Roman scutum plan Roman republican shield #scutum Shield covering & painting.

Our reproduction attempts to reproduce the best we could the model found in Egypt.


Before going further it should be clarified first the possible options, and then our choice. The wooden birch part was made by König, so I will just show and concentrate on our work.


This model is covered with sheep wool felt and has 2 seams spaced on its periphery. At first this may seem a little strange, but when it is reconstructed identically and the felt fabrics are folded at the edge, it is 3 sicknesses of material that reinforce the edge. I have therefore deduced that when the lapidary shows these two seams it means that the shields are covered with felt. When instead only a single seam closer to the edge is present, chances are that the shield are as Polybius description covered with leather.


Why should you cover a shield with wool felt that in itself has no special anti-penetration properties?


Researches lead me to think that felt was just a support for a harder stronger material. If you soak the felt in bone glue quite widespread in ancient times, this felt becomes almost as hard as rawhide leather.


Used alone, bone glue have a tendancy to break when flexed, so it is nescessary to add a little amount of fish glue that was also quite comonly used in antiquity.


All that will work as modern fiber glass and resin and be very strong and resistant. The problem posed is then of a dual nature.


First above 55 degree centigrade there is a high risk that the glue will melt, or even liquefies if the temperature raise even more. This implies that one cannot stock the shields in a place where the heat could become torrid.



Secondly and more problematic this glue is much more sensitive than rawhide to moisture.


This could explain why this type of shield would be better suited to some theatres of operations, and certain types of opponents. It would be quite well suited in the dry regions of the eastern Mediterranean, and also it is ideal if your opponent use the spear as his primary weapons, such as the Greeks.


The type described by Polybius is however better suited for a continental European climate. It resists moisture better (although it is still needs the protection of an additional leather cover for rain protection).


It is also better suited with its extra metal edges against adversaries like the Celts whose primary hand-to-hand combat weapon is the sword. There are also different types of umbo metallic protections that could be of different forms that we are planning to analyze at a later date when we will attend to rebuild this type of shield’s umbo.



Different phases of the shield cover construction The top photo represent  the wool felt cover application, then stitching  & the impregnation  of the mixture  of bone glue applied hot In order to stay liquid Result after a small sanding  & before painting Motives used for our paintinge

The colors come from an old English book which reproduced among other things frescos from Pompeii today unfortunately erased by time.


On 2 of these frescos there were a total of 3 Republican scutums represented. The Interior was dark blue, and the outer side cream with red branching designs. For our motives I was inspired the lapidary as shown in the photos here after. Be aware that it is impossible in the state of our present knowledge to be affirmative about the shield painting of our chosen period.


There is however enough indication in order to propose an educated and credible proposition. The conjunction of the texts, the lapidary and antique painting, will guide us in our choice. For our reconstruction the colors used are of a basic pigment paints bound with casein which reproduce in our opinion the closest resemblance to ancient painting.



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