Thursday, June 28, 2012

Update 2: Spears

Antonis Aliades at RAT has directed me to Armes Antiques, which has a couple of spearheads which look like they would suit our period.  Item SP154 looks good if a bit big, and SP163 is especially eye-catching, being similar to the kite shape commonly shown at Persepolis.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Update: Axes

While you're at Hun Archery, you might also want to check out one of their range of bronze Scythian axes.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Update 3: Arrows

Arminius at Hippeis last week pointed out the Scythian arrowheads from Hun Archery.  These are some of the lightest repro arrowheads I've seen.  They look like blued steel.  I can't vouch for the quality but at 69 euros for 20 pieces they may be a good inexpensive option for European reenactors.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tentative charter/rulebook for XMFM

I.  Mission and ideals
Xerxes' Million Fighting Men seeks to present, for the education and entertainment of the public, an authentic image of the first Persian empire, and in particular those of its peoples who participated in the Greek phase of the Graeco-Persian wars, 490-479 BC.

XMFM aims first and foremost to communicate the truth as near as it can be discerned.  Although our material culture and interactions with each other will showcase a certain image, when speaking directly to the public, we should not be afraid to admit to uncertainties, theories and conjectures about history and compromises in our impression.  If new evidence demonstrates that part of our impression is incorrect, that part must change; when limits on time or money prevents an update, the part should be excised; when it cannot be excised, the compromise should be acknowledged when speaking to the public.

Conscious misleading of others is strictly forbidden.  Political, religious, ethnic or other biases should be recognized and put aside as best as you are able.

II.  Materials
Clothing and equipment should be the most authentic that you are able to obtain.  For all "bronze," brass and other copper alloys with a similar look may be substituted.  For all "iron," any iron alloy suitable to the particular function may be used.  Plating may be used where historically documented.  For "sinew," artificial sinew or dental floss may be substituted.  For woods, any that will hold up under use is acceptable unless it has a distinct inappropriate look.  For fabric and leather, see the Denim and leather article.

III.  Personal appearance
XMFM aims to keep rules on personal appearance minimal and keep the doors open as wide as possible for new members.  Anything about your appearance that can easily be changed to appear less anachronistic should be.

Anyone of any race or ethnicity may reenact as any ethnicity documented as having been personally involved in events in the Persian empire or its enemies, allies, subjects or trading partners.  However, XMFM encourages people to choose a nation that reasonably matches with their own appearance.

Hair (including on the face and anywhere else visible to the public) may be any length or absent, but must be free of obvious styling or dyes that you can't document in period.

During public presentation, no clearly modern clothing, jewelry or accessories may be worn.  This includes watches and glasses; keep them in your pocket.  Wear contact lenses if you can.

IV.  Safety
Scrupulous attention must be paid to preventing injury during handling and demonstration of sharp weapons and stage combat.  Materials on display must be attended by at least one member.  The public may only handle materials under close supervision.

V.  Fiscal policy
If you have extra kit, please be willing to lend it to others.  However, ultimately it is the responsibility of each member to provide sufficient kit for his or her own impression.

Collectively-used expenses (car rental, cab fare, etc.) will be distributed among those using them.

VI.  Government
Form of government will be determined once four members have been recruited.

Next up:  ...
...  Actually, that's it.  I don't have any more articles scheduled.  I'll post more news as it develops, but for the moment I've covered everything I can.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Update 2: Arrows

John Conyard alerted me to bronze arrowhead repros from UK-based archery supplier A Piece of History. They're a distinctly Scythian type with separate sockets and a long barb behind the cutting blades.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Delma MA-3's are here and uh

The Delma MA-3 Penetrator is the closest that any modern arrowhead I've ever seen comes to replicating the shape of Classical ones, while being much cheaper (if shipping in North America) than a bronze replica.  Unfortunately, it's also big (not to mention wicked sharp) - something I didn't appreciate until examining them in person.  In fact, being nearly the same shape and just over half again longer than the period-correct equivalent from Manning Imperial seems (to my eyes) to give it several times the surface area.  I won't bother doing the math on whether that's technically true, but it's a moot point.

I had planned on trimming down the backs of the blades with a pair of tin snips, but the folded sheet-metal construction is a lot sturdier than it looks.  If you're stronger than I am, you might manage it, but I imagine doing so would warp the blades, not to mention put the socket at risk of splitting into three parts.  And frankly, taking power tools to them sounds like more trouble than they're worth.

I won't write these off just yet, but I will do so if something better comes along.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Travel and transport

Moving a large amount of kit can be one of the more frustrating parts of reenacting, especially when traveling overseas.  You need to pay or find ways around high transport costs, while packaging everything securely.

Airline regulations are varied, but most charge regular or oversized baggage fees according to the number of linear or dimensional inches (length plus width plus depth).  Expect to pay surcharges in the area of $100 for large shields and long spears.  A gorytos with a modicum of flexibility can be crammed into your suitcase.  US Airways requires items to be packaged in hard-sided cases (I've found that a rifle case works best for a recurved bow and arrows, and can hold sidearms as well; US Air doesn't consider this oversized).  American Airlines doesn't have such a requirement, but does set an upper limit of 75 inches in length which should be just barely enough for a 6-foot spear.  United Airlines requires documentation for weapons, but does have a separate cargo service and special hard-sided boxes in very large sizes for an extra charge.

Shelley Powers of Hoplologia informs me that rather than checking their spears and shields as airline baggage, the Plataians got theirs to Marathon 2011 by commercial shippers, which is viable for large groups.  She (and Ashley Holt of the Hoplites Association) also recommended plastic pipes for spears.  Shields were packed in bicycle boxes.

Since your kit will take up so much room, travel as lightly as possible otherwise.  Bring only as many changes of clothes as you need, and travel-sized toiletries (don't forget mosquito repellent and sunblock).  Wear a single jacket with plenty of pockets, and pick one pair of good walking shoes, with buckles or velcro so you can take them off quickly in the security check.

Your schedule will be busy and unpredictable, so eat well at breakfast and lunch.  If you're not camping out, or not camping out for the entire event, I can personally recommend the Thomas Beach Hotel in Nea Makri, which is a short drive from Schinias Beach where Marathon 2011 was held.

Next up:  A proposed rulebook for XMFM the reenactment group.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Putting it all together

This is a recap of required items for the male Pesian or Mede costume.  You'll need all the following items:

●  Sleeved tunic.
●  Close-fitted trousers, preferably footed.
●  Fabric belt long enough to be tied in a square knot with substantial (at least five-inch/13cm) hanging ends, in wool or linen if you can find it.  Cotton is acceptable if you can't find anything else.
●  Ankle boots.
●  Tiara or domed cap.  Tiara may be either wool felt or linen, must be soft enough that the peak will lay to one side.
●  Drawstring bag(s).
●  Leather or leather-covered water bottle.

Additionally, you'll need at least one of the following stands-of-arms:

●  Scythian or Assyrian bow.
●  At least 12 safety arrows and at least 12 sharp arrows spined for your bow, with natural feather fletchings.  Shafts should be wood or reed on sharp arrows and fiberglass tape-wrapped wood on safety ones.  I'll list approved sources for sharp and blunt points as I can find them out (for sharps, Neil Burridge and Manning Imperial are ideal if you can afford them), and the flu-flu versus untrimmed fletching issue when it's settled at Amphictyonia.
●  Gorytos with cover, that can hold the bow and 12 arrows, or shoulder quiver that can hold 12 arrows.
●  Leather weapon belt with single round iron/steel or bronze/brass button with optional flower design.

●  Spear.  A hame ball would appear to be the most accurate-looking counterweight but you can use any brass or bronze finial of appropriate size and shape.
●  Spear as above but with safety head.
●  Crescent or preferably rectangular shield.

●  Two or more javelins.
●  Crescent shield.

You are additionally encouraged to bring as much as possible of the following:
●  Akinakes with scabbard.
●  Kopis with scabbard.
●  Akinakes or kopis with steel safety blade, and own scabbard if it won't fit into the sharp one's.
●  Sagaris.
●  Weapons belt to hold the above (if you're not already bringing one).
●  Scale shirt.
●  Tube-and-yoke corslet.
●  Kandys.
●  Extra arrow components for field repair or replacement, wooden dowels for shields, wrenches or other tools for tightening loose tangs on swords, epoxy or arrow glue for loose components on weapons, and leather laces for a variety of applications.
●  Extra clothing and equipment, including for Greek or other c. 500 BC East Mediterranean impression.

Next up:  Getting it all there.