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What does the Ludovisi Sarcophagus tell us about Roman armor in the 3rd century? I've been looking at some of the details and it's a bit perplexing.

It appears that one figure is wearing a kind of musculata, but it has a pattern on it as if it's made of scales. That's odd and it reminds me of the renditions of Sarmatian cataphracts on Trajan's Column, where the scale pattern follows the musculature of the horse and rider.

Other figures on the sarcophagus look fanciful, while others seem to be plausible renditions of Roman soldiers. For example, one figure is a remarkably clear rendition of a soldier wearing mail.

How reliable is this information? Is it mostly artistic license? If so, what is our best evidence for what Roman soldiers wore in the 3rd century?
Just for the discussion, the Ludovisci sarcophagus can be seen on the main site, here.
While a lot of the details on the Ludovisi sarcophagus are stylized, this is fairly reliable detail.

We see the mixed musculata/squamata type from the late 2nd C. onward.

You can see it on the sarcophagus of Balbinus and many other sources.

Here's a previous thread on this subject with lots of images:

http://www.romanarmy.com/rat/viewtopic. ... s+balbinus

I have seen the Ludovisi sarcophagus many times in person and I have quite a few images. If you have any specific questions, just let me know.

Travis
Thanks, Travis.

It's interesting to note that there is a figure that wears a helmet with squamata markings. Is this just fancy or does it represent a valid type of head protection--perhaps the scale hood. Although it does appear to be a helmet rather than a hood with that creature coming out the top (an eagle? goose? or that thing that burst out of John Hurt in Alien?)

Am I correct in understanding that the figures wearing the lorica musculata squamata (that sounds like an Italian seafood dish :lol: ) represent officers because of the knot tied around their waist? Was the musculata only worn by officers?

The footsoldiers appear to be wearing no armor apart from helmet and shield, except for the signifer in hamata. Shoud this be understood to imply that soldiers from the period of the sarcophagus no longer wore armor or is it just an artistic convention?

The helmets don't much resemble the Niederbieber style helmet that I would expect for this period. Are these representations of Hellenistic era Attic helmets?
Quote:Thanks, Travis.

No problemo!

Quote:It's interesting to note that there is a figure that wears a helmet with squamata markings. Is this just fancy or does it represent a valid type of head protection--perhaps the scale hood. Although it does appear to be a helmet rather than a hood with that creature coming out the top (an eagle? goose? or that thing that burst out of John Hurt in Alien?)

It is meant to be a helmet. There are two ways to interpret the scales on the helmet. It is either bronze scales hammered into the helmet as a form or repousee decoration, or attached as applique decoration. We actually see this similar treatment on the cheekpieces of the Phrygian helment form the Tomb of Philip II. As far as the animal head, I think that's just artistic license.

Quote:Am I correct in understanding that the figures wearing the lorica musculata squamata (that sounds like an Italian seafood dish :lol: ) represent officers because of the knot tied around their waist? Was the musculata only worn by officers?

Generally the musculata indicates an officer, but there are exceptions. In this case however I think these are meant to indicate officers.

Quote:The footsoldiers appear to be wearing no armor apart from helmet and shield, except for the signifer in hamata. Shoud this be understood to imply that soldiers from the period of the sarcophagus no longer wore armor or is it just an artistic convention?
Mostly convention, but these were likely painted so details such as chain mail, might have been painted on.

Quote:The helmets don't much resemble the Niederbieber style helmet that I would expect for this period. Are these representations of Hellenistic era Attic helmets?

Most likely that's the case. These late period sarcophagi are often very stylized, but there are a number of details, like the lorica musculata squamata (why do I have a sudden urge for frutti di mare?) can be verified from other sources.

The portanaccio sarcophagus has many similar problems.

Hope this helps.

Travis
I believe both musculata and helmet are embossed with feathers, a motif found on at least one cavalry helmet.
Avete omnes,

Travis wrote:

Quote:As far as the animal head, I think that's just artistic license.

Surely the eagle head on the Ludovisi sarcophagus looks somewhat unusual but it was a common topic of 'Cavalry Sports helmets' to have an eagle head decoration. I found after short searching the following examples:

[url:i2coyzka]http://people.freenet.de/u-bahr/Eagles.jpg[/url]

From left to right helmets from Brigetio, Ostrov and Heddernheim. The reconstruction painting among them shows a helmet that belonged to the Collection Guttmann and shows that these decorations could have looked very spectacular under circumstances.

Greets - Uwe