Vol. VII, no. x, October 1997

       At our encampment at Marietta with La Belle Compagnie, we were joined by Darren Nunez of Legio X Fretensis (Louisiana).  We were all suitably impressed with each others' toys, and had a great time gabbing with each other and chatting up the crowd.  Tom Kolb and Mike Cope completed our military compliment, while Jane Walker and Linda Thompson worked the herbalist booth.  Saturday was fine and fun, visitors including John Novicki with video camera, and George Metz (Philadelphia), eager to try on his Museum Replica lorica.  Saturday night Darren, Mike, and I slept in the tent (Lucius having played extraordinarius and camped out Friday night as well).
       Sunday morning, with the weather forecasts worsening by the minute, La Belle began to pack up.  I thought we'd stick around at least until noon, when the rain was supposed to arrive, but it started just at opening time, so we promptly struck camp.  My sincere apologies to all who hoped to see us in action on Sunday, but having hauled a carload of wet gear home from the last several events, I was in no mood to do it again.

MTA '98
       The application form for Military Through the Ages 1998 is due in by November 30--who's going?  It will be held March 21-22, at Jamestown Settlement as usual.  Hmm, another carload of wet gear...

       Mike Cope got his helmet, Imperial Gallic type A, from Joe Piela of Lonely Mountain Forge.  It's quite nice, with only a couple minor flaws which I reported to Mr. Piela.  In return, he sent me price info for future type A helmets:  2-piece bowl welded to "tail" (neckguard), $150;  1-piece raised bowl welded to tail, $375;  bowl with tail completely raised in one piece, $500.  Other types would presumably by priced accordingly, but remember that the Imperial Gallic type A has no brasswork.  He also offers sword blades, hand-forged from 1095 spring steel:  Mainz $200, Fulham $175, Pompeii $150.  For a blade with hilt add $100 in each case, but the hilt we've seen was not worth that much.  For a tanged pilum head he estimates c. $75, or $80 for a socketed one, but has to make a couple to be sure.
       In other blade news, Tom Kolb has a Mainz pattern blade on order from Jeff Hedgecock, who has made some beautiful medieval pieces, for just $125.
       We got a look at the Museum Replicas lorica, which is too late for our period but will get a critique anyway.  It seems to be 16-guage instead of 18 as advertised, because it's several pounds heavier than ours.  It is also very long, reaching well past the waist--apparently the girdle plates are just too wide.  The backplate has been made in one piece with the mid-collar plate, instead of being separate plates riveted together (so there is only one seam at the shoulder instead of two).  However, both back and breastplates are plenty long, so the backplate could be cut and reriveted without risk of over-shortening.  The lesser shoulder guards may be a little too wide, and the collar plate edges have been turned outwards and folded flat rather than just being turned upwards.  Other than that, it's a pretty solid piece of armor--the fittings are tough and the workmanship is decent.  The whole question of whether this "standard" reconstruction of the Newstead lorica is actually accurate remains unsettled--the original remains are very fragmentary and the collar plate fastenings have been debated.

       The Ermine Street Guard's latest little newsletter has a rundown on their events this year.  Their Big One was Kirby Hall, an enormous MTA-like gathering where they were joined by 6 other Roman groups to field a full century of 80 legionaries plus officers.  They formed two testudos of 40 men each, then two large wedges with 20 auxiliaries forming a third.  It must have been incredible!!  The Kirby Hall event will be held again in the summer of 1998, if you happen to be going in that direction.
       Jane Sibley sent an article from Journal of Roman Studies(v.9, 1996), "Fish Sauces from Herodian Masada".  A  couple amphorae had masses of tiny fish bones, the remains of a gourmet fish-paste called allec.  Originally the dregs of the garum-making process, allec became a delicacy itself, and these jars were apparently from King Herod's personal store.  Yummy!
       For you websurfers out there, check out theWladyslaw Jan Kowalski site at    As well as research on airborne pathogens, it has wonderful pages on Roman ball and board games, the Roman calendar, and an art gallery.  Learn to play authentic games!

Enough!  It's late, I'm sick, and you want this issue before November, right?
Official Newsletter
Editor Matthew Amt