The Shield Page

Sassanid Infantry Shields

Regular followers of my blog will know that I had for some time been unsatisfied with the historical accuracy of the shields supplied with 28 mm Sassanid infantry figures, so I decided to do something about it. I had Paul Hicks sculpt two replacement shields, one large, and one small, following details published in "The Excavations at Dura-Europos, 1928 to 1937. Final Report VII: The Arms and Armour and other Military Equipment" by Simon James. Then I had Matt Hingley of Elhiem Figures cast them up for me. The results can be seen to the right, and in my Sassanid Photo Album. The shields in the photo are posed with figures from A&A Miniaturesand the late lamented Miniature Design Studio. The only other major manufacturer of Sassanids thatI'm aware ofis Gripping Beast. Alas, their shields are moulded on to the figures, so swapping them for mine will require a fair bit of effort, probably more trouble than it's worth.

Archaeology and Modelling. The original shields, as excavated at Dura Europos, are made, very simply, from rawhide and straight sticks of wood about 10-15 mm in diameter. A large sheet of rawhide had slits cut into it in a particular pattern, and the sticks were threaded through the holes. It is assumed that the leather was wet when this was done. As the leather dried, it shrank onto the sticks, creating a light, rigid and strong shield.

I painted mine with Foundry 7B 'Buff Leather' with the leather picked out in 7A. They were then shaded using Army Painter Quick Shade 'Strong Tone' and given a squirt of Testor's Dull Cote to kill the glossiness of the 'dip'.

There's no evidence at all for which way up they were held - point up, or point down, it's entirely up to you! I decided to go for 'point up' as there's evidence of other 'Eastern' armies using shields that way - New Kingdom Egyptian, Assyrians, Mycenaean, and Indians, at least. And I think they look 'cool' that way up too!

I wish to announce that. from now on, 'my' shields will form part of Aventine Miniatures' range. They are developing a range of Sassanid Persians, and asked if they could use my shields. As I understand it, they are intending to supply them with infantry figures (once they're sculpted and in production) as well as being available separately. The first of the shields are now available to buy from them.


Copyright Dr. P.C. Hendry, 2010