Wednesday, April 11, 2012


After examining the images at Nirupars - and keeping in mind that all my conclusions are tentative and must change come further, unforeseen evidence (but that's how it always goes) - here's what I now believe:

Medes and Persians at war at the turn of the 5th century BC wore two belts, at the same time.  One was to cinch the shirt around the waist.  It was probably fabric, and was tied in front with a square knot, leaving the ends hanging.  On top of it was worn the weapons belt, to which the bowcase and sword were attached.  It was probably heavy-grade leather because of the weight it had to support.  It was slightly looser-fitting than the first belt, and fastened in front with a round or flower-shaped button; the inability to precisely adjust the button's fit accounts for its looseness.  The button could have been metal, hardened leather or other suitable material - I think that bronze is a likely material.  Perhaps a screw back concho or even a drawer knob, if it's not too thick and heavy, could make an acceptable substitute.  This belt's ends were much shorter and didn't hang.  The two belts were the same width and could have rounded or pointed ends.

Closeups of several of Darius' guards (fourth and fifth pictures here) show them wearing headdresses which might be taken as shorter versions of the tall hats worn by the king himself and other Persians in court dress.  The short hats were open on top because the tops of the men's heads, with hair, can be seen in the middle.  If these were indeed the same as the tall hats, then those "hats" are more like crowns.  While a flat top is visible on the tall hat if viewed from above, it may not mean anything since it's unavoidable when carving such a garment in shallow relief.  This gallery also provides plenty of further examples of soldiers in court dress wearing twisted headbands instead of hats.

Consider for your reenactment large, plain hoop earrings, which were apparently very common.  Most soldiers also wear loops around their necks; these may be torcs, but if so they appear to be wearing them backward, so I won't venture a conclusion here.

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