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Kieran Wardale




Location: Virginia
Joined: 01 Apr 2013

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PostPosted: Sat 06 Apr, 2013 1:51 pm    Post subject: How good was roman steel?         Reply with quote

I've been told that roman gladius were designed for thrusting which makes sense looking at shape of it. But in contrast steel in Europe, at this time, was very poor and filled with impurities and I'd imagine that the mass production for the massive armies only increased the lack of quality.
A man who speaks out of both sides of his mouth deserves to have it permanently shut.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
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PostPosted: Sat 06 Apr, 2013 2:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On page 16 of The Sword and the Crucible, Alan Williams describes Roman metallurgy as "fairly mediocre" in quality.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Sat 06 Apr, 2013 2:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Every typology of the gladius is designed for both cutting and thrusting. We have texts specifically saying that the sword was used for cutting and thrusting. Practical experimentation has shown the same thing.

The quality of Roman swords varied as much as the quality of medieval swords - from very poor to very good. There are examples of gladiuses with steel edges welded onto softer cores. There are examples of damascened gladiuses. They had smiths who were at least as capable as those who made the La Tene swords, and some of those are exceptional.
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2012

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PostPosted: Sat 06 Apr, 2013 3:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What's the infantry adage, "Remeber you weapon was made by the lowest bidder."
ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Sat 06 Apr, 2013 3:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the Roman army you paid for your own equipment. If you could afford it then you'd have better gear than the "standard issue" stuff that was deducted from your pay.
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Matthew Amt




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

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PostPosted: Sat 06 Apr, 2013 3:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How good does it have to be to make a hole in someone? The worst Roman blades that I've seen analyses of were at least as good as modern mild steel, and most seem to have been better than that. Iron sword blades were hardly a new thing, so I suspect the Romans knew how to make functional weapons. Asymmetrical edges, some slag inclusions, and a crappy finish wouldn't hurt their ability to kill.

Roman equipment is a curious mixture of exquisite workmanship and government-issue crap. I've held original belt parts that made me weep with frustration, because we'll never be able to do them justice with our clunky reproductions. Original armor parts are delicate and small and fine and often decorated, yet often crooked with sloppy rivets. An iron armor plate will never have a straight edge, but will consistently be harder on the outside than on the inside--and so consistent in thickness that we are wondering if they made their sheet steel with rolling mills.

Our reproductions, by comparison, are never quite as nice as the good stuff, and never quite as crappy as the bad stuff! True historical accuracy is a real challenge.

Matthew
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Kieran Wardale




Location: Virginia
Joined: 01 Apr 2013

Posts: 9

PostPosted: Mon 08 Apr, 2013 8:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all for giving me some insight on the quality and variation of roman arms and armor Big Grin
A man who speaks out of both sides of his mouth deserves to have it permanently shut.
Boyd Crowder
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Johan Gemvik




Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Joined: 10 Nov 2009

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PostPosted: Tue 09 Apr, 2013 3:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
How good does it have to be to make a hole in someone? The worst Roman blades that I've seen analyses of were at least as good as modern mild steel, and most seem to have been better than that. Iron sword blades were hardly a new thing, so I suspect the Romans knew how to make functional weapons. Asymmetrical edges, some slag inclusions, and a crappy finish wouldn't hurt their ability to kill.

Roman equipment is a curious mixture of exquisite workmanship and government-issue crap. I've held original belt parts that made me weep with frustration, because we'll never be able to do them justice with our clunky reproductions. Original armor parts are delicate and small and fine and often decorated, yet often crooked with sloppy rivets. An iron armor plate will never have a straight edge, but will consistently be harder on the outside than on the inside--and so consistent in thickness that we are wondering if they made their sheet steel with rolling mills.

Our reproductions, by comparison, are never quite as nice as the good stuff, and never quite as crappy as the bad stuff! True historical accuracy is a real challenge.

Matthew


A most excellent post!
The last part actually applies to far later ages as well.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Lewis Ballard




Location: Houston, TX
Joined: 27 Dec 2009

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PostPosted: Tue 09 Apr, 2013 2:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is fascinating.
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