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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > How come plate armor's peak take so long to be reached? Reply to topic
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 502

PostPosted: Thu 20 Nov, 2014 7:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
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

Trajan column was column to commemorate the Roman legion feating the Dacians, I'm not saying it was a rare thing, we have t o many exacuations of segmentata to say tha. But you have to remember that Trajan's was first and formost a political proganda piece to show the might of the Emperor and his army to the people of Rome and it's enemies. I'm not saying that segmentata was rare but I wouldn't be surprised if there was alot less segmentata in a Roman legion than depicted with the expection of the Dacians and the Parthians, most of Romes enemies didn't have weapons that mail couldn't stand up to and the longetivy, flexibility (escpecially for calvary units) sizing ease and maintense ease makes much easier for large Armytraveling such vast distances in a variety of weather and on foot.
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 502

PostPosted: Thu 20 Nov, 2014 7:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
Matthew Amt wrote:
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

Trajan column was column to commemorate the Roman legion feating the Dacians, I'm not saying it was a rare thing, we have t o many exacuations of segmentata to say tha. But you have to remember that Trajan's was first and formost a political proganda piece to show the might of the Emperor and his army to the people of Rome and it's enemies. I'm not saying that segmentata was rare but I wouldn't be surprised if there was alot less segmentata in a Roman legion than depicted with the expectation of the Dacians and the Parthians, most of Romes enemies didn't have weapons that mail couldn't stand up to and the longetivy, relative increase inflexibility (especially for calvary units) sizing ease and maintense ease makes much easier for large Army traveling such vast distances in a variety of weather and on foot.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,370

PostPosted: Thu 20 Nov, 2014 12:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
Trajan column was column to commemorate the Roman legion feating the Dacians, I'm not saying it was a rare thing, we have t o many exacuations of segmentata to say tha. But you have to remember that Trajan's was first and formost a political proganda piece to show the might of the Emperor and his army to the people of Rome and it's enemies.

Matt knows this better than the rest of us. His point is that this armour must have been popular enough to have become the archtypical armour of popular custom or it would not have been selected as the representative costume of the legionary on a propaganda piece. The same is true today. If you want to depict a Roman legionary to a layman then you put him in a segmentata, regardless of whether this was what was most commonly worn in reality or not.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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