOT SWEEP). Including straightening and chasing.

      And all 78 scenes on the Achilles shield were most likely executed by chasing. Although Hephaestus was a god. His technology has the right to be prohibitive.
      1. Cat man null
        Cat man null 6 October 2015 04: 56
        Quote: Aljavad
        In history, the "bronze" of the Bronze Age means any alloy of copper. Including brass

        And really - what's the difference? Cu + Sn, Cu + Zn ...

        Just one letter ...

        Kidding wink
      2. kyznets
        kyznets 6 October 2015 04: 57
        I agree. Not an instruction. But how exactly everything is described then: he made a fire in the furnace, planted an anvil on a pole, took a large hammer (not for minting, minted with small hammers). I didn’t find the truth about bronze. They write that copper mixed with silver and gold. Generally brilliant text! Everything is very technically accurate, technologically advanced. And details, technical details, not poetic. And most importantly, beautifully written! By the way, in favor of coinage, it says that a shield of five sheets was made. It would be interesting to know which sheets of material. I'm hypothetically interested. It would be nice if someone knew. Or maybe he does. And the author, when he wrote, most likely knew how to do it, and from what. I just wrote for granted and known to all who might be interested. It is written so. Miracle! I read voraciously.
        1. kalibr
          6 October 2015 17: 54
          Especially for you and others who are interested in this. There will be material on the reconstruction of all these swords and armor. I contacted British reenactors - they gave the nod to reproduce the pictures.
  8. Stilet
    Stilet 5 October 2015 21: 59
    Strongly and fundamentally disagrees with the theory of the Dipilon shield. This shield was convex and was carried out by weaving its frame. And then it was lined with leather and, if desired, not in one layer, and also strengthened, not everywhere, but with the availability of funds with small metal umbons. And this shield was an elastic frame, which was quite difficult to destroy with one blow from above with a club and a club. And they came up with it as a replacement for the hoplone in the phalanx, because covered almost the entire figure of a warrior. The recesses on the sides made it possible to press the spear closer to the body in line or use a copy, the line kept much better, when compared with the hoplone. Greek version of the scutum.
    1. Riv
      Riv 6 October 2015 06: 33
      There is a problem. The Dipilon shield was known long before the appearance of the phalanx.
  9. Turkir
    Turkir 6 October 2015 00: 05
    And where is the third part of Shpakovsky's articles?
    Tell her name.
  10. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 6 October 2015 11: 38
    Quote: Turkir
    And where is the third part of Shpakovsky's articles?
    Tell her name.

    О2.10 this article. He participated in the discussion, kalibr, in my opinion. Click on the nickname, click on the words of the publication, ALL publications for all time will be released. Verney - "see all publications"
  11. Jääkorppi
    Jääkorppi 7 October 2015 15: 34
    Growth shields were already among the Sumerians! The spear has always been the main weapon of a warrior (until the 18th century) !! Even the line-up of the shield-bearers was known to both the Shusher and the Het, and the Assyrians! The Greek phalanx is something more - the harmonious interaction of the eights living in the same tent and co-trained! Respect and respect article !! But the technology for the production of armor and weapons is interesting!
  12. owl
    owl 12 November 2015 09: 22
    In fact, the pelt had an elbow lock (whether it was correctly expressed) and the cutout was on top in battle.
  13. Llur
    Llur 31 January 2016 00: 40
    Interesting article. Does anyone know - why on the billboards on the sides of the recess? I apologize in advance if the question is stupid, but I can not find in the net the answer to this torturing question.
  14. owl
    owl 31 January 2016 10: 31
    The fact of the matter is that no one can say about this, anything intelligible. The version about relief - does not hold water, without a shield at all - it is easy) The version about sticking a spear - the notch is too large and is located above in battle, although there is an iconography where it is below. But not on the side.
  15. Llur
    Llur 31 January 2016 12: 51
    I remember a few years ago a bourgeois documentary transmission explaining the function of cutouts - a convenient overview in battle, a small shield covers the upper body of a light infantryman, and a notch makes it possible to observe the enemy. And recently, the network was stunned with an argument - the review is uncomfortable and a small shield protects against cavalry attacks and a recess exclusively for a spear.
  16. owl
    owl 31 January 2016 22: 41
    "All this is very possible." During the reign of the pelta, there was no cavalry as such. By the time it was replaced by a haplon, the cavalry also remained an auxiliary branch of the army. And during the period of scutum - too. A recess for a spear ... If we turn to the images, those of them that date from the Messinian Wars to the Macedonian period depict warriors in a close formation striking from behind a haplon over a shield. Jabbing strikes in the upper tier.
    And note, the lack of a cutout does not bother them.
    And with the advent of sarissa, blows were applied in the middle tier, with a general decrease in the diameter of the shield in the first lines, with two hands.
    Maybe the technological aspect? Well there, the shape of the skin, because the pelt is a light shield.
  17. Llur
    Llur 31 January 2016 22: 56
    Thank you for the detailed answer, the ancient military art is very complex and diverse, it is a pity it is bypassed in education.
  18. owl
    owl 31 January 2016 23: 07
    Here's another. But here, we see the early hoplites armed with two spears. As well as bell-shaped shells characteristic of the archaic period.
  19. owl
    owl 31 January 2016 23: 13
    Yes, and another moment. Shields with cutouts, dipilon and pelt in their greatest distribution belong to the archaic period. As well as open helmets, such as Illyrian, giving a good overview. All this is supported by two spears. And with the formation of the classical phalanx, one can observe - the appearance of a hoplon, the appearance of a closed helmet (Colchis and other types) and one spear.
  20. Igor Volokitin
    Igor Volokitin 14 October 2020 19: 05
    "Pay attention to his shield. The frame is clearly wooden. Those who wish can try to bend a tree on their own as shown in the picture. It is possible, yes, but only for sufficiently thin parts. And what is the use of thin branches in battle? Hector will crash with a club. on top and no shield.
    In general, the reconstruction of the Musashi method fails. "

    I propose to break (not the commentator, but let the cadaver, or something) on ​​the back with a sled runner. Let's see if he straightens up or not?