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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 12:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Iron was cheap, and we know the ancients could make perfectly decent iron without any slag inclusions that were going to cause trouble. And we know they actually DID make one-piece breastplates and backplates out of iron. (Plus this was for aristocrats, who had no concern about cost.) So I'm just puzzled--people are saying that blooms large enough for a project like that simply did not exist until the 13th century, so the ancients must have put several blooms or billets together to get a large enough piece. Either way, the size of the bloom does not seem (to me!) to have been a limitation in the development of plate armor.

Remember, one-piece medieval helmets were quite common long before breastplates show up, yet there isn't necessarily that much more metal in a conical nasal helmet than in a breastplate.

Lorica segmentata is actually a good illustration of the sophistication of Roman ironwork. The plates are consistently *harder* on the outside than on the inside, and the thickness is so even across the plate that some authorities believe the metal was rolled rather than hammered out. I'm not sure what you mean by "only managed to makes the surface of lorica segmentata clean"--all of their armor and helmets seem to have had a bright finish, and they also liked to tin and silver the surface. If the insides were left forge-blackened, I had thought that was standard procedure for most any armor through history.

Matthew
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Jeffrey Faulk




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 12:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Humanity is in general a pragmatic species. The occasional flight of fancy will pop up here and there, but otherwise we tend to use what works in the situation we find ourselves in, with what materials and technology we have at hand.

The fact of the matter is that while plate armour *could* have been made at various points through history before it became a thing, there simply wasn't a great need for it because of the various styles of fighting and weapons in use. Mail saw far more use than plate ever did by virtue of being a simpler technology that worked in its context. The Roman lorica segmentata is somewhat of an oddity if you think about it, and is more of an example of Roman technology rather than the general trend of armour., especially when you note that the Romans also used mail, which outlasted the segmentata.

Medieval plate armour arose largely due to changes in tactics and armament that made mail less effective as a protective solution-- formed up ranks of infantry armed with bills, halberds, and so forth. The articulation took some time to work out, but the basic technology of shaping large sheets of metal had been around for quite some time. If you think about it, it takes a lot more work to form an one-piece helmet than a breastplate. A round form is a lot harder to work metal into than a simple modified cylinder, which is what a breastplate basically is (details aside).
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not sure mail was necessarily simpler (or cheaper) than plate armor, at least not the mass-produced stuff. And remember that soldiers still valued mail even the sixteenth century with plate armor everywhere and reasonably affordable. Mail alone just wasn't seen as appropriate for men-at-arms or pikers in the front ranks. Mail saw widespread use by other troops and by civilians.
Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
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Hector A.





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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 3:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Plate only has its place on a battlefield or a conflict you know will be fought in advance of time.
Its harder to put on then mail and above all cannot be concealed, you pretty much know if somebody is wearing plate, and if he is you know trouble isn't far, independently if its him starting it or not.
You can put a mail shirt easily on your own, as well as take it off, if worn under clothing you can't tell if somebody is wearing it.
I think this is a big factor to consider, it will have influenced its popularity, wars are occasional things, your everyday life isn't.

We know plate permits higher mobility then mail but is it really more comfortable? Mail is pliable, plat is rigid, any of the rimes touch you in the wrong way and that's that for your comfort. People will bring up the example of kings plate that was well made, but that's just it: " It was well made " of course it was comfortable and measured to the millimeter, now think of those 16th century munition grade plates... "1 size fits 1000's". You comfy? ^^

Conclusion: Plate was the best defense of the day vs many different weapons, even munitions grade plate was better than the best of mail, but mail was reliable even at low quality and more convenient.

I speculated on a few points, but i tried to approach the problem as i would myself if put in the same situation, so if something is strongly off the mark please do correct me.
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 6:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Iron was cheap, and we know the ancients could make perfectly decent iron without any slag inclusions that were going to cause trouble. And we know they actually DID make one-piece breastplates and backplates out of iron. (Plus this was for aristocrats, who had no concern about cost.) So I'm just puzzled--people are saying that blooms large enough for a project like that simply did not exist until the 13th century, so the ancients must have put several blooms or billets together to get a large enough piece. Either way, the size of the bloom does not seem (to me!) to have been a limitation in the development of plate armor.

Remember, one-piece medieval helmets were quite common long before breastplates show up, yet there isn't necessarily that much more metal in a conical nasal helmet than in a breastplate.

Lorica segmentata is actually a good illustration of the sophistication of Roman ironwork. The plates are consistently *harder* on the outside than on the inside, and the thickness is so even across the plate that some authorities believe the metal was rolled rather than hammered out. I'm not sure what you mean by "only managed to makes the surface of lorica segmentata clean"--all of their armor and helmets seem to have had a bright finish, and they also liked to tin and silver the surface. If the insides were left forge-blackened, I had thought that was standard procedure for most any armor through history.

Matthew

Withoutslag, examinations of Roman lorica segmentata indicate that the surface is alot harder and free on slag than the inside. like other people said, mail outlast segmentata by a large degree because for several reasons, wire is easier to make slag free, there is less metal wastage is production process,articulate technology hadn't developed enough to make fighting on foot or horse in full plate armour not extremely difficult and uncomfortable, mail provides more coverage and in places plate can't, saddle and stirup technology hadn't developed enough in western Europe to the most dramatic threat to mail, mail is easier to main and the Roman Segmentata, which had relatively short lifspan in Ancient History had short lifespan and was make of several small plates, not two big ones and judging from the design, being looking alot alot like modern football chest protection, would be very uncomfortable to anything besides stab with.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 7:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
Withoutslag, examinations of Roman lorica segmentata indicate that the surface is alot harder and free on slag than the inside. like other people said, mail outlast segmentata by a large degree because for several reasons, wire is easier to make slag free, there is less metal wastage is production process,articulate technology hadn't developed enough to make fighting on foot or horse in full plate armour not extremely difficult and uncomfortable, mail provides more coverage and in places plate can't, saddle and stirup technology hadn't developed enough in western Europe to the most dramatic threat to mail, mail is easier to main...


Actually, mail most likely outlasted the segmentata because armor production became centralized and armor was state-issued. It was easier to produce mailshirts in a couple standard sizes and store them indefinitely if necessary, rather than have to go with the more tailored segmentata with all its repair issues (you're right about the maintenance!!). Coverage doesn't seem to have been the major issue, since most of the cultures that followed the Roman Empire wore simple shirts of mail, often with legs and lower arms unarmored. But during the Empire there *were* troops such as cataphract cavalry, which used *segmented* limb defenses combined with mail. The one I made is amazingly well articulated, and I'm sure it's not as good as the real thing.

Quote:
...and the Roman Segmentata, which had relatively short lifspan in Ancient History had short lifespan and was make of several small plates, not two big ones and judging from the design, being looking alot alot like modern football chest protection, would be very uncomfortable to anything besides stab with.


Yes, the segmentata is made of numerous small plates, but if it's properly made it allows complete freedom of movement and is reasonably comfortable. It seems to have been pretty successful for 300 years, not long compared to mail but hardly a blip on the radar!

The 2-piece cuirass I mentioned is a Hellenistic muscled cuirass from Prodromi:



I mentioned it as an example of iron armor made of large plates. The segmentata I only mentioned as an example of Roman metallurgy. Sorry for the confusion!


Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
Humanity is in general a pragmatic species.


Not from what I've seen! The more I learn about ancient Greece and Rome, the more alien they seem. To be fair, though, I suspect they simply had a very different idea of what was "pragmatic" to them. In the Bronze Age, tin miners in Cornwall found it pragmatic to scale suicidal cliffs to get to the ore deposits that were the hardest and most dangerous to reach. The lower and easier parts of the paths go right past some very nice visible ore deposits that were completely ignored. And most of the bronze items made from that ore seem to have ended up being chucked in bogs or buried in the ground as offerings to the gods. Hey, it worked for them! Who are we to judge?

Quote:
The fact of the matter is that while plate armour *could* have been made at various points through history before it became a thing, there simply wasn't a great need for it because of the various styles of fighting and weapons in use.


Very much agreed! Mail was a nearly impenetrable miracle metal skin, that could be put on in seconds. We have yet to beat that.

Matthew
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 7:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Philip Dyer wrote:
Withoutslag, examinations of Roman lorica segmentata indicate that the surface is alot harder and free on slag than the inside. like other people said, mail outlast segmentata by a large degree because for several reasons, wire is easier to make slag free, there is less metal wastage is production process,articulate technology hadn't developed enough to make fighting on foot or horse in full plate armour not extremely difficult and uncomfortable, mail provides more coverage and in places plate can't, saddle and stirup technology hadn't developed enough in western Europe to the most dramatic threat to mail, mail is easier to main...


Actually, mail most likely outlasted the segmentata because armor production became centralized and armor was state-issued. It was easier to produce mailshirts in a couple standard sizes and store them indefinitely if necessary, rather than have to go with the more tailored segmentata with all its repair issues (you're right about the maintenance!!). Coverage doesn't seem to have been the major issue, since most of the cultures that followed the Roman Empire wore simple shirts of mail, often with legs and lower arms unarmored. But during the Empire there *were* troops such as cataphract cavalry, which used *segmented* limb defenses combined with mail. The one I made is amazingly well articulated, and I'm sure it's not as good as the real thing.

Quote:
...and the Roman Segmentata, which had relatively short lifspan in Ancient History had short lifespan and was make of several small plates, not two big ones and judging from the design, being looking alot alot like modern football chest protection, would be very uncomfortable to anything besides stab with.


Yes, the segmentata is made of numerous small plates, but if it's properly made it allows complete freedom of movement and is reasonably comfortable. It seems to have been pretty successful for 300 years, not long compared to mail but hardly a blip on the radar!

The 2-piece cuirass I mentioned is a Hellenistic muscled cuirass from Prodromi:



I mentioned it as an example of iron armor made of large plates. The segmentata I only mentioned as an example of Roman metallurgy. Sorry for the confusion!


Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
Humanity is in general a pragmatic species.


Not from what I've seen! The more I learn about ancient Greece and Rome, the more alien they seem. To be fair, though, I suspect they simply had a very different idea of what was "pragmatic" to them. In the Bronze Age, tin miners in Cornwall found it pragmatic to scale suicidal cliffs to get to the ore deposits that were the hardest and most dangerous to reach. The lower and easier parts of the paths go right past some very nice visible ore deposits that were completely ignored. And most of the bronze items made from that ore seem to have ended up being chucked in bogs or buried in the ground as offerings to the gods. Hey, it worked for them! Who are we to judge?

Quote:
The fact of the matter is that while plate armour *could* have been made at various points through history before it became a thing, there simply wasn't a great need for it because of the various styles of fighting and weapons in use.


Very much agreed! Mail was a nearly impenetrable miracle metal skin, that could be put on in seconds. We have yet to beat that.

Matthew

....? I thought state issuing of equipment and opeing military service to all classes, along with heavy taxation to support such a thing, began with the Marian Reforms, which were made during the start of the twilight years of the Roman Republic, long before the development of Lorica Segmentata and that that mail was in widepread use in the Roman army long before this type of body armour was developed. timeline, link? I have a hard time imagining such massive, clindrical steel shoulder guards not being restricting in some way? illustrations, video? and what I was talking about is that armouring places such as the inner elbow, the armpit, back off the inner knne, the crotch, is comparitively easy to do with mail because it is flexible, doing so with plates is pretty darm hard as evidence by the fact that compression plate artication didn't come about until the 16th century AD.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 10:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
....? I thought state issuing of equipment and opeing military service to all classes, along with heavy taxation to support such a thing, began with the Marian Reforms, which were made during the start of the twilight years of the Roman Republic, long before the development of Lorica Segmentata and that that mail was in widepread use in the Roman army long before this type of body armour was developed.

The state didn't take over the fabricas until the Diocletian reforms. This is when segmentata seems to have been phased out.
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T. Kew




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2014 4:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
Medieval plate armour arose largely due to changes in tactics and armament that made mail less effective as a protective solution-- formed up ranks of infantry armed with bills, halberds, and so forth. The articulation took some time to work out, but the basic technology of shaping large sheets of metal had been around for quite some time. If you think about it, it takes a lot more work to form an one-piece helmet than a breastplate. A round form is a lot harder to work metal into than a simple modified cylinder, which is what a breastplate basically is (details aside).


I'm not convinced by the "evolutions in weapons drives evolutions in armour" argument here. You could just as easily say that wider availability of cheap armour made the use of massed infantry without shields (and thus with more potent two-handed weapons). The reasons for the rise of plate are complex, and it's really hard to boil it down to just one factor of simple cause and effect.

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
I'm not sure mail was necessarily simpler (or cheaper) than plate armor, at least not the mass-produced stuff.


When? The price of manufacture for mail and plate can be driven by different factors, so vary independently. The big factor for mail is of course labour costs - if labour is dirt cheap, then mail can be very cheap (we see this now, even, with cheap imported mail). For plate the cost depends heavily on the technology available for making large pieces of metal - if this is cheap and easy to do, then munitions plate becomes cheap. If it's a highly complex task requiring a great deal of metalsmithing knowledge, then it stays expensive.

Hector A. wrote:
Plate only has its place on a battlefield or a conflict you know will be fought in advance of time.
Its harder to put on then mail and above all cannot be concealed, you pretty much know if somebody is wearing plate, and if he is you know trouble isn't far, independently if its him starting it or not.
You can put a mail shirt easily on your own, as well as take it off, if worn under clothing you can't tell if somebody is wearing it.


It certainly is possible to conceal suits of plate armour. There's a lovely relevant quotation, which I don't have to hand, in the partisan article in Spada 2 - perhaps someone can produce a proper citation and quote? It concerns two young gentlemen in Italy who are going to give a display of partisan play, and are wearing concealed suits of plate armour under their civilian clothing for safety reasons.

Secondly, the world was not a lawless place where murder was common. While concealed armour was worn, most references to it make it seem to be in a similar context to how high-value targets nowadays will wear body armour when in public - it's specific people who are concerned about assassination, or people otherwise planning on violence. Day to day even a shirt of mail gets quite tiring and frustrating to wear unless you have a compelling reason for it.
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Bart Jongsma




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2014 5:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Running the risk of rehashing old arguments, I still believe the metallurgical point holds some merit. Yes, some early Hellenistic breastplates and such were made of iron, but it seems they were merely copying the bronze cuirasses into iron without regard for quality. I would hazard a guess that the quality of iron used for the breastplates was quite low, which could be evidenced in the fact that where bronze and iron cuirasses existed contemporaneously, the bronze was much more popular. Also, small plates were used for armormaking throughout the middle ages, such as in helmets, which were often composed of small longitudinal plates riveted together. Only when high quality iron and steel in large quantities became available did it become economically and technologically viable to make large suits of armor out of them.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2014 5:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
....? I thought state issuing of equipment and opeing military service to all classes, along with heavy taxation to support such a thing, began with the Marian Reforms, which were made during the start of the twilight years of the Roman Republic, long before the development of Lorica Segmentata and that that mail was in widepread use in the Roman army long before this type of body armour was developed. timeline, link?


Nope. As Dan said, actual state issue of equipment started in the 3rd century AD. Up until then, strictly speaking the troops are still legally responsible for equipping themselves. However, from about the time of Marius it became more common for the state, the army, or the general to make the equipment available to the men and take the costs out of their pay. So they would pay for it over the course of their enlistment, 16/20/25 years. And to us that can look like "government issue", but the Romans didn't think of it that way. It is also clear from private letters that not all weaponry is coming from "central supply", in any case.

Quote:
I have a hard time imagining such massive, clindrical steel shoulder guards not being restricting in some way? illustrations, video?


The shoulder guards on a segmentata? Well, *mine* have never been restrictive, and I don't think any of the hundreds of Roman reenactors I've seen or talked to in the last 25 years have had many problems with that! The plates are very freely articulated on internal leathers.

http://www.larp.com/legioxx/lorica.html

I only have a tiny old mpg, you can't really see much, but we *are* throwing javelins with ease:

http://www.larp.com/legioxx/pila02.MPG

You should be able to Google up plenty of good video of Roman reenactors in action.

Quote:
and what I was talking about is that armouring places such as the inner elbow, the armpit, back off the inner knne, the crotch, is comparitively easy to do with mail because it is flexible, doing so with plates is pretty darm hard as evidence by the fact that compression plate artication didn't come about until the 16th century AD.


AH, gotcha! Sure, very much agreed on that.

Matthew
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Jeffrey Faulk




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2014 6:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
Humanity is in general a pragmatic species.


Not from what I've seen! The more I learn about ancient Greece and Rome, the more alien they seem. To be fair, though, I suspect they simply had a very different idea of what was "pragmatic" to them. In the Bronze Age, tin miners in Cornwall found it pragmatic to scale suicidal cliffs to get to the ore deposits that were the hardest and most dangerous to reach. The lower and easier parts of the paths go right past some very nice visible ore deposits that were completely ignored. And most of the bronze items made from that ore seem to have ended up being chucked in bogs or buried in the ground as offerings to the gods. Hey, it worked for them! Who are we to judge?


Well, yeah, there's some things that just don't make sense to our modern mindset. Hence the 'in general'. :P

That said, usually these people had some reason for doing what they did, be it religion, tradition, or some circumstance which has changed with time, and we are simply unaware of this reason because it doesn't appear on the historical record. We are therefore left with speculation and extrapolation from the existing data we have.

Which, one could say, is exactly what's happening in this thread Happy
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2014 8:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
Well, yeah, there's some things that just don't make sense to our modern mindset. Hence the 'in general'. :P

That said, usually these people had some reason for doing what they did, be it religion, tradition, or some circumstance which has changed with time, and we are simply unaware of this reason because it doesn't appear on the historical record. We are therefore left with speculation and extrapolation from the existing data we have.

Which, one could say, is exactly what's happening in this thread Happy


Agreed all around! They were "practical" according to their own sets of priorities and requirements.


Bart Jongsma wrote:
Running the risk of rehashing old arguments, I still believe the metallurgical point holds some merit. Yes, some early Hellenistic breastplates and such were made of iron, but it seems they were merely copying the bronze cuirasses into iron without regard for quality. I would hazard a guess that the quality of iron used for the breastplates was quite low, which could be evidenced in the fact that where bronze and iron cuirasses existed contemporaneously, the bronze was much more popular.


That's quite a guess! It doesn't really agree with anything I've seen over the years, though it's true that detailed metallurgical analyses are hard to come by or simply not done. After several centuries of good iron weapons being produced, why should iron armor made for a nobleman or king suddenly be of "quite low" quality? The choice of bronze over iron could have depended largely on the rigid conservatism of military fashion back then. As Jeffrey and I agreed above, folks back then simply had different priorities than we do today.

To add to that, Jon Lendon's book "Soldiers and Ghosts" points out that the ancients looked to the PAST for military progress, not to the future. The fact that the Homeric heroes wore bronze armor was something they seriously considered.

Quote:
Also, small plates were used for armormaking throughout the middle ages, such as in helmets, which were often composed of small longitudinal plates riveted together. Only when high quality iron and steel in large quantities became available did it become economically and technologically viable to make large suits of armor out of them.


Yet Norman helmets were often one piece. On the other hand, those "large suits of armor" were all composed of smaller plates--the largest piece in a suit of Gothic or Milanese plate is smaller than the Prodromi breastplate. (Well, okay, in *area*--it may actually be heavier!) And economics is important for larger-scale production of armor, in other words armor for the masses, because of the logistics and infrastructure needed to support the industry. That all went hand-in-hand with the development of armor coverage and the social organization to support the infrastructure.

Strict metallurgical capability is dropping farther down the list, I'd say. It's not like skilled smiths sat around for centuries saying "Gee, I can't make a good piece of iron bigger than a soup spoon, guess we better stick to mail for armor!"

Matthew
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Jeffrey Faulk




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2014 9:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:


Strict metallurgical capability is dropping farther down the list, I'd say. It's not like skilled smiths sat around for centuries saying "Gee, I can't make a good piece of iron bigger than a soup spoon, guess we better stick to mail for armor!"

Matthew


Indeed-- as I pointed out earlier, if you can form a helmet (a fairly deep hemispherical or oblong shape), you have more than enough ability to shape armour to cover the whole body. The most complex part is forming it to cover the torso and figuring out the articulations; the limbs are simple cylinders with a variety of tapers or molded portions. The Greeks made greaves shaped exactly like the calf, that fitted without needing straps-- simply bent open and closed around the leg.

Additionally, cooking pots weren't cast-- they were forged for a long time. In some cases, we are talking cauldrons that could hold five, ten gallons at a time. That's a lot of shaped metal right there. Granted I'm not sure they were all one piece, some may have been riveted or brazed together, but nonetheless.

It's quite obvious that capabilities in metal-working were not the barrier to producing plate that some may think they were. The most likely barrier is simple utility. Mail was the easy solution that fit the context. Plate, while useful, was not strictly necessary for centuries, as mail worked well enough.
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2014 11:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
Matthew Amt wrote:


Strict metallurgical capability is dropping farther down the list, I'd say. It's not like skilled smiths sat around for centuries saying "Gee, I can't make a good piece of iron bigger than a soup spoon, guess we better stick to mail for armor!"

Matthew


Indeed-- as I pointed out earlier, if you can form a helmet (a fairly deep hemispherical or oblong shape), you have more than enough ability to shape armour to cover the whole body. The most complex part is forming it to cover the torso and figuring out the articulations; the limbs are simple cylinders with a variety of tapers or molded portions. The Greeks made greaves shaped exactly like the calf, that fitted without needing straps-- simply bent open and closed around the leg.

Additionally, cooking pots weren't cast-- they were forged for a long time. In some cases, we are talking cauldrons that could hold five, ten gallons at a time. That's a lot of shaped metal right there. Granted I'm not sure they were all one piece, some may have been riveted or brazed together, but nonetheless.

It's quite obvious that capabilities in metal-working were not the barrier to producing plate that some may think they were. The most likely barrier is simple utility. Mail was the easy solution that fit the context. Plate, while useful, was not strictly necessary for centuries, as mail worked well enough.

Tell than to any smith. Also comparing cooking pots to armor is hardly comparable because cooking pots aren't subjected to the same forces to wear on out (being hit with various weapons) battle field armor and it is not a big a deal if it breaks. Also, when talking about greaves, you are referring to to different metals, bronze has fairly low melting point and work hardens very well, so a cast can be made of persons legs and the bronze poured in, cooled and then it can be cleaned and hammered to appropriate hardness. iron and steel has to be forged and don't take to work hardening as well, so you have to shape do a persons leg, much more labor instinctive and much less suited for mass production process. Also, about forming metals mean to have more than enough skill to shape to the entire body, I have few friends than make armor that would say otherwise. Also, one find out of a iron breastplate over hundreds of bronze ones doesn't prove much, if iron breastplates were not outlier, we would find iron breastplates it varying states of repair, from emasculate to horrifying bad condition, like well find of mail, scale, lammellar, etc. Alos, if the Ancient Greek were as serious of emulating the Homeric heros I've you've suggested, we would have seen them fighting the Persians on chariots and trying the duel the king, just becuase culture admries their forefathers doesn't mean they looked for them for army emulation. Europeans had the same situation with Machavilli suggesting the revival of roman legionare style unit to guard pikemen, yet it is know that is was oddity not widespread adopted.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2014 12:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
Tell than to any smith. Also comparing cooking pots to armor is hardly comparable because cooking pots aren't subjected to the same forces to wear on out (being hit with various weapons) battle field armor and it is not a big a deal if it breaks.

Historical armour wasn't made with the weekend recreationist in mind. Historical armour was made with need for regular maintenance and with the expectation that it would need repair after every battle.

Quote:
Also, when talking about greaves, you are referring to to different metals, bronze has fairly low melting point and work hardens very well, so a cast can be made of persons legs and the bronze poured in, cooled and then it can be cleaned and hammered to appropriate hardness.

That's not how bronze greaves were made. They were forged from flat plate just like iron ones.

Quote:
iron and steel has to be forged and don't take to work hardening as well, so you have to shape do a persons leg, much more labor instinctive and much less suited for mass production process.

There was no such thing as "msss production" during the time in question. Everything was made by hand. The only difference is that in the large manufacturing centres there were a lot more people doing it.

Quote:
Also, about forming metals mean to have more than enough skill to shape to the entire body, I have few friends than make armor that would say otherwise.

If you can make a single piece helmet then you can easily make an iron cuirass.

Quote:
Also, one find out of a iron breastplate over hundreds of bronze ones doesn't prove much, if iron breastplates were not outlier, we would find iron breastplates it varying states of repair, from emasculate to horrifying bad condition, like well find of mail, scale, lammellar, etc.

Yes they seem to be outliers but we have no idea why. Your suggestion is just as speculative as everyone else's.

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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2014 12:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
Tell than to any smith. Also comparing cooking pots to armor is hardly comparable because cooking pots aren't subjected to the same forces to wear on out (being hit with various weapons) battle field armor and it is not a big a deal if it breaks.


Well, I don't think that cookpots and armor were necessarily made by the same smiths--it's possible that they were in ancient times but I suspect medieval guilds would have made them separate crafts. However, there are certainly comparisons to be made. There are surviving iron cauldrons that are riveted from several pieces, with *watertight seams*. That, to me, implies remarkable skill! Note that any seams on a helmet do *not* have to be watertight! I frankly do not know if cookpots were thicker or thinner than helmets and armor or about the same, but you have to admit that many of the same metalworking skills would be required for both. Ask any smith.

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Also, when talking about greaves, you are referring to to different metals, bronze has fairly low melting point and work hardens very well, so a cast can be made of persons legs and the bronze poured in, cooled and then it can be cleaned and hammered to appropriate hardness. iron and steel has to be forged and don't take to work hardening as well, so you have to shape do a persons leg, much more labor instinctive and much less suited for mass production process.


Whoa, hang on! Bronze greaves can NOT be cast in that way. The metal is way too thin. They were hammered to shape, which requires repeated annealings since, as you say, bronze work-hardens easily (and can't be worked hot, only cold). So easily, in fact, that a high-tin bronze is quite likely to crack if hammered too much. And it is very difficult to hammer in the first place, though a low-tin bronze is more forgiving. Iron and steel are actually forged at a slightly lower temperature than that required to cast bronze, if I remember correctly, and iron can be worked hot and is very malleable. This makes it *easier* to form into greaves and other complex shapes, not harder. Though once you get down to the thinness of most armor, much of the work is going to be done cold with annealings as needed, to avoid loss of material through scaling. Iron can also be forge-welded, allowing you to repair cracks or splice pieces together. A crack in a bronze piece means it's ruined, unless you want to use a riveted patch. This plus the fact that iron is generally far more available than bronze all make iron a better material for large-scale production of armor. Mind you, that may not matter at all for armor being produced solely for the wealthy!

Quote:
Also, one find out of a iron breastplate over hundreds of bronze ones doesn't prove much, if iron breastplates were not outlier, we would find iron breastplates it varying states of repair, from emasculate to horrifying bad condition, like well find of mail, scale, lammellar, etc.


Not sure what you mean. Iron armor was definitely the exception during the Greek era, even though it would appear to be the more sensible material to us. The Romans obviously used tons of iron plate armor (made of smaller segments!) and mail and helmets, though they also kept producing plenty of copper alloy helmets right through the 3rd century AD at least. Unfortunately we just can't say much about what they used for *aristocratic* armor during the Empire, since almost none of it survives.

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Alos, if the Ancient Greek were as serious of emulating the Homeric heros I've you've suggested, we would have seen them fighting the Persians on chariots and trying the duel the king, just becuase culture admries their forefathers doesn't mean they looked for them for army emulation.


Perhaps instead of ridiculing the idea, you could read Lendon's book. It's very readable and enjoyable, and a real eye-opener. He backs his ideas up with plenty of solid evidence. If nothing else, it's a very clear reminder of the dangers of assuming that people in ancient times thought the way we do.

Matthew
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Bart Jongsma




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2014 1:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am wondering about one other thing though: do we know anything about Roman preferences between lorica segmentata and lorica hamata? Could there be some kind of parallel development that we can use for reference here?
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Jeffrey Faulk




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2014 2:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To raise a quick point, as I don't have a whole lot of time--

I certainly wasn't trying to allude that armour-smiths also made cooking pots. My point was that the techniques are very similar, and very large pots have been found, which indicates that they knew perfectly well how to shape large pieces of metal.

A segmented helmet is one thing and they're common enough, but one-piece helmets are quite another, and they're much better examples of the skill that is required of metal-working. Shaping a helmet that covers the head from one piece of steel requires a lot of three-dimensional work-- you are basically slowly stretching the metal outward and down (or up, as the case may be, if you're working it upside-down as is required sometimes) in a controlled manner.

Compared to this, a breastplate, which is basically just a sheet of metal shaped appropriately and turned up at the edges, is much simpler.

For a physical demonstration, try finding an appropriately large piece of cardboard-- two, actually. Shape one into a rough breastplate and the other into a helmet. Which one will be easier?

(Hint-- it's not the one that goes on the head)
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2014 8:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bart Jongsma wrote:
I am wondering about one other thing though: do we know anything about Roman preferences between lorica segmentata and lorica hamata? Could there be some kind of parallel development that we can use for reference here?


Hoo, it's a tough question, and not a new one! Mail was around for about 300 years before the segmentata appeared in the late first century BC, and mail was still widely used all through the 3 centuries of the segmentata's use. And of course it was THE favorite form of armor after that. There are those who claim that segmentata was just some oddball thing that is over-represented, or that it was "engineer armor" worn only for sieges, etc. I'd have to say that's bunk. I don't think it was worn by *all* legionaries, by any means, but artwork like Trajan's Column show that legionaries in segmentata was a ROMAN stereotype, and there must have been a reason for that.

It's significant to note that we do NOT have evidence for officers of any sort wearing segmentata. Centurions, standard bearers, and musicians are all depicted in mail or scale armor. Tribunes and legates of course wear the Hellenistic-style muscled cuirass. Oddly, we don't see auxiliary infantry or cavalry wearing segmentata, either, though we do find pieces of it in forts that were garrisoned by auxiliaries. (Though we can't rule out the presence of legionary detachments--but beware of circular arguments!)

But aside from that, we have no real indication of why some troops might have worn segmentata and others wore mail. It could very well have depended much on personal preference--even among reenactors, many will strongly prefer one over the other. I love my segmentata, don't get me wrong, and I love stabbing it with my pugio to show the kids that "armor works", but I suspect that if I had to be armored on almost a daily basis, I might opt for the mail. It's just too easy to wear and maintain, by comparison.

Not sure if that answers your question? Though I do prefer to question answers, obviously, ha!

Matthew
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