Dismantling an Aspis - Part 1

One of the most common questions we hear on our events is "What are your shields made of?" Most visitors are satisfied with the answer "They're made of wood", but some are more interested and also want to know how they are made. Thanks to Athineos, we now have the opportunity to take a good look at the internal structure and composition of one of our Aspides.

Athineos uses an Aspis for his Archaic impression. Take a look at a picture showing the shield, which was originally bought from Daniyal Steel Crafts in India. Today, the shield can also be bought in Europe from Armae. The painting and the metal rims were done by Athineos himself. The whole Aspis had a weight of 14.2kg before the conversion.

The original Aspis

The goal of the current project is to completely cover the front of the shield with thin bronze metal. To keep it from getting too heavy, the first step is to remove the existing cover materials. The easiest part were self-made the 2.2kg metal fittings, the removal of the cloth cover proved to be much more difficult. Apparently the Indian workers had no shortage of glue and used so much of it that Athineos had to remove the cloth using a belt sander. After 800g of cloth were gone, the wooden core of the shield was clearly visible.

The "naked" shield

On the picture you can clearly see that the Indians constructed the shield using the ring-method. This is a common method for such shields, where the basic shape of the shield body is approximated by layering of wooden rings or discs. The approximation is then grinded and sanded until it reaches the final desired form. This method of construction is today often used for shields, which are curved in both directions, because it is simpler than constructing the shield from curved wooden planks, which would be the historically correct method of construction. A closer look at the wooden core also reveals the flaws of the ring-method. To achieve the nice bowl-shape, the Indian workers had to use wood-filler at serveral places.


After the front of the shield is now "naked", Athineos will do the same for the back and will then cover the shield using thin leather and bronze metal. When there are new pictures of the shield, we will keep you up to date.