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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2014 4:54 am    Post subject: hamata? segmentata? why not massed legionary squamata?         Reply with quote

the question is as it sounds,
Recently ive been introduced to the idea, mainly from dan howard i admit, being that the lorica segmentata, was developed as a cheap, mass production munitions plate...

tdue to the extreme expense of making and assembling the wire for maille..

the question i ask is.... why was squamata excluded?
especially since we know that something of an issue with plate armours, was that larger pieces are more difficult to make well and requitre more time, and larger hunks of iron or bronze...

scale armour on the other hand was a well established technology, being used widely in greek armours as point reinforcement of shoulder yokes, and the belly reason,. yet it seemed to be limited to use by centuurians standard bearers and musicians, what would be the big factor holding scale back as a mass produced armour, that favoured segmentata?
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2014 6:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I suspect that for the Romans, scale armor was sort of the worst of both worlds. It's about as labor-intensive as mail, with less flexibility and more need for a decent fit. And a big factor is going to be UPKEEP. Scales will chafe and cut their stitching with any movement, i.e., whenever it's worn. So you're constantly going to have rows of scales (wired together side-by-side) coming loose here and there. Plus the backing will collect sweat and grime, and it can't be readily washed like a separate padded garment could. Finally, if you try to store it, mice will eat the backing or it will get moldy or dry rot.

A segmentata will have a few of those problems with the internal leathers, but it's not as susceptible in general. Many of the brass fittings will bend and break, and over time the leathers can stretch or break or rot or get eaten. But it's a bit easier to put back together than a shirt of scales! And it does need to be reasonably fitted to the wearer.

Make a shirt of mail and it will fit probably half the guys in your army. It's better protection than mail and will never stretch or get eaten by mice. Through it in a barrel of oily straw and in a hundred years you can pull it out and it will still fit half the guys in your army and be ready to use.

Scale armor LOOKS GOOD. It works fine, too, don't get me wrong, but as an added bonus you can tin or silver the scales, either overall or forming a pattern with plain brass ones. That's good bling that would make it very appealing to officers, musicians, and standard bearers. Worth the maintenance problems for them, since they could hand it off to a slave to clean or fix.

Mind you, this is all just "practicality and conjecture"! The Romans never *said* why they prefered one type of armor over another, so we can never be sure what was going on in their heads.

Matthew
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2014 1:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Assuming that the term spangabyrnja (and variants) is referring to scale armour (as opposed to byrnja which is reserved for mail) then the Scandinavians didn't seem to like it much. They seem to think that it was inferior to mail - only worn by those who couldn't afford what they considered to be "proper" armour.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2014 3:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Dan. Could you please share your reference to this "spangabyrnja".
irinn go Brch
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William P




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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2014 3:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

one other thing that came up iun a conversation, was, (now this talk was about the viking era but still applicable to the romans)
the idea that the romans/ middle byzantines, due to the centralised nature of things, and perhaps larger production facilities, that it might have been able to force down the cost of maille? its probably much more likely in ancient rome with its larger population in the city of rome and other larger italian cities
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2014 4:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Romans had a slave economy, so they didn't have to force the labor cost down. Even if free men were doing much of the skilled work, mail-making involves a LOT of unskilled or semi-skilled drudgery. I don't think we can even say that wire-making was all that horrific--it really couldn't have been, considering how much they must have gone through.

And it should be noted that the Romans did not start centralized production of military equipment until the 3rd century AD, a good 500 years after they started using mail.

But yes, there is still a lot to be said for supply, demand, and efficient production.

Matthew
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2014 5:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
Hi Dan. Could you please share your reference to this "spangabyrnja".

There are a few references to spangabyrnja. One of the Icelandic sagas has a guy called Simon collecting compensation and he is given a spangabyrnja as part of the payment. His response is something like "You can offer better than this," and he throws it out onto the ground - starting a big fight. I think it is in "Tale of the Greenlanders". I'll dig it up tonight.

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Last edited by Dan Howard on Fri 24 Oct, 2014 12:07 am; edited 1 time in total
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 12:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is from the Grnlendinga ttur

Smon frndi ssurar sndi sr ekktarsvip og reikai hj mean gripagjaldi var sett. San var fram borin spangabrynja ein forn.

Smon mlti : "Svvirlega er slkt boi fyrir slkan mann sem ssur var" og kastai brynjunni vllinn burt og gekk upp a eim er eir stu brekkunni.

Og er a su eir Grnlendingar spretta eir upp og horfu forbrekkis og mti honum Smoni. Og v nst gekk Kolbeinn upp hj eim er eir horfu allir fr og slst bak eim og fr einn fr snum mnnum. Og var a jafnsnemma a hann komst bak Einari og hj me xi milli hera honum og Einars x kom hfu Smoni og fengu bir banasr.


There is a rough translation here.
http://archive.org/stream/meddelelseromgr5719...m_djvu.txt

When the spangabrynja is brought out Simon says, "It's disgraceful to offer this for such a man as ssur was," and threw the armour onto the field and walked to those who sat in the hill.

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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 4:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Dan.

Sorry if I'm getting a bit off topic. I suppose it's also possible that spangabrynja could also be referring to lamelar armour. We know from Birka that lamelar was at least known in medieval Scandinavia.

irinn go Brch
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 5:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wouldn't go there. There are too many SCAdians willing to grasp at any straw to justify their Viking persona wearing lamellar. But, even if it was lamellar, they apparently didn't think much of it. However some notable characters are said to have worn it. Gregorius Dagsson wore it in a ship battle when it stopped him from being wounded by a boat hook.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 10:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I totally agree Dan. I wouldn't use "spangabrynja" as evidence for either scale or lamelar armour used during the "Viking period" in Scandinavia. It is interesting nonetheless. Anyway sorry for the slight derailment, back to Roman scale armour.
irinn go Brch
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 3:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There aren't many things it could really be. The literal translation would be something like "armour of small plates". Scale armour seems the most likely contender since it was used by other people in Western Europe at the time but it could be lamellar.
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Charles B





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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 9:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is it possible that the specific armor being given in the story was of poor quality, and thus the statement/rejection was about that specific armor and not all armor of the type?

I notice that the translation describes it as an "old armour-plating"; could it mean that it was aged, rusty, or otherwise decrepit in some way?
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 24 Oct, 2014 10:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Charles B wrote:
Is it possible that the specific armor being given in the story was of poor quality, and thus the statement/rejection was about that specific armor and not all armor of the type?

I notice that the translation describes it as an "old armour-plating"; could it mean that it was aged, rusty, or otherwise decrepit in some way?

Yep. It could be that he didn't want it because it was old. But there are other passages that seem to give the impression that spangabyrnja wasn't the preferred type of armour. I'll dig up more references.

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William P




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PostPosted: Sat 25 Oct, 2014 2:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

speaking of scale and lamellar, id like to ask about the likely costs and benefits of lamellar scale and maille, more referring to the middle byzantines as opposed to the imerial romans

the reason i ask is to make a working approximation of what an average byzantine heavy infantryman infantryman could mopst reasonably afford as a bit of an augmentation of his existing state issued gear (in this case the kavadion aka gambeson, a thick quilted felt cap and a reasonably sized turban, and possibly quilted leggings,

my theory is that hes most likely to purchase a simple vest of lamellar armour, just a torso section and some thin shoulder pieces, or a similar piece of scale armour. something reasonably basic enough to not be too costly to buy.

maille might be preferred overall due to its benefit of being somewhat low maintainence, comfoprtable and having better coverage than lamellar and possibly more protectiveness......not to mention you could wear it UNDER your gambeson to protect it from bodkins


but would i be right to assume that even a basic maille shirt might be too out of reach for an infantry soldier?

UNLESS the byzantines, like the romans before, perhaps had the manpower and high enough urbanisation (with all the associated benefits) to make maille a more affordable option than it would be in scandinavia, or the rus territories, in the latter cases, a sparser populations might have made maille a more scarce and valuable armour alternative.

but even then it'd still be costly, too costly by my reckoning,

( i realise of course that the real answer is that the first thing a soldier would get to supplement his gambeson and padded cap/ turban would be a nice metal helmet.. however the purpose behind this thought excercise is based around me wanting to aquire hard armour to augment my gambeson/ kavadion that i use in reenactment combat, and as such i already own a helmet.. )

however, I want what i purchase to be something that would be reasonably within the means of the average infantry pikeman/ menavlion bearer.

i know this is a complex question but if anyone has any opinions id be happy to hear them.
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Ralph Grinly





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PostPosted: Sat 25 Oct, 2014 3:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as what we today call "lorica segmentata" = don't negate the military "bling" factor. I'm sure the Roman military were very well aware of the impression a legion outfitted in these could make. We don't hear of them - but how many battles were 'won' by virtue of the fact that a legion over-awed their opponents in giving in without a battle ever taking place ? There's no military glory in NOT having a battle..so they don't get historically mentioned.
The segmentata, rather than being a 'cheap" armour - was un-neccessarily complicated. All those fragile brass fittings could have easily, and cheaply replaced with ones made from off-cuts of the same metal used for the bulk of the armour, and the fittings would have been much more robust. But no - .polished iron and brass LOOK good together. We've all seen colour pictures or video's of groups like the Ermine Street Guard on parade - imagine an entire LEGION , all on the same ground at the same time. The very sight ( and sound) of so many men, in the same outfits, shining in the sun, must have struck fear and terror into many of their enemies. Any force that looked THAT impressive was something not to be taken lightly - and the Roman General would have been very well aware of that. The roman world's version of todays "Shock and Awe" tactics ?
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William P




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PostPosted: Tue 27 Jan, 2015 3:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

another question i wonder is the PROTECTIVE value of scale as opposed to maille,

how in particular do some armours such as scale and lamellar, made of small plates.repond to various cutting and piercing strikes, compared to maille.

i believe, dan you mentioned that small scales/ lames are more easily compromised/ pushed aside than larger ones..
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 27 Jan, 2015 4:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

IMO all of the different types of body armour provided similar protection. If you want to look at differences then it would be weight, comfort, maintenance, cost, etc.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Tue 27 Jan, 2015 6:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, what Dan said. There are just too many variables to get a coherent answer. Even if you figure that scale and lamellar of a given weight and coverage are slightly better protection than mail (against certain weapons, or whatever), mail still has the advantages of unrestricted movement, ventillation, lower maintenance, etc. Superior protection is simply not the only factor to be considered.

For your Byzantine infantryman, William, I think you'll just have to come up with more data about what the troops were expected to have, or descriptions/artwork of what they typically used, etc. Trying to do cost comparisons without enough solid information doesn't seem like it's going to get you very far. And trying to figure out how those men *thought* about their armor needs with even less information is even more tenuous a task! You can't get solutions with this much guesswork, I'm afraid.

Matthew
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 27 Jan, 2015 2:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
IMO all of the different types of body armour provided similar protection. If you want to look at differences then it would be weight, comfort, maintenance, cost, etc.


Basically, for each type of armour, you make the plates/wire/whatever thick enough so that it keeps out the common threats on the battlefield. Make it weaker than that, and it isn't very useful armour. Make it stronger than that, and it's unnecessarily heavy. So, expect to see different types of armour providing similar protection.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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