Vol. XII, no. viii, August 2002
SEPTEMBER FABRICA AT CAMPBELLS'
The monthly Legio XX workshop on Saturday, September 7 will be at the new home of Richard and Allison Campbell, phone 703---. This is where Richard's mother used to live, just a couple blocks from their old place, about six miles south of Alexandria off the GW Parkway. Some of you have been there in the past to work on the caupona. Otherwise, it's the same gameplan as usual, 10 AM to 5 PM, bring stuff to work on or tell Quintus (or whomever) what materials/tools you need me to bring. See you there! Directions:
--From Maryland, crossing the Wilson Bridge on the inner loop of I-95/495 the Capital Beltway: take the first Virginia exit, 177A, which is a hairpin right turn. Go up to the light, which is Washington Street, and turn right. After the last traffic light, go six miles to the Vernon View Drive exit on the right. Go about 1/2 mile to the third right, Battery Road, and turn right. Go 100 yards, turn left on Camfield Drive, and #8820 is about 1/4 mile up on the left.
--From Virginia on the outer loop of I-95/495 the Capital Beltway: Take the 177C, Route 1 exit onto Route 1 South. Look for the sign for Fort Hunt Road to the right; keep to the right about 1/4 mile, bearing right to the light, and turn LEFT across Route 1 to follow Fort Hunt Road. Go about six miles: At five miles you will pass Carl Sandburg Intermediate School on your right. After another mile Fort Hunt road turns off left: keep straight on Vernon View Drive. After another 1/3 mile turn left on Battery Road, and proceed as above.
--From Mt. Vernon: From the traffic circle at Mount Vernon, go north on the GW Parkway. Go about two miles to Vernon View Drive, turn left, and proceed as above.
The Legio XX Fall Encampment will be on September 14-15 at Marietta Mansion. This is our annual "lazy" event, just us on the lawn chucking the occasional pilum. (Hey, some of us haven't recovered from Roman Days, yet!) Public hours are 10 AM to 4 PM each day.
The next Universal Soldier encampment at Fort Washington is on September 28-29. If you've been there before and got a registration form in the mail, fill it out and send it back to the Fort as soon as you can. If you have not been there before, or didn't get a form, be sure to register at the event. This is another "lazy" event, but the other groups and the Fort itself are worth seeing, and we traditionally have a pilum-chucking range.
Saturday, October 26 is a one-day event at University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia. They are reopening their Mediterranean World section and we are part of the festivities. I'll scare up some details for next month's issue.
As always, contact Quintus with your hopes, dreams, and needs for all these events.
HOLD THOSE BRUSHES!!
Remember last month's great revelations and complex recipes for Roman wax-based paint? Associate Member John McDermott kindly sent it along to Holger Ratsdorf in Germany, who says this:
"We know this technology from a lot of mummy-portraits. But not on a single scutum it was used; the shields from Dura Europos (and others as well) were all painted with casein colors."
Aha! Data at last! Now, I'm not sure just where the chemical analyses of these shields have been published (or at least recorded), but Holger knows his stuff very well and I tend to trust him on this. A growing number of medieval reenactors are using casein paints on their shields, and it is time for us Romans to follow suit.
Casein is derived from milk, and is available in a couple different forms. Art supply stores such as Pearl Art and Crafts (http://www.pearlart.com/) carry casein paint in tubes, probably marked with the same standard color codes that Minervalis told us to watch for, as well as dry pigments (if you feel like mixing your own paint up!), egg tempera in tubes, etc. Then there is the Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company (http://www.milkpaint.com/) (hereafter referred to as "OFMPC"), which sells casein paints dry in bags, to be mixed with water. Their color selection is not huge, and possibly a little on the "muted" side, but with a few samples and a little experimental mixing we should be able to get some good results. Using it will hardly be more difficult than stirring a can of latex enamel, and our finished shields will be MUCH more authentic. You can order directly from the OFMPC or hit one of the suppliers listed on their website.
Now, the only remaining glitch is that casein paint gets water-stained in the rain. The OFMPC recommends coating the surface (after the paint dries) with paste wax or mink oil to make it waterproof. Probably the Dammar varnish that Minervalis recommended would work, too. Or perhaps we have found the reason for the shield cover?
From now on, Legio XX will not use latex or acrylic paints on our shields. Those that are already painted do not have to be repainted, at least not immediately, though that is certainly a worthy option. It is possible that the final visual difference will be so pronounced that we will decide that we can't live with the old paint jobs at all, but let's burn that bridge when we get to it. If you are working on a new shield, however, use casein paint or one of the other period options (wax/encaustic or egg tempera). The extra effort involved is minimal, and our historical accuracy will improve dramatically.
I got a new sword! It is a copy of a gladius hispaniensis found at Smihel, Slovenia, dating to about 175 BC. Mark Morrow of Arkansas made the blade for me, my first hand-forged sword, in fact. The blade itself is 26 inches long by two inches wide, with a gracefully waisted shape--there is a photo on the Gladius page of the website. I made the hilt out of poplar and ash, copied from the Altar of Ahenobarbus, and there's a photo of it at the bottom of the Photos page. The finished weapon feels great, and makes you want to whack something! It's very clear why the Romans adopted it. Great work, Mark!
He also made me an excellent socketed pilum head, which can be seen on the Pilum page. Still have to stick it on a shaft. Mark also made a couple very nice shield bosses for Richard Campbell, and a couple other people are placing orders with him, too. He is listed on our Suppliers page under Weapons. Fast and cheap, too!
Ron Kenat got his helmet from Peter Fuller of Medieval Reproductions in Canada. It's an Imperial Gallic type H, very nicely done overall and matching Ron's specifications pretty closely. But the eyebrows are crooked! The back part of one is a half-inch higher than the other, more of an "oops" than even I would recommend. So Ron is going to see what, if anything, Mr. Fuller is willing and able to do about it. Otherwise we might just be left with raising the brow reinforce on one side to make the difference less noticeable. Otherwise, it's a great helmet, and I don't think we need to boycott Peter because of this mistake. Just something to watch out for with any custom work from a previously untried armorer.
I finally got around to reading Roman Clothing and Fashion by AT Croom, and it is fascinating! (Probably a few Legio XX members who saw it long ago will be saying, "We coulda told you that!") Like any other source, it can't necessarily be taken as gospel, but it makes some some very interesting observations, particularly about women's clothing. The mysterious stola is interpreted as a type of over-tunic with the front and back connected by narrow straps over the shoulders. It also seems that women in our period rarely used brooches or fibulae: the popular "gap-sleeved" tunica was apparently fastened along the top edge by small knots of fabric (or buttons?), and the palla was simply wrapped and draped. Men's tunics and cloaks were the garments that required fibulae. Unfortunately, it looks like the Greek wmen's peplos style of dress only appears in portrayals of goddesses and mythical figures, so probably wasn't part of the actual Roman fashion scene at all (though it may have still appeared in Greek fashions). Obviously I'm going to have to do a thorough rewriting of the Civilian Clothing part of the website!
Croom's book covers the whole Imperial period, from the first century AD to the 6th. In a few places it jumps around in time a little, mostly due to scanty evidence on the topic in question. Many of the illustrations, particularly the color plates, deal with the later centuries, interesting stuff in its own right but not doing us earlier types a lot of good! One of the things I was looking for in particular was depictions of men's tunics in various colors, to see what combinations of color and clavi were used, but there was very little about that. On the other hand, there are more literary references to colors and garments than I had suspected, showing a lot about what was considered proper dress at various times for various parts of society.
A rather more disappointing read was Roman Infantry Equipment: The Later Empire, by IP Stephenson. While it is a useful summary of the third century AD, showing just what was used during that period, the author makes some rather grand claims with little or no evidence to back them up. For instance, he is very adamant that a shield with even a small amount of damage is "useless" and would be discarded, its metal parts first stripped off for re-use. There is no indication, however, of what archeological or literary evidence led him to this conclusion! His reconstruction of the thoracomachus or subarmalis is a bit of a stretch, and ends up identical in appearance to a gambeson of the 13th century. There were enough other very debatable (and unsupported) conclusions tossed about that I started to question even the more legitimate information. Oh, and Stephenson blithely repeats a typographical error from Bishop and Coulston, stating the thickness of the layers of the Dura Europas scutum as 15 to 20 millimeters instead of the correct 1.5 to 2 mm. He doesn't blink at the resulting shield board being two inches thick!
Almost all of the line drawings in the book are, annoyingly, simply re-drawn from other sources, notably Bishop and Coulston's Roman Military Equipment. There are some color photographs of nice reproduction items, but the series of color paintings of soldiers in various equipments is rather repititious and not exactly the best quality.
Luckily I did not spend any money on this book, but only borrowed it. The friend who loaned it admits that he knows very little about things Roman, but he felt that the author was simply making things up as he went along. I got the same impression. Actually, I didn't even finish the book, but unless the last chapters (including formations and tactics) were scholarly masterpieces, there is little they could have done to save the whole work.
MORE DISTANT EVENTS
From Patricia Bradford: Roman Market Day, historical re-enactment with gladiators, soldiers and more, Saturday, September 7, 2002, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sacred Oaks Center, Wells, Maine. http://www.romanmarketday.com
Nova Roma is proud to sponsor Roman Market Day, a one-day event that brings history to life with costumed re-enactors, workshops, activities, food and more. The cost is $4 for adults, free for children 12 and under. Attactions include Legio XXIV, the Ludus Magnus gladiatorial troupe, a Children's Table with parent-directed crafts on Roman themes, and a chance to partake of authentic Roman food and drink. Vendors include La Wren's Nest and Imperium Ancient Arts.
For more information, contact Will and Pat Bradford at 207---; or Julie and Lawrence Brooks at 207---. Nova Roma http://www.novaroma.org.
From Darren Nunez of Legio III Gallica, New Orleans: The "Return to Rome II" event will take place October 19 and 20 at Destrehan Plantation (http://www.destrehanplantation.org/). The program officially runs from 10:00 - 4:00 on Saturday and 10:00 to 3:00 on Sunday. Restroom facilities are available but no showers. Tent camping is available on site. Hotels can be found near Louis Armstrong International Airport, about 15 minutes away. Arrivals should be scheduled for late Friday afternoon/evening or early Saturday Morning.
Breakfast and Lunch and dinner will be provided on Saturday and Breakfast and Lunch on Sunday. Saturday evenings meal will be a great feast provided by our civilians. As we get closer, I'll need to know a headcount so we can prepare for the meals.
Our camp will be setup in the back yard of the plantation with an area set aside for drill and another for the camp itself.
Civilian portrayals are most welcome. Since civilians didn't usually travel with a squad of common soldiers, we usually tell the public that the soldiers are providing an escort for a provincial governor's family on their way back to Rome.
[For more details, contact Darren]
From Richard Saulpaugh comes a virtual Walking Tour along a Roman road, http://web.bham.ac.uk/leathepd/walk/walk.html
Since I haven't mentioned it lately, you can find details on how to get Mike Bishop's upcoming book on lorica segmentata on the Armatura site,
Parts of the Legio XX site that have been tweaked this month include Links, Bibliography, Suppliers, Civilian Clothing (more on the way!), Gladius, Pilum, and Scutum.
September 7 -- Monthly Workshop/Muster at Richard and Allison Campbells' house
September 14-15 --Legio XX Fall encampment at Marietta. Our "laid back" event, just us on the lawn.
September 28-29 -- Universal Soldier encampment, Fort Washington, MD
October 26, 2002 -- Demo at Univ. of PA Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia
ADLOCVTIO is the Official Newsletter of the Twentieth Legion, supposedly published on the Ides of each month. I am Quintus, aka Matthew Amt, the Legion's Commander and Editor of the Newsletter, http://www.larp.com/legioxx/. Valete!