Full Version: Roman Metal Armour-Polished or Dull?
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Hi All

I have wondered was Roman Metal armour as the Lorica Segementata (sp?) polished as I see with the re enactment or was the metal left a dull natural colour-A very basic or beginner questionSmile

Any sources on this?
We prefer tinned.
It depends what you mean by polished; mirror like or a more satin finish. Mirror like s almsot impossible to acheive without the use of modern equipment (polishing wheels etc) so we tend to go for the satin finish. Realistacally, you can actually keep on top of this type of finish.

As for sources; try Josephus, he writes about sunlight glinting off armour (paraphrased). Not definitive because sunlight will glint of most clean metal, but from a writers point of view it paints a picture of polished armour.
Of course, medieval sources say the exact same thing about mail clad knights, it's something of a literary convention. That said, I imagine that it was preferable to have attractive or fiercesome looking arms and armour whenever possible.

Matthew James Stanham
In the Leeds armoury, the armour varies from darkened metal to shiney, clean metal.
If you look on one sarcophagus, it almost looks like they have made an attempt to portray the brass/bronze edged segmentata....could be my wishful thinking :roll:
Quote:In the Leeds armoury, the armour varies from darkened metal to shiney, clean metal.
Be careful, as those Victorians made a great job of cleaning armour exhibits and getting rid of the original painted surfaces forever. :roll: :evil:
Yes, I was going to say some looked slightly wire brushed too! :oops:
Slightly off topic, but a canadian armourer made a replica of a suit of armour for some rich lord a year or two ago, I will bring the article to AGM, but it is a masterpiece......anyway, back to topic.
I suspect the polish would fairly well equal the ability of the finest grit of sand that was available the last time the armor was polished. But that's not backed by historical documentation. Tinning, as Hibernicus points out, would be shinier than iron, and easier to keep shiny.
Ok thanks for replies from all could I know more about Tinning? First I have heard of this process.
have tinned remains of Lorica plates ever been found??????

not to my knowledge .....

any ideas??

Some say yes. I don't know the provenance.
I had understood that at least a couple lorica plates had been found with traces of tinning, but I don't recall the findspot, sorry.

Sand is not the only abrasive available, nor the finest. Ashes from most any wood fire were used in the 18th century for cleaning musket barrels and polishing brasswork. It seems to have been reasonably easy to get brass and bronze to practically a mirror polish and keeping them that way. But I generally vote for a nice satin finish for the iron and steel.

A few years ago my Revolutionary War unit was waiting for a parade to begin, and my corporal chided me on the greenish-brown color of my brass regimental plate on one of my cross-belts. I pulled a linen rag out of my haversack, dampened it with water from my canteen, patted it in the dust in the street gutter, and in literally less than a minute of rubbing my plate looked like gold. Too easy.

Roman armor is always depicted as either white/gray/silvery or yellow/gold. The words used to describe it are the same used to describe silver jewelry or gems or stars. MANY brass belt and scabbard parts show traces of tinning or silvering.

Armor was shiny. No getting around it.


For the Romans there wasn't any problem to polish mirror-like (don't forget that they had polishes bronze mirrors). Polished surfaces are much more saved from rust than unpolished ones (just ask Peroni – this is the reason why he prefer to get his new developed helmets in the polished variant :lol: ).

Tinning is of course even a better rust protection.

Kalkriese plates were I believe tinned, or at least some of the Buckles, just repeating a little snippet I heard from a reliable source last night!
Many late period helmets were given a silver sheathing, it is very difficult to imagine that this expensive decoration was allowed to turn black with silver oxide. Therefore polish, and fairly gentle polish at that, must have been used.

Ammianus (late 4th C.) also describes Roman troops in glittering armour.
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