Questions

Lindybeige explains spear usage

Posted by Hobbyinovator on 18 Sep 2022, 08:11

In this video Lindybeige explains how spears were most likely used. He explains the difference between upper arm and under arm use and why under arm is the prefered way.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klOc9C-aPr4
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Under arm: The best way, gives better reach and safety for the user and his comrades. Can also be used for parrying enemy spears.
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Upper arm: This technic was probably not used often, despite most illustrators and sculptors preference for it. It has less reach and becomes easily unbalanced if getting knocked. This the correct way to use it if you intend to throw it though.
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Here you se the underarm spear raised very high.

Based on this info we can take a look at a set who got it right, or more right at least(one can claim that maybe some of the soldiers should hold the hand a bit further down the shaft in order to get longer reach): http://plasticsoldierreview.com/review.aspx?id=2850
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And a look at a set who got it wrong: http://plasticsoldierreview.com/review.aspx?id=2716
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Hobbyinovator  
 
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Posted by Hobbyinovator on 05 Nov 2022, 14:17

Of course there are other opinions as always when it come to reenactment. Matt Easton explains how underarm use can be problematic in dense formations, risk at striking the person behind you. Upper arms thrust has an advantage when trying to reach a person coverring behind a shield and can also be used for threatening to throw the spear which forces the opponent to hide behind the shield and being more catious.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTBfIHb ... uD&index=2
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Posted by steve_pickstock on 05 Nov 2022, 16:50

I watched about three and a half minutes before I switched it off.

I began to loose interest when he said "I think ...", it didn't get any better.

The first problem is that a simple google search - hoplites - and nearly the first result was this:-
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Extant artwork, has it's issues like any original document but this one shows the overarm fingers in position.
This extant sculpture
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Fingers in.
The video does actually say that this is the stronger position, after all the muscles are the same used for throwing, in this case the power generated by the arm goes into a stabbing motion aimed at the enemy warrior or his shield, either to drive them backwards and breaking their line, or depriving them of a shield.

This image appears to show the fingers out on the figure on the left.
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But if you try to hold a spear like this for any length of time, you soon see that the fingers inwards is the better position to use.

I haven't fought with spears as such very much - some, but not a lot. The halberd is my preferred weapon of choice. But I am used to bodies of foot soldiers moving in close formation.
Hoplite formations were close order foot, with the hoplons over-lapping in front of the warriors. Because of this there was no room to use the spear like a lance. It would mean opening gaps in the shield wall for the spears. The whole idea of a shield wall was a solid wall of shields, pressing forwards, with no gaps, all of the warriors protecting each other. In fact the greatest effect of a shield wall, was it's ability to press on a line and shift the enemy by the weight of the warriors.
Holding the spear at the butt end - aside from hindering the guys behind, but it gives all sorts of issues with balance, even the lunging forwards to increase the reach is inherently dangerous because lunging out of front of the line, exposes the warrior's body to being stabbed by the enemy possibly creating a gap that can be exploited. In open fighting holding the shield low can be useful - it allows you to "snooker cue" your opponent - thrusting the spear forwards quickly, but overall, it is my opinion that the over-hand grip, with the fingers in is the better and more authentic position based on pictorial images and experience.
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steve_pickstock  England
 
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20 Jun 2010, 19:56

Posted by Minuteman on 05 Nov 2022, 18:12

I have to say that I have not watched the video, but based on Mr Pickstock's managing only a few minutes I think I will stick with my own belief, which is that Hoplites in close formation would generally use an overarm spear position. Just about every source I have come across shows this pose, including the works of Peter Connolly who was famous for his 'practical research' of much to do with ancient warfare.

I cannot claim to have fought as a re-enactor, either with hoplon, 12 foot spear and a skimpy tunic; nor indeed as an ECW warrior armed with halberd or partizan as Steve has done. However, having done my fair share of heaving stuff around, I am pretty sure that in advancing to combat over several minutes, even super-fit Hoplites would need to keep their close locked shield formation as well as presenting a menacing array of two, maybe three sets of spear tips projecting beyond the front line of shields. The only practicable way of doing this would be to have spears held above the level of the top rim of the shield ie: overarm. Advancing to combat in this way would, indeed, offer the possibility of even resting the shafts of second/third ranks spears on the shoulders of the first rank! Whatever the case, it would be easier physically, bearing also in mind that conserving energy prior to actual clash of arms might prove to provide a critical advantage in the slogging match of hoplite warfare.

I do not deny that an underarm pose would be good in certain combats, notably in a more dispersed melee as might occur if battle lines broke. I suspect that some of the poses in the 'Army of Syracuse' set from Linear A might depict this.

Interestingly, the great Zvezda set of Greek Infantry (Hoplites) has two 'spear formation' poses with overarm spears...and two underarm! http://plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=335
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Minuteman  United Kingdom
 
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06 Mar 2020, 21:38

Posted by Ochoin on 06 Nov 2022, 01:38

I like watching Lindybeige videos. He's interesting & has, I believe, some academic training.
But a Youtube video may not be the best example of peer-group evaluated academic postulating.
In other words, he is often speculative. This particular video is a good example of this.

Is he wrong? I would think so - Steven's weighty primary sources definitely do not support LB. This is a topic that's been around for several decades & a definitive answer is not possible, so you are perfectly entitled to follow the under-arm school of thought.
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Ochoin  Scotland
 
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16 Jan 2010, 04:00

Posted by Xantippos on 06 Nov 2022, 08:09

I have seen some of Lindybeige videos, I think he is a bit on the mad side :) . One of his videos was very good. His video on Medieval tennis is good also, although when he starts rambling interpreting Shakespeare I left it off.

About the hoplites, I would say that they would always fight with the lowered spear, and they even had a leather strap to help sustain it and not get overly tired. That doesn't mean that to stab, they would raise the spears, or that in later times, the spears would be escalated, meaning the first row low, next middle, next higher, etc.

And anyway, all different peoples in antiquity would fight and hold their spears their way, on their own style, so quite almost everything is acceptable.

One of the main problems of the hobby are short spears - nearly always they would be longer. But one can understand the complication of the casting of long, fine spears, hence the modeller must step in and convert whenever necessary. One of the obvious samples of this are the Alexander's Thessalian Cavalry of HaT, which is clearly recorded on history how their spears where same length than the Companions cavalry, and this was about 2 metres or more in length.
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