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leather cuirass
#16
The idea that 'segmentata' armour was made of leather is an old myth that refuses to die !! It originated with early studies of Trajan's column ( 19C and before). No-one knew what the segmented armour worn by the legionaries on Trajan's Column was made of before modern archaeology.

On the base of the column is carved, life sized, a tropaeum of captured arms which includes Sarmatian armour of horizontal strips, though depicted as flexible in the torso, and significantly the front strips are fastened with buckle-and-straps, like a series of leather belts! (Tacitus famously tells us that some Sarmatian armour was made of "toughened leather" Hist.I.79)

What more logical than to assume that the similar 'strip' armour shown on the column above being worn by legionaries was also leather?
..........and thus a myth was born which exists to this day, despite archaeology demonstrating many years ago that this armour was iron.......

P.S. The sarmatian armour in question is just below the window to the right....
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#17
The Sarmatians and many other cultures at the time wore hardened leather or rawhide armour - scale and lamellar. I'm even open to the idea that Romans wore this type of armour. But it would take more than Dura Europos to make a case. Every argument I have seen that tries and argues that other Roman typologies (segmentata, musculata, etc.) were made of leather seem pitifully desperate. Once you actually define what constitutes "armour", all of the so-called evidence evaporates.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#18
Hmmm, interesting discusion... So I also try to add my personal oppinion.

Yes, no doubt that the other cultures and nations used hardened leather armor but I am really not sure, that Romans did. AS I can remember, we have no evidences about leather segmentata or leather musculata using by the Romans. Yes the counterargument may be, that a leather could not survived to our times but: We have a lot of finds (caligae, baldrics etc.). Yes, the leather segmentata is lighter than the iron one and a leather is not corrosible but.. The level of protection against weapons: I have no experiences from battles but I am quite sure, that iron is harder than hardened leather and also firmer than leather one. Yes, a hardened leather is firm (my friends have said that it is really dificult to cut through) but... an iron armor is more effectively - I am sure about it.

And I am also quite sure that also Romans have known it. They have been able to produced iron loricas and we have a lot of evidences about it. But we have no evidences about leather armoring by the Romans.

So I am afraid, that leather loricas using by the reenactors is based on the myth. I do not want to insult anybody but the true is that If I had seen this loricas, it has been in the Italy...

valete and regards
Radka Hlavacova A.K.A Titvs Iventivs Martivs
Tesserarivs Legio IIII FF
Castra Romana, Czech republic
"Concordia militvm"
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#19
Argumentative it doesn´t really make sense to debate the usefulness of leather armour per se. As we know our ancestors often made / did things which do not make a lot of sense to us. Using leather armour might be one of these. It makes more sense IMO to simply study the sources.

IMO the sources have been a bit stretched by Mr. D´Amato in this regard. The interpretation IMO lacks some knowledge about the nature of Ancient Art as established by Classical Archaeology. As one example out of many I would like to point at the "green leather cuirass" shown on Etruscan urns, such as the example below. Mr. D´Amato seems not to be aware of the Ancient industry of patinizing bronze by purpose, discussed at length within the discipline. The industry patinized bronze wares in different colours ranging from green over brown to black. A hint to this could also be the green shield rim, as we know from archaeology were often made of bronze as well, simultaneously green helmets on other urns. (if they are not just mere conventions, resp. there were just no other colours available for the painter at the moment etc.) OR green is used here to represent iron, which would explain the green swords, which were certainly not made of green painted leather, I´d say. A similar argument could be made for the "dancing centurion" from Pompeji. Also I don´t see how a smooth sculptural surface is able to give information about the nature of the displayed material. It could in all cases be fabric as well. Last but not least, a technical difference between rawhide and leaather should always be expressed, however Mr. D´Amato is frequently subsuming rawhide under leather.
Christian K.

No reconstruendum => No reconstruction.

Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas.

LEGIO XIII GEMINA

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#20
Ohh, i forgot one my theory: Is not it also a comfort of some reenactors? ;-) ) Leather cuiras is not so weighty as iron one, itnot corrodes, looks cool etc. ;-) )
Radka Hlavacova A.K.A Titvs Iventivs Martivs
Tesserarivs Legio IIII FF
Castra Romana, Czech republic
"Concordia militvm"
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#21
Quote:Argumentative it doesn´t really make sense to debate the usefulness of leather armour per se. As we know our ancestors often made / did things which do not make a lot of sense to us. Using leather armour might be one of these. It makes more sense IMO to simply study the sources.

i'm sorry but i'm unfamiliar with this term. perhaps a stupid question but what does it mean?
Yves Goris
****
Quintus Aurelius Lepidus
Legio XI Claudia Pia Fidelis
Reburrus
Cohors VII Raetorum Equitata (subunit of Legio XI CPF)
vzw Legia
Flanders
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#22
IMO: In My Opinion...
Greets!

Jasper Oorthuys
Webmaster & Editor, Ancient Warfare magazine
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#23
Quote:Ohh, i forgot one my theory: Is not it also a comfort of some reenactors? ;-) ) Leather cuiras is not so weighty as iron one, itnot corrodes, looks cool etc. ;-) )
Any leather armour that offers some degree of protection actually weighs more than metal armour. The whole point of using metal is that, pound for pound, it provides more protection than any other available material.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#24
Dan,
well said and not only that; bulk and and lack of flexibility would also seem to be an issue.
R/
Mike Daniels
a.k.a

Titus Minicius Parthicus

Legio VI FFC.


If not me...who?

If not now...when?
:wink: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" />:wink:
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#25
Well... I am not saying leather offers good protection. I am trying to say that modern leather "replicas" are probably lighter and more comfortable to wear than metal armor. And the people who wear leather "replicas" today can ignore the limited protection - nobody is trying to slash/stab/kill them.

And, they do not have to deal with rust every time they put the armor on...

So, I guess that at least some of those who wear leather armor are simply lazy...
Radka Hlavacova A.K.A Titvs Iventivs Martivs
Tesserarivs Legio IIII FF
Castra Romana, Czech republic
"Concordia militvm"
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#26
Quote:
On the base of the column is carved, life sized, a tropaeum of captured arms which includes Sarmatian armour of horizontal strips, though depicted as flexible in the torso, and significantly the front strips are fastened with buckle-and-straps, like a series of leather belts! (Tacitus famously tells us that some Sarmatian armour was made of "toughened leather" Hist.I.79)

....

I can't help seeing that as a subarmalis. Is it just me?
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
[b]Legio XIIII GMV. (Q. Magivs)RMRS Remember Atuatuca! Vengence will be ours!
Titus Flavius Germanus
Batavian Coh I
Byron Angel
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#27
Avete!

Just to add a few points, possibly to each side of the debate. I have a feeling that part of the ongoing "need" for leather armor started because the Victorians were convinced that there was no way the Romans--or any other ancient society--could have had so much metal. You see it again and again: every metal artifact is treated as something royal and fabulous, whether it is gold, bronze, or iron, while the *functional* versions of such things are blithely assumed to be leather. Yet archeologists find literally TONS of Roman ironwork all over the world, and as D'Amato says, that's just a tiny percentage of what they actually produced.

There is also a misconception that metal armor is far less protective than it really is. Even current literature dismisses typical 1mm-thick helmets and armor as "too thin to be practical in battle", which we know is ridiculous. The funny part is that the exact same artifact may be dismissed as "too thick and heavy to be used in battle"! So with metal being seen as so obviously worthless (too light and too heavy at the same time, sheesh!), naturally there has to be something better. Hence the assumption of leather.

Oddly enough, we actually have more evidence for the use of leather and hide defences now than the Victorians did. For example, the big long discussion over in the Greek section on the linothorax has pretty much convinced me that the corselet we see so often in Greek artwork was probably not linen, nor called a linothorax, but a *leather* item called a spolas. That's just where the current evidence is pointing. We know that rawhide scale armor was very common in the late Bronze Age, and there is an all-leather Bronze Age shield known from Ireland (along with a couple wooden molds for similar ones). So I have no objection to the concept of leather armor! But I don't see any reason to interpret most Roman depictions of armor as anything other than mail or metal plate.

I'm not sure practicality or cost of construction had a lot to do with it. If they were looking for the cheapest way to make armor, the iron lorica segmentata would have had fewer plates, and none of those silly flimsy brass fittings! Practicality on campaign *might* have been more of an issue--I understand that rawhide items need to be maintained (smoked now and then, etc.) to keep them from rotting away, but I don't know if we can come up with any truly meaningful tests on whether iron or rawhide or leather armor might last longer over a few weeks of rain and mud. So much depends on treatments or waterproofing that are completely hypothetical.

Along those lines, yes, if armor was supposed to be *leather*, it's odd that we have found none while all sorts of other leather items are common finds. On the other hand, if it was *rawhide* that was used, I would expect that to decay away very quickly even in circumstances that would preserve leather--though I don't know that for certain! Even if that's the case, however, it leaves us with *no evidence*! And evidence is what we need for any reasonable conclusion.

Finally, beware of contradictory arguments! People talk about *hardened* leather being as tough as mild steel, then say that leather is also flexible. Well, if it has been hardened, it is NOT flexible! No more than steel, at least, and it's also more brittle. Yes, you can make things like 17th century buff leather (which we suspect is very similar to what the Greek spolas was made of), but you can't shape that like a muscled cuirass, and there would be no point in segmenting it since it's already flexible!

Well, I ramble. The proponents of leather Roman armor need to come up with more evidence, basically. Way too much of what they present is based either on misconceptions or very shaky interpretation of artwork. I'd love to believe, but they have to show me.

Valete,

Matthew
Matthew Amt (Quintus)
Legio XX, USA
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.larp.com/legioxx/">http://www.larp.com/legioxx/
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#28
i have to admit that these are very interesting arguments! Smile
Yves Goris
****
Quintus Aurelius Lepidus
Legio XI Claudia Pia Fidelis
Reburrus
Cohors VII Raetorum Equitata (subunit of Legio XI CPF)
vzw Legia
Flanders
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#29
This subject again?! LOL Geez- hasn't leather armour been beaten into the ground as a discussion? Yves, it's really a good idea to do a search for basic questions like this one as it's fairly likely in the long history of RAT that it was done before... :wink:
See FABRICA ROMANORVM Recreations in the Marketplace for custom helmets, armour, swords and more!
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#30
Quote:This subject again?! LOL Geez- hasn't leather armour been beaten into the ground as a discussion?
On RAT, probably yes. The subject has been renewed due to D'Amato's recently published book. The Italians cannot seem to live without their leather armour.
Titus Licinius Neuraleanus
aka Lee Holeva
Conscribe te militem in legionibus, vide mundum, inveni terras externas, cognosce miros peregrinos, eviscera eos.
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