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Kevin S.





Joined: 25 Aug 2009

Posts: 54

PostPosted: Thu 15 Oct, 2009 9:11 pm    Post subject: Quality of Metallurgy in Armors         Reply with quote

Hi, I'm just curious about some things.

The last non-biased people (not just one person) that I have talked to stated that nobody knows the exact qualities of ancient and medieval armors. I agree with these people, but it could be that things are changing; perhaps there have been new discoveries that could help us know the qualities of these armors.

I just want to know if there are any types of metallurgical analysis and measurement (Vicker Hardness, etc.) of the armors. The type of armors that I am interested in are the:

1. Roman lorica segmentata

2. maille and plate armor of the Early Middle Ages.

3. maille and plate armor High Middle Ages.

Thank you
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Craig Johnson
Industry Professional



Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2003
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Reading list: 20 books

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PostPosted: Thu 15 Oct, 2009 9:27 pm    Post subject: Try These books         Reply with quote

The Knight and the Blast Furnace: A History of the Metallurgy of Armour in the Middle Ages & the Early Modern Period (History of Warfare, 12) (Hardcover)
by Alan Williams

The Royal Armoury at Greenwich 1515-1649: a History of Its Technology
Williams, Alan & De Rueck, Anthony

Medieval Armour From Rhodes, The, by Walter J. Karcheski Jr., Thom Richardson, Walter Karcheski, Paula Turner

These will have the best info. There are others but they will not have as much as these. It maybe best to try and find them in a large library as they are expensive to acquire.

Best
Craig


Last edited by Craig Johnson on Thu 15 Oct, 2009 9:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
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Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Thu 15 Oct, 2009 9:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Quality of Metallurgy in Armors         Reply with quote

Kevin Sanguanlosit wrote:


I just want to know if there are any types of metallurgical analysis and measurement (Vicker Hardness, etc.) of the armors. The type of armors that I am interested in are the:

1. Roman lorica segmentata

2. maille and plate armor of the Early Middle Ages.

3. maille and plate armor High Middle Ages.


1. Not much of Roman armour has been found. It was argued based upon precise matches in dimensions that some Vendel helm finds utilized lorica segments to construct the nasal and brow pieces, as well as some other fragments of migration era helms. Some of these pieces were sectioned by Alan Williams "The Knight and the Blast Furnace" and found to be low carbon iron.

2. Maille up through around 9th century has been frequently judged to have been of wrought iron wire. Quite a bit of sectioning and metallographic analysis was done by Vegard Vike ("Ring Weave, metallographical analysis of ring mail material"), although I don't remember hardness being discussed, as I doubt there was that much significant about it. Plate as in "harness" in "early Middle Ages" may be confusing to many. I would say it was not a typical item before many historians would consider the period to be late Medieval or something between Medieval and Renaissance.

3. Maille in 16th century era (some rings found even in Southern United States from remnants of Spanish explorers) seems to have been mild carbon steel wire.. Extensive sectioning of small samples from plate (some 600 different pieces) was documented in the Knight and the Blast Furnace. Steel of this era is still not considered homogeneous. Hence we can not know everything about all of it precisely from examining a small fragment of each specimen. We can say it was early more hardenable steel as opposed to softer iron though.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Kevin S.





Joined: 25 Aug 2009

Posts: 54

PostPosted: Fri 16 Oct, 2009 11:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for your answers, guys. The Knight and the Blast Furnace looks like a good book; I looked at the online version of it, and it already appears to have lots of good info. I will borrow it from the library later.

I have a question that is not really related to armor.

What is the quality of the Roman gladius? I know that the qualities of the different gladius varied greatly, but do you guys have any sources that included a "list" or "chart" with all of these qualities?
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,306

PostPosted: Sat 17 Oct, 2009 10:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ave!

Many fragments of lorica segmentata have been found all over the empire, including a few substantial sections or whole plates. I honestly don't know how many have been tested, but there certainly has been "official" interest in the metallurgy. I also don't have any solid data on hardness tests, though I believe some have been published. But I do know that there is a very consistent trend with lorica segmentata plates: they are harder on the outside than the inside. This implies some deliberate and sophisticated metalwork!

On the other hand, there is also surprisingly consistent evidence for the overall quality of fit and finish on Roman armor: BAD. Crooked edges, lopsided helmets, cranked-out fittings that can be torn by hand, sloppy rivets, etc. So they cared to give the men decently functional armor, but it was all banged out in a hurry with no attempt at perfection. Mind you, most of the flaws are only visible on close inspection, so buff up the finished piece of government-issue junk and it will look just fine to the barbarians, and work fine as well! It's a dichotomy which never fails to fascinate me.

Roman swords varied DRAMATICALLY in quality. Some were homogenous "mild steel", some had piled iron cores with hardened steel edges, some were hard-and-crunchy on the outside while soft-and-chewy on the inside. At least one seems to be soft on the OUTside and hard on the INside! (Don't know if that could have been the result of a fire, or what.) Again, they certainly knew some very sophisticated techniques, and sometimes used them very deliberately, but they also realized that a sharp piece of scrap metal was lethal enough in most circumstances. Buff it up and issue it!

The one book off the top of my head that should have more detailed data is David Sim's "Iron for the Eagles", ISBN 0752419005. The chapter on technology and production in Bishop and Coulston's "Roman Military Equipment" was a real eye-opener for me (1842171704), with schematic drawings of sword cross-sections. Probably a few articles in Journal of Roman Military Equipment Studies have good information, too. Best place to find out is the Roman Army Talk board,

http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/

That what you're looking for? Vale,

Matthew
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