Asked in History, Politics & SocietySparta
What did Spartans look like?
August 06, 2010 7:21PM
Spartan warrior would look like very different in different periods of their history.From the unofficial beginning of their rein in 650 BC,through their peak at 500-480BC,to their fall in 440-370's BC.
Why? Because soldiers equipment,arms and armor evolved,as well as the tactics.So combined lightly armored and extremly heavily armored hoplites battle with both spears and javelins and slingshots from the time of Messenian wars,through hard fighting,head to head othismos,from age of Persian wars to more faster lightly armored troops by the time of Peloponnesian wars.
So,as evidences indicate,even from Olympic games, Spartans did become less athletic in later Classical period,they abandoned armor,and adopted lighter way of warfare.
So,iIn times of Persian invasion,which you probably are most interested in,as everyone,Spartan warrior would be quite strong,buff individual,because the push and stab way of fighting would require tremendous strength with little or no running. He also supposed to be strong enough to fight effectively with 8kg shiled,and 15-20kg armor..He would have long naturaly curled,yet often combed hair,if he was older than 30.Natural beard,some of it at least.And would be dark haired mostly,because of the Greek genetics.His skin would be very tan because he would spend most of the time outside.
In war or training,he would wear nothing mostly,or chiton/light tunic that either went to gather at shoulders or ended at the belly button.At the time of Thermopyles it's color would vary in normal natural colors.often decorated by wives(see movie Troy for great tunic representation) It reached only enough to cover genitals. ON that he would wear bronze thorax,or chest armor/curiass..Bronze greaves for shins,or optionally for thighs.Bronze helmet,usually the type called corinthian.With or more often probably without crest.Optionally armor for shoulder and upper arm(right only),armor for lower arm,armor for feet,and genitals.He would carry a wide circular shield,made of wood and leather,rimmed or faced with bronze,ornamented and decorated in bronze as well.
When not in fight Spartan soldiers would wear dark red/crimson cloaks.Cloaks were normal part of soldier non battle uniform.And it was the only part of the Spartan looks that was uniform by military rule(even that is not sure for as early as 500-480BC, it is though sure for later times).
He would carry approx 2m long spear,with 20-25cm spear tip usually in shape simmilar to olive leaf,made of iron.And on the other end the so called lizard killer,that was made out of bronze and had several purposes.
REMEMBER THAT NO UNIFORMITY CAN BE MADE EVEN TODAY WITH STRICT RULES LET ALONE IN 500BC WITH ALMOST NO RULES.SO THE LOOKS INSIDE ONE ARMY WOULD VARY GREATLY, AND EXCEPT COMPULSORY ELEMENTS LIKE SHIELD,HELMET AND GREAVES ALL OTHER WAS LEFT FOR INDIVIDUAL TO CHOOSE.