General

Did Roman Soldiers Wear Red Tunics?

Posted by Konrad on 15 Jun 2017, 20:08

Interesting little movie about the big question. :-D

User avatar
Konrad  Germany
Supporting Member (Gold) Supporting Member (Gold)
 
Posts: 1723
Member since:
19 Oct 2007, 12:59


Posted by Ben90 on 15 Jun 2017, 20:28

Very interesting! Thanks for posting!
User avatar
Ben90  Germany
Golden Brush Winner
 
Posts: 935
Member since:
28 Apr 2011, 23:32

Posted by Emperor on 15 Jun 2017, 20:36

@Konrad- I saw your Roman contribution on Strelets site, very well done...
User avatar
Emperor  
 
Posts: 1013
Member since:
01 Jun 2012, 09:48

Posted by Konrad on 15 Jun 2017, 21:29

Emperor wrote:@Konrad- I saw your Roman contribution on Strelets site, very well done...


Thank you very much!
User avatar
Konrad  Germany
Supporting Member (Gold) Supporting Member (Gold)
 
Posts: 1723
Member since:
19 Oct 2007, 12:59

Posted by Susofrick on 16 Jun 2017, 09:46

Very interesting! Tempted to buy some Romans and start painting! :-D
User avatar
Susofrick  Sweden
Supporting Member (Gold) Supporting Member (Gold)
 
Posts: 5150
Member since:
19 Feb 2008, 12:10

Posted by Mr. Cryns on 16 Jun 2017, 10:22

I want to see this but there is no film, no link :(
Just a white page.
User avatar
Mr. Cryns  Netherlands

Supporting Member (Bronze) Supporting Member (Bronze)
 
Posts: 1103
Member since:
11 Nov 2015, 15:33

Help keep the forum online!
or become a supporting member

Posted by sberry on 16 Jun 2017, 10:48

Interesting video, thank you for posting it!
I was a bit disappointed, because he does not really present much of the evidence that he announced in the intro. Rather, he made a quite lot of considerations based on plausibility (e.g. the price of different dyes). But I agree with the main conclusion: white and red are both plausible choices for legionaries’ tunics.
I also like that he referred to Graham Sumner’s work, because I would agree that Sumner presents the most thorough discussion of the subject available. After reviewing essentially all available evidence, Sumner’s main conclusions may be summarized like this:
- red and white are plausible, as already said. White appears more often in the sources, while red may have been reserved for battle dress.
- one must also bear in mind the different shades of white (perhaps not fifty, but at least more than one): tunics of unbleached wool in various shades of yellowish or grayish off-white may have been worn during normal duty, while the bright white of bleached wool was perhaps reserved for parade dress.
- blue is also attested, for naval forces and possibly also for cavalry.
- the evidence on green or yellow tunics in the Roman military is very thin; green may have been associated with units of high status, as it is attested for such units in Byzantine times.
User avatar
sberry  Germany
 
Posts: 414
Member since:
12 Mar 2010, 20:37

Posted by Mr. Cryns on 16 Jun 2017, 11:18

On my trips in Germany I bought two books by Ritchie Pogorzelski:

Image

Image

I love these books, they are as a real treasure to me.
The colored images of ancient reliefs look like this:

Image

I used these books to paint my Roman Auxilia for the 1st c. AD.
Do you know these books and what is your opinion about the reliability of the use of colors?
User avatar
Mr. Cryns  Netherlands

Supporting Member (Bronze) Supporting Member (Bronze)
 
Posts: 1103
Member since:
11 Nov 2015, 15:33

Posted by Konrad on 16 Jun 2017, 12:40

When I worked on the Roman cohort, I send a mail to the Roman-Germanic Museum in Cologne and asked about colors or sources or templates.
Answer: There are none!
Image


There is a historian association in Cologne, the COHORS I. PRAETORIA.
Image

Image

Image

Image

They also know no sources for colors of the legions.
You will find her page here.
Sorry,only in german.


I personally think the red comes from Hollywood.
Everything else is historically not secured !!
User avatar
Konrad  Germany
Supporting Member (Gold) Supporting Member (Gold)
 
Posts: 1723
Member since:
19 Oct 2007, 12:59

Posted by FredG on 16 Jun 2017, 18:04

Konrad wrote:I personally think the red comes from Hollywood.


Oh that seals it, it must be correct :eh:
User avatar
FredG  United Kingdom
 
Posts: 374
Member since:
09 Dec 2011, 21:47

Posted by Dad's Army on 16 Jun 2017, 18:43

Konrad,

It's all wrong, because the uniforms used to be green...
Found some proof as well :mrgreen:
Image
User avatar
Dad's Army  Netherlands

Moderator Moderator
 
Posts: 4306
Member since:
18 Nov 2007, 22:53

Posted by Mário on 16 Jun 2017, 19:12

Dad's Army is completely right. I have over a dozen books that prove that romans wore green, and blue shields. At least at the time of Ceaser (Julius). That is true all over the Republic, from Britain to Judea, even gaul conscripts wore green (when they were not stoling around in civiian clothes).
That is why my roman army wears green and has blue shields.

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Based on the some source I also painted a portly gaul in blue and white throusers and a little one in red throusers and black vest.
SPQR forever!!
and "ils sont fous ces romains!!"
Mário  Portugal
 
Posts: 231
Member since:
02 Mar 2012, 14:14

Posted by sberry on 17 Jun 2017, 07:30

Dear Mr. Cryns,
I know these books and I think that there is nothing wrong with choosing the colors for your figures based on them. Pogorzelski has really done a fine job in using coloration of the reliefs for making them readable to the modern viewer, highlighting details that are otherwise difficult to see in the original photos. This is a highly innovative approach and I understand your enthusiasm for these books
He frankly says that his choice of colors is essentially guesswork, which is an honest statement. I agree with him that purple can be excluded as the dress color for ordinary soldiers, but I wouldn’t agree with him that white is also completely excluded, because it was reserved for parades, celebrations etc. As said already, there was white and there was white – the carefully bleached tunica alba was not worn in everyday situations, but this does not affect off-white tunics made of unbleached wool or linen.
I am also not totally happy with Pogorzelski’s lavish use of violet (not purple!), in particular when depicting the praetorians. His choice here reflects his close association with the Cohors I. Praetoria – exactly the re-enactor group that Konrad also refers to. Well, the Cohors I. Praetoria has decided to use their particular color scheme (blue/violet tunics; blued steel for the armor) just because they like it that way. I am fine with that, but their blunt statement that we don’t know anything anyway is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

And this brings me to the second part of this post:

Dear Konrad,
the evidence on Roman military clothing is fragmentary and difficult to interpret, but it still exists. The answer from the RGM in Cologne is not really helpful – to it me it seems they just didn’t want to be bothered. The museum in Cologne is, to my knowledge, neither specializing in military history nor in textile archaeology.
You might get much more substantial answers if you ask the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museums in Mannheim. They are the German hub of the international DressID project on Roman clothing that has produced tons of publications. A good overview with respect to the military is found in the book Wearing the Cloak. Dressing the Soldier in Roman Times, which is available at a very reasonable price.
User avatar
sberry  Germany
 
Posts: 414
Member since:
12 Mar 2010, 20:37

Posted by Chariobaude on 17 Jun 2017, 10:53

Well Gentlemen,
i'm bit surprised by your consensus of "lack of sources" on roman military clothing when we have two main ones : mosaic and manuscripts.

I'll deal only with late roma era i know best than the previous ones : on that timeframe we do know that military clothing was very diverse, in its raw material, quality, color etc etc.
Basically the source of military clothing was the local production made by civilians for their own purposes, but part of it was kept by the nearest unit under the regime of the annonae, a tax, once paid with grain, then with money, and with the slow collapse of roman economy with anthything-with-interest-for-the-army, and clothes was without doubt a very important one.
They were even fabricae (factories) specialised in this production, but with more than 300 000 soldiers to supply, surely insufficient.

So obviously a legio based in Egypt (linen ?) and an another one in Britain (wool ?) certainly not weared the same clothes. And i'm pretty sure than even within Egypt the different roman units carryed different clothes, and naturally different colors.

As we well know in our modern world, clothes (and fashion) is a status symbol, showing the importance of the people wearing it. Off course it was the same in the roman army. Officers were recognisable from their very expensive clothes. We know with roman legislation (under diocletian) that three type of officers's tunic costed 1000, 1250 et 1500 drachma.
And we know from papyri that the cost of a simple soldier tunic was... 25 drachma in Cappadocia in 138 (so earlier, and we know that a strong inflation occured, but still..), same price paied in Massada in 81.
But why this huge difference of price : the quality was surely finest, but this is antiquity : there was not big difference between linen, or wools. The price difference comes frome hours of work (hundreds ?) on decoration, dyeing, etc...
Remember that in this era, beautifull clothes was a coveted booty, and the most beautifull clothes were even sended tho the gods during the pagan times...

Back to the sources :
the written sources deals with with withe clothes, but mainly because the all come from egypt. In a payrus, the army ordered "That the articles are made of fine wool, soft, pure, white, spotless, well woven, tight, well hemmed, pleasant, without defects, of a value not less than the price paid in advance for them."
The vergilius romanus, a fifth century manuscript (amybe from Britain, without certainty), show very detailed soldiers, and they are wearing dark clothesImage under their lorica hamata.

then we have many mosaics showing soldiers, and they are wearing very coloured clothes.

i won't post hundreds of pics, just ask google, but here are some examples :
Image
Image
Image
User avatar
Chariobaude  France
 
Posts: 73
Member since:
22 Feb 2016, 10:43

Posted by FredG on 17 Jun 2017, 12:08

Hmmmmmmmm so if the mosaics are to be a reference to soldiers wearing colourful clothing then we must also accept that soldiers didn't wear helmets.
User avatar
FredG  United Kingdom
 
Posts: 374
Member since:
09 Dec 2011, 21:47

Posted by Chariobaude on 17 Jun 2017, 12:23

every day i (unfortunately) see soldiers in the tube patrolling without helmets. Is it because they haven't one ?
The mosaic i choose are from hunting and ambushing scene, where armor and helmets were useless.

Edit : a mosaic from Santa maggiore ;-)
Image
User avatar
Chariobaude  France
 
Posts: 73
Member since:
22 Feb 2016, 10:43

Help keep the forum online!
or become a supporting member

Posted by FredG on 17 Jun 2017, 19:39

Sorry but all a mosaic proves is that someone laid it. The rest is guess work.

Or were all those gods real too?
User avatar
FredG  United Kingdom
 
Posts: 374
Member since:
09 Dec 2011, 21:47

Posted by Konrad on 17 Jun 2017, 20:31

FredG wrote:Sorry but all a mosaic proves is that someone laid it. The rest is guess work.

That is also my opinion.
User avatar
Konrad  Germany
Supporting Member (Gold) Supporting Member (Gold)
 
Posts: 1723
Member since:
19 Oct 2007, 12:59

Posted by Chariobaude on 17 Jun 2017, 21:35

So basically you are telling me than ALL the artists and writers of the fourth and fifth centuries were under LSD -hydromel ?- (and modern scholars who think they are reliable as well), that all the pieces of fabric founded in Vindobona, Carnuntum or Chester are false and nine eleven is a reptilien coup. Okay...
User avatar
Chariobaude  France
 
Posts: 73
Member since:
22 Feb 2016, 10:43

Posted by FredG on 17 Jun 2017, 21:55

I'm saying that mosaics are decoration. I never mentioned fabrics. or artists. You're reading more than I am saying.
User avatar
FredG  United Kingdom
 
Posts: 374
Member since:
09 Dec 2011, 21:47


Return to General