This site deals mainly with
reconstructing the hoplite of the Persian War era, 490-480 BC,
which is the most popular with reenactors. There is also a page with some guidelines for earlier
and later gear, e.g. 7th-6th centuries BC, Peloponnesian War
(431-404 BC), and Hellenistic (Alexander and later), plus Thracian
peltasts and more. For the Trojan War era and its Homeric
heroes such as Achilles and Hector, see my Bronze Age
site. I have noticed that many people collecting Greek
equipment have no guidance beyond movies and the advertisements
written by vendors, so this site will attempt to lay out some
basic information and recommendations. My research has
hardly been exhaustive, but this should get you started.
This is NOT an attempt to start an ancient Greek living history group or hoplite unit! However, I have decided to adjust my descriptions and recommendations to reflect a level of historical accuracy roughly equivalent to what my Roman group, the Twentieth Legion, strives to maintain. So when I say that something is "unacceptable", it would be rejected for use by anyone portraying a hoplite as part of the Twentieth Legion. If you are not part of the Twentieth Legion, obviously you can read my rules as "more like guidelines", as they say (even if you are a non-member at a Twentieth Legion event!). But if you stick to my guidelines as closely as you can, very few hoplite groups in the world will find much fault with your clothing and gear. Note that the level of accuracy I aim for is NOT what I would consider "stitch-counting" or extreme, and a number of compromises are taken as givens right off the bat (e.g., machine-woven fabrics, modern alloys, etc.). Also note that this site will probably never be as in-depth and thorough as the Twentieth Legion site, but please let me know if you feel something is notably lacking!
New research and better examination of old research has changed some of our old beliefs. Be aware that much of the old information will continue to circulate for years, and that many popular books must now be used with great caution. That includes all our beloved basic sources: Peter Connolly's Greek Armies, and/or pertinent sections of Greece and Rome at War; John Warry's Warfare in the Classical World; various Osprey volumes; and AM Snodgrass' Arms and Armour of the Greeks.
Research and shopping are
hard! The ancient Greeks seem to have gone out of their way
to make every item of armor or weaponry difficult to reproduce,
and modern archeologists seem to have hidden away vast quantities
of artifacts just to keep reenactors from finding out how the darn
things were made. What is worse is that almost every
piece of commercially-made ancient Greek military equipment is
historically INaccurate in some way, ranging from "that
could be better" to "utter trash." It's a challenging era,
but with these guidelines you should be able to skip most of the
research, and reduce the time and danger of shopping.
Oh, movies--yes, they are
very inspirational for a lot of folks! But as far as history
goes, the rule of thumb is to assume that everything you see in a
movie is WRONG, and go from there. Movies are for fun, but
go elsewhere for knowledge, eh? Thanks!
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THE "A" WORD--AUTHENTICITY
Authenticity is FUN! Having been a historical reenactor in a dozen different eras for 30 years, aiming for historical accuracy is second nature to me. I find authenticity to be FUN, as well as challenging and just plain satisfying. I think of myself as a teacher, and anyone who looks at me, even if they never get close enough to ask anything, is a student. So I want my lesson to be as accurate as possible. The closer you get to what the Greeks actually wore, the more you learn about them, and the more you can share that with others. THAT, to me, is what makes this Hobby great! Most reenactment or living history groups that I know of use standards of authenticity very similar to the guidelines on my websites. It's a matter of pride and professionalism--they want to look like what they claim to portray.
I can't tell you what to do! If the pursuit of historical accuracy is not for you, fine! Have fun and I hope you enjoy my website. If you're not a member of a group that I run, then I can't tell you what you can or can't wear! However, there is a growing number of events which would welcome Greek hoplites, IF their clothing and gear is accurate and realistic enough to pass muster. So a more accurate kit mean more opportunities to wear it. Serious historical events (such as multi-era encampments) are really FUN, with hundreds of visitors coming just to see reenactors! It's possible that even local Greek festivals will start to get more picky about who they invite to be hoplites, looking for those who are more realistically dressed and equipped.
Save money and effort by getting it right the first time! If you're just getting started, great--aiming for historical accuracy the first time saves all kinds of expense and frustration. Authentic equipment is generally lighter and more comfortable than the less accurate products. If you already have everything and are daunted by the idea of having to start over, hang in there, and don't give in to that frustration! Focus on your love of ancient Greece, take things slowly, and by all means yell for help if you need it!
It's not that hard! My guidelines are designed to achieve a very acceptable level of historical accuracy as cheaply and easily as possible. While I certainly encourage anyone who wants to take things to an even higher level, note that I am not by any means a "stitch-counter" or some kind of elitist snob. As well-known for accuracy as I am, I almost never have hand-woven fabrics or hand-forged weapons. And while I love to make as much of my own gear as possible, it's perfectly acceptable to buy it--that's what most ancient hoplites did, after all! Heck, you don't even really have to do much research, if any--it's already been done by myself and others! Take our word for how something should look, and you'll look like you should.
--DISCLAIMER! I can tell you where to order stuff, but I
can NOT guarantee quality or service! You can have a bad
experience with almost any craftsman or vendor. It kills me
to hear the stories, but I cannot get involved in any dispute, nor
be held accountable for any difficulty or loss you may
suffer. But serious problems are really not common! (I
already warned you about "Made in India", right?)
Royal Oak Armory--Jeffrey Hildebrandt, Ontario, Canada.
Some of the BEST armor and helmets around, plus weapons and other
Fabrica Romanorum--Matt Lukes, Canada. http://fabricaromanorum.shawwebspace.ca/
arms and armor (as well as Roman), including one-piece helmets at
a substantial savings.
Manning Imperial--Craig Sitch, Australia, http://www.manningimperial.com/.
Custom shields, helmets, greaves, swords, and more.
Lonely Mountain Forge--Joe Piela, http://www.lonelymountain.hoplologia.org/
. My friend Tom and I got our Corinthian helmets from
him--you can see Tom's being raised in one piece on Joe's website,
and Tom's greaves, too. He does excellent work and his
prices are good.
Imperium Ancient Armory--California. http://www.imperiumancientarmory.com/.
gear and other sources, generally very good. (Linothorax
looks great but is obsolete glued linen--ask about leather or
Kult of Athena--http://www.kultofathena.com.
reputation for service. Deepeeka and Daniyal equipment (see
below), plus their own versions of a few items. Don't even
look at the other brands.
line of Deepeeka gear (see below). (Steer clear of the other
(click British flag for English). Deepeeka and Daniyal gear,
plus their own line which is mostly good.
La Wren's Nest --Lawrence Brooks, 35 Chadbourne Ridge
Road, Hollis, Maine 04042.207-727-5844, fax 207-727-4596. http://www.lawrensnest.com.
helmets, weapons, and accessories (See below).
"Wulf"--United Kingdom, wulf.lighting AT virgin DOT net, or sabre.wulf AT virgin DOT net. Makes a very nice aspis (shield). Not cheap! He may be hard to get hold of (being very busy!), but this is the only contact information I have for him.
ASPIS/HOPLON BLANKS--Michael Broyles, mjbroyles AT
yahoo DOT com. Approximately $450 plus shipping. Any
covering or fittings would be extra.
Bronze Age Craft--Neil Burridge, UK. http://www.bronze-age-swords.com/aegean_swords.htm
(bottom of page) Trilobate arrowheads in cast bronze!
Darken the sky with really good arrows!
Venetian Cat Greek Pottery-- http://venetiancat.com/Price-List2.html
you want FABULOUS ceramics, Julia Passamonti is the lady to go to.
***Deepeeka Steelcrafts, India--This is the supplier for
many vendors. While these items are far more accurate than
any previous "off the shelf" gear, there are still flaws of
various degrees. BEWARE: Most vendors offer Deepeeka's
good stuff and bad without knowing the difference! See the
various pages on this site for what's usable.
Deepeeka has a website at http://www.deepeeka.com, but they only sell wholesale so no price information is available. Prices will vary from vendor to vendor. Deepeeka will not be able to give you any more detailed information about the historical accuracy of their products, either, since they only copy what someone shows them or what they see in pictures. They don't understand authenticity or reenacting!
(DSC) is another Indian manufacturer, RECENTLY SPLIT into Daniyal
and "Ideal Armory". We're hoping that one or both companies
continue to produce good stuff! Their Greek shield is heavy,
but good otherwise. Available through Kult of Athena (http://www.kultofathena.com)
or directly from Daniyal. You might also be able to buy it
through Imperium Ancient Armory in California, http://www.imperiumancientarmory.com/,
or Armamentaria in the UK, http://www.armamentaria.com/store/
Avoid Museum Replicas and Windlass Steelcrafts! Nothing that they have is any better than the equivalent item from the above sources, and most of it is worse. They have demonstrated repeatedly that they have no knowledge or concern for historical accuracy in their pre-medieval products.
People often ask about the
cast bronze Greek helmets from Hellenic Art--Some of these look
reasonable in form, but they claim to be cast rather than
correctly hammer forged. Most are inaccurate in appearance,
too heavy to wear, painted green rather than polished, and
EXPENSIVE! Better for the shelf than the head.
For a long list of
suppliers of materials and equipment, see the Legio XX Suppliers
The Forum for Ancient Reenacting--A relatively new
board, aimed at reenactors in North America
Online Agora--Not much action, needs more people
THE PHALANX Email
discussion list, but pretty much dead...
King Leonidas and the Spartans of Thermopylae
The Greek Warriors--Hoplite unit in New York
The Warriors of Greece--Charlotte, North Carolina
Taxeis Plataia--The Plataians--Canada
A branch of Hoplologia
The Hoplite Association, UK--A hoplite reenactment group,
and they look good!
http://www.4hoplites.com/ --Includes more equipment guides, etc.
Sydney Ancients--Mark Kelly. Hoplites and other
ancient types, Australia.
Hoplite group, Germany
Listing of Greek Festivals in
the US--Need some place to wear this stuff, right?
John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation Electronic
Library--15 Museum Catalogs online, full of
artifacts, including some armor and weaponry
Theoi Greek Mythology--Large galleries of vase
Sparta: Her People, Her Culture, Her Legacy--by Kevin
Marshall and Kevin Hendryx, still under construction but GREAT
Ancient Greek Armour, Shields and Helmets--Great links and
photos, but beware of the links to equipment vendors!
Hellenic Macedonia--Artifact Photo Gallery. Includes
Philip II's equipment and more.
Metropolitan Museum of Art--Muscled cuirass
Four interesting helmets
Hermann Historica Munchen--Antiquities Auction house,
browse through for photos of helmets, armor, etc.
Slinging.org--Stone Age Ballistics--A number of great
articles on slings and slinging, links, etc.
University of Pennsylvania Museum --Used to have a
Virtual Exhibit, but it seems to be gone.
The Twentieth Legion--see how I spend most of my
time and energy
ROMULUS, The Founder of Rome--My page on everyone's
favorite Villanovan warrior is pretty good, too!
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THIS PAGE AND THIS AUTHOR
This page last revised
My vital statistics:
Matthew Amt, Laurel, MD, email matthew_amt AT yahooo DOT com
. (Be sure to put something distinctive in the subject line,
or your message may get deleted as spam!) I have
constructed this website to be of some assistance to anyone
dabbling in this era, and you may contact me if you think you can
wheedle more information out of me (oh, probably). And of
course if you think you have something to add, by all means let me