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I was reading the "Imperial Roman Legionary AD 161-284" (Ross Cowan. Illustrated by Angus McBride) when I came across one of the plates (plate B) depicting a Legionary Centurion during the era of the Marcomannic wars 166-180 C.E. (apologies for the bad quality - I had to take the pictures with my webcam).

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This is the description of the plate:


Quote: The centurion is identified by his long-sleeved red tunic. He is heavily bearded as was the fashion at this time. His helmet is a bronze Imperial Italic H, the last in the exceptional series of legionary helmets developed from Gallic prototypes since the mid-1st century BC. It is uncertain if centurions stil wore transverse helmet crests (Vegetius, Epitome, 2.14) He wears an old-fashioned ring-mail shirt with shoulder doublings, an armour popular in the 1st century AD but some shirts could still have been in service. His baldric and belt follow the example from the soldier's grave at Lyon, probably dating to 197. This style of belt and broad baldric, with strap-ends decorated with terminals, was popular throughout the 3rd century. The letters on the belt spell out FELIX VTERE - 'use with good luck'. His elaborate scabbard chape follows an example from Saalburg and his sword is the proto-pattern welded example from Canterbury. He also wears heavy leather gaiters which double as greaves. The trident and dolphin shield emblem follows a design on one of the Aurelian panels reused on the arch of Constantine. It is uncertain if it was an actual shield blazon or simply the result of the sculptor's imagination. (See Wuilleumier 1950; Bennett 1983; Bishop and Coulston 1993.)


(Imperial Roman Legionary AD 161-284. Ross Cowan. Illustrated by Angus McBride. (2003) p. 59-60)


The Centurion wears a long-sleeved tunic, Lorica Hamata and an Imperial Italic 'H'. I have seen other pictures depicting legionaries of that era with Segmentata and the Imperial Italic 'G' and 'H':

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Are there any other suggestions on what a legionary from this era would have appeared?
While there are many detractors of the McBride image, I will admit I am basing my impression on it.... :wink:
There is a wide choice of armour to choose from though, from hamata to squamata, to lorica segmentata.
The helmets in the pictures look as good a choice as any too. The theilenhofen comes with a brow guard though,
and is also a good candidate for the Trajanic period I think.

There will be more experienced voices to add to this though. Smile
"The centurion is identified by his long-sleeved red tunic."

Ahh - I see Nick Fuente's article is still knocking around and influencing people. :evil:


"The theilenhofen comes with a brow guard though, and is also a good candidate for the Trajanic period I think."

The Theilenhofen helmet (both of them in fact - the other is a cavalry helmet) is a bit late for a Trajanic impression and is probably closer to the middle two quarters of the second century AD.

In the absence of other evidence I would think that the Imperial Italic 'H' helmet is suitable for the latter part of the Marcomannic Wars and it is possible that the baldric arrangement from Lyon may have been around in the early 180s (the Lyon burial is not exactly dated but is generally though to be some time in the 190s [AFAIK]). I would love to see the evidence for leather gaiters replacing greaves. Of course, our information on the appearance of soldiers at that period is extremely limited and as far as I know there is no secure information to tell us what a centurio would have looked like at the time. I believe that the suggestion that transverse crests were no longer worn comes from the fact that the cross-bracing seen on second century helmets would not allow the use of central crest holders. Of course, there may have been some other way to do it. We are hardly awash with infantry helmets from the mid to late second century (four Imperial Italic 'H' helmets, one of which survives only in the outline revealed by its surviving brass edge binding and one of which retained no fittings).

The infantryman in the second picture seems to be a reasonable reconstruction of a soldier perhaps of the 120s to the 150s (although his armour is the now out of date Robinson Newstead reconstruction), but the cavalryman is wearing a helmet which is probably several decades later and may actually be an infantry helmet.

As I said above, our knowledge of the appearance of soldiers in the mid to late second century AD is extremely limited, but we know that mail, scale and segmentata armours were all still being worn in the period. Spathas such as the one from the Lyon grave would probably be common, if not typical, although some soldiers may still have been using ring pommel type swords. I believe that scabbards of the period would typically have 'box' chapes made from bone or copper-alloy and scabbards would be suspended by the use of scabbard slides, four ring suspension being a thing of the past by then. His helmet could be of iron or copper-alloy (three of the surviving Italic 'H' helmets were of iron and the well known one from Niedermoemter was of copper-alloy). Conical helmets are also a possibility, especially for soldiers stationed in the East. Greaves are also a strong possibility and manicae are also possible. Pila were still being used, as of course were spears, as well as lanciae. At this time there was still a distinction between citizen and non-citizen units so perhaps auxilia might not have been equipped with pila. The fact that straight sided scuta were found in a mid third century AD context at Dura shows that the form must still have been current in the 180s, although large oval scuta are also likely. Subarmali with pteruges are likely.
Clothing in the period may already have developed into the style seen from the third century on, with narrower long sleeved tunics and trousers, but then again many people may still have been wearing the older style of Roman tunic. The knee length femenalia type trousers are a strong possibility, but long brachae may have been becoming more common by that time. By that time caligae seem to have fallen out of use as footwear and so a more enclosed type of shoe or boot might be more appropriate.

I hope this helps a bit.

Crispvs
Yes I agree wit hCrispus, I will be using greaves instead of leather gaitors.
I didn't realise the Theilenhoffen was dated so precisely Crispus. So 125 to 175 only?
Salvete,

The Theilenhofen helmet was found as a deposit (together with the cavalry helmet) in a stone building of the vicus of the fort of Theilenhofen, the building was destroyed by fire. The floor of the building contained fragments of Antonine sigallata and a coin of Commodus (189 AD), other finds indicate use of the building through the end of the 2nd century and into the first third of the 3rd century. The helmets themselves do not show any traces of a fire and may therefore have been hidden in the building AFTER it had been destroyed by fire. They are PRESUMED to have had a long history of use prior to their deposition and therefore usually dated around the middle of the 2nd century but earlier or later dates are possible.

Sites from the Marcomannic wars such as Burgstall, Iza, Eining-Unterfeld or actually yield helmet of the Niederbieber type.

The mail doubling would appear rather old and obsolete at this period and breast plates such as the one found at Burgstall more likely.
Quote:The mail doubling would appear rather old and obsolete at this period and breast plates such as the one found at Burgstall more likely

Are there any images of the breastplate? I've tried to look it up but I can't find anything.

Grazie,

Lorenzo
Hi Lorenzo,

You can see it here.

Greetings
Alexandr
Yes the doublers are a bone of contention...... :twisted:

Ross Cowan

Quote:Ahh - I see Nick Fuente's article is still knocking around and influencing people. :evil:

I designed the Legionary plates back in 2001/2 and didn't have Graham Sumner's excellent research to help with the tunic colour. I get rather weary of the moans about the plates in my Legionary books, usually regarding tunic colour or Newstead LS or eagles in cages. I did a decent job at the time, especially with the Teutoburg and Imma battle scenes. As regards equipment and clothing, I would do things differently now, but I am more interested in drama and action. As I have said in another thread (concerning Sekunda's Spartan Army), if you think an Osprey book is not up to scratch or is out of date, submit a proposal. That's what I did.

Cheers,

R!
Quote:Hi Lorenzo,

You can see it here.

Greetings
Alexandr

Grazie mille =)

Quote:Sites from the Marcomannic wars such as Burgstall, Iza, Eining-Unterfeld or actually yield helmet of the Niederbieber type.

But does this suggest that they were standard issue during the era?
Quote:"Sites from the Marcomannic wars such as Burgstall, Iza, Eining-Unterfeld or actually yield helmet of the Niederbieber type."

But does this suggest that they were standard issue during the era?
At least it was used during this era. For example the Burgstall complex has very short horizon. It is dated to AD 172-180. So almost* all of the items found there have been lost here at this time. This of course indicates that these items were used at this time.

Greetings
Alexandr

* I wrote "almost" because there are some slight indications of possible Roman military presence near Burgstall before the time frame I mentioned. Nevertheless if this would be the case, it would date to the Augustan era. At this time Niederbieber helmets weren't used, so they certainly belong to the times of Marcomannic wars.
I do not think that we will ever have sufficient information to determine what was standard issue.

The Niederbieber was a relatively new type (the earliest find from Newstead dates not much earlier) and it would go on to become (almost?) universal in the third century. The finds I cited are very narrowly and securely dated to the Marcomannic wars but they are only a few cheek pieces and pieces of reinforcement bars so we have not idea how widespread use of this helmet type may have been. The Theilenhofen and its cousin from Brigetio can also be broadly dated to this period as can the Niedermönter helmet (the inscription of legio XXX dates it after 119 AD and likely before the legion was awarded „pia fidelis“ in 197 AD). Older Weisenau types may also still have been around.
Sorry Ross,

It was actually the late lamented Mr McBride I was thinking of when I wrote that. I also did not mean my mention of the Newstead segmentata as anything personal. Until Bishop published on the subject neither I nor you or anyone else not closely connected with Mike Bishop would have known that Newstead armour had three part main shoulder guards. I was simply pointing it out for anyone wishing to base an impression on what is, as I said, probably a pretty good representation of a soldier in the middle of the second century AD. Sorry if I touched a justifiably raw nerve. :oops:

Crispvs

Ross Cowan

Crispus, I apologise for being so tetchy. Actually, this plate is perhaps the one I don't really like. I approve of the suitably muscular and heroic-looking centurion, but I wish that Angus McBride had made the Marcus Aurelius figure a little less robust. He's rather Gimli the Dwarf-esque! ;-) )

Cheers,

R
Ross wrote:
Quote:I designed the Legionary plates back in 2001/2 and didn't have Graham Sumner's excellent research to help with the tunic colour.

Not sure whether I could help too much with this.

Paul wrote:
Quote:"The centurion is identified by his long-sleeved red tunic."

Ahh - I see Nick Fuente's article is still knocking around and influencing people.

Very much so. The Fuentes article is widely accepted in academic circles. I know I came across it several times during my own research.

On the other hand I suspect that the alternative Centurion of this period that I had to paint for 'Arms and Armour of the Imperial Roman Soldier', would not go down well here at all!

Personally I have no objections to the red tunic myself but for a Centurion one would expect it to be better quality material textile than that of an ordinary soldier. However that is something very hard to put across in an illustration, I could only suggest that dye wise it was a deeper red and not a salmon pink.

Crispus, did you get my post re dagger by the way?

Graham.
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