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Leather Armor? (NO HOLDS BARRED!!)
#16
It didn't exist in the Middle Ages. The only time leather was used in conjunction with layered textiles is as a decorative cover - using very fine and expensive leather. The cover offered nothing to increase damage resistance.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#17
I have to wonder... if it is possible to emboss copper alloy into the myriad of shapes we know the Romans did, and if it was fashionable for generals in the early imperial period to have political and/or mythological scenes or figures embossed into their breastplates, why could it not have been equally fashionable for those who wore breastplates a century of two later to have had copper-alloy brestplates embossed with scales? Why does the appearance of scales have to indicate leather? We do not know the minds of the armourers or most of the senior officers who may have worn breastplates decorated with scales. How then can we assume that simply because the decoration of sculpted figures has changed the material being depicted must have changed?
Twisting or warping of bodily shapes in sculpture may be nothing more than artistic licence and to my mind does not indicate the material of the armour with any degree of security. The lack of hinges or seems is better evidence for the nature of the material depicted but still may suffer from artists views on how they should depict something. Sculptures may be very interesting and often instructive, but they are not photographs. Therefore we do not know how much actuality we are seeing versus artists' methodology.

Crispvs
Who is called \'\'Paul\'\' by no-one other than his wife, parents and brothers. :!: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_exclaim.gif" alt=":!:" title="Exclamation" />:!:

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#18
Talking on muscalata , i remember this passage of Silius Italicus (VII , 623):

"
intorti Bibulus saxi atque in terga refertur,
strage super lapsus socium, qua fibula morsus
loricae crebro laxata resoluerat ictu,
accepit lateri penitusque in uiscera adegit
extabat fixo quod forte cadauere ferrum.
"

I think the armour cause of this stupid death , can be only a type of musculata ; the reference to the lateral wound when the "fibula laxata" cannot corresponds to mail,scale, laminated armour. The dead in this case is a young official.
"Each historical fact needs to be considered, insofar as possible, no with hindsight and following abstract universal principles, but in the context of own proper age and environment" Aldo A. Settia

a.k.a Davide Dall\'Angelo




SISMA- Società Italiana per gli Studi Militari Antichi
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#19
Travis, please bear with me here (no pun intended :lol: ),

Quote:The primaporta is an isolate, it's the only one that looks like it that we know of.

But, can't the same be said of these nude Pius statues ? They both look like they belong to a "heroic" genre rather than the typical triumphal types.

[Image: bergamaa.jpg][Image: antpiusa.jpg]

Are these not also isolates ? If they are, then why should leather be perceived as being the dominant form of this armor ?

There must be something more that has pushed you more firmly into the leather camp. Just wondering what it is :?
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#20
Quote:It didn't exist in the Middle Ages. The only time leather was used in conjunction with layered textiles is as a decorative cover - using very fine and expensive leather. The cover offered nothing to increase damage resistance.

The same thing may be happening here for all I know. The leather shield from the PMA is a 17th C. piece of classicizing parade armor, but it is very substantial. I suspect it would hold up to quite a bit.

Also, boiled leather scale was possible, and used extensively in the middle ages.

I really don't have any experience with hardened leather and for every naysayer I can produce several enthusiasts. It's a matter of expectations.

Travis
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aka Travis Lee Clark (21st C. American name)

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#21
Quote:I have to wonder... if it is possible to emboss copper alloy into the myriad of shapes we know the Romans did, and if it was fashionable for generals in the early imperial period to have political and/or mythological scenes or figures embossed into their breastplates, why could it not have been equally fashionable for those who wore breastplates a century of two later to have had copper-alloy brestplates embossed with scales? Why does the appearance of scales have to indicate leather?

We can never know for sure. There are no surviving loricae Musculata from the Roman period, so all evidence is circumstantial.

Some points though.

Since no example in leather or plate exists we can only make educated guesses. It then becomes a game of which is more likely.

We never find elaborate musculatae. We do find scales. Which is more likely, a lost sculpted musculata to look like scales or scales added to a musculata. Since I have evidence demonstrating a semi-rigid musculata, and we know that the squamata was not rigid, I think the second is far more likely, but I could be wrong.

Quote:Twisting or warping of bodily shapes in sculpture may be nothing more than artistic licence and to my mind does not indicate the material of the armour with any degree of security.

If I was only looking at cuirasses on figures I could accept that. I am also looking at several cuirasses that have no occupant, and their form can not be ascribed to anything but flexible materials. Why would they make a cuirass that is inflexible LOOK flexible? There simply is no logic to that and no reason an artist would take that much license. What's the motivation for the artist to make armor look LESS substantial? The more plain reading is that they were flexible.


Quote:Sculptures may be very interesting and often instructive, but they are not photographs. Therefore we do not know how much actuality we are seeing versus artists' methodology.

Crispvs

All good points and I concede them all. I write about all of these in my essay on the problems of using sculptures exclusively on my website. There is of course only one small problem. It's the only evidence we have. So if we are going to talk about it all, we have to make some judgement calls.

I will be the first to admit that my interpretation may be wrong, we are only talking about circumstantial evidence here, but it is the best evidence available for this problem. I've laid my best interpretation of what we are seeing in the art, you are free to disagree, but I at least hope to convince people that the assumptions about leather armor are just that, assumptions, and there is plenty of room for doubt.

Travis
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aka Travis Lee Clark (21st C. American name)

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#22
Quote:Travis, please bear with me here (no pun intended :lol: ),

Travis:21n43x78 Wrote:The primaporta is an isolate, it's the only one that looks like it that we know of.

But, can't the same be said of these nude Pius statues ? They both look like they belong to a "heroic" genre rather than the typical triumphal types.

Are these not also isolates ? If they are, then why should leather be perceived as being the dominant form of this armor ?

There must be something more that has pushed you more firmly into the leather camp. Just wondering what it is :?

There is only one statue that has a configuration like the primaporta, that is, the primaporta itself. We have several that show floppy or flexible cuirasses. The very fact that you showed two is proof that they are not an isolate, but a trend, and we have far more than two.

As far as it being the dominant form, I have no real idea, I'm just guessing, but I think that by the Antonine period, the armor is leather.

Two big things make me think that, the lack of side seams, and the torsion of the figures, and the presence of floppy cuirasses like in the images above. I don't think my position has changed all that much.

I think any re-enactor is justified in having a bronze cuirass. They definitely existed. My opinion is that the leather ones also existed. That's as much as I will say with any conviction.

As far as ratios and numbers, I'm just guessing, but hey what else am I going to do? You make your bets and takes your chances, and this is my best guess of what we are seeing in the artwork.

Travis
Theodoros of Smyrna (Byzantine name)
aka Travis Lee Clark (21st C. American name)

Moderator, RAT

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#23
Thanks, Travis. I see your position more clearly now.

So, as you see it, there's a period of change at work here. First, there are linen/metal cuirass types co-existing, followed by leather/metel, then finally just leather cuirasses when we reach Antoninus Pius.

I've been following your discussion on pteruges as well. So, your guess is that linen pteruges with a leather musculata was the norm by the mid-2nd century. Interesting combination. I don't think anyone's done that before.
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#24
Quote:My opinion is that the leather ones also existed. That's as much as I will say with any conviction.

I certainly have no trouble with the idea that leather armor COULD have existed in Imperial times, but the singular lack of any actual evidence really doesn't allow for the idea to continue past an interesting possibility. Since, as I wrote, I see other explanations for the sculptural depictions, I don't see them as being hugely compelling- but they are interesting nonetheless.

Fortunately, there's a lot of postulation in archaeology and reenactment and until the archaeological record is complete, there will continue to be.

And who knows, actual artifacts may be found some day- if I recall correctly, there was little evidence for the Lorica segmentata save for sculptural depictions prior to the discovery of the Corbridge Hoard, and there are still sculptures that show armor we've never seen.

Matt
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#25
Hey Travis, does this look somewhat interesting ?

Too few pteruges and it needs muscles, but the material is leather.

[Image: linen-sub.jpg]
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#26
Quote:Also, boiled leather scale was possible, and used extensively in the middle ages.

I really don't have any experience with hardened leather and for every naysayer I can produce several enthusiasts. It's a matter of expectations.
I thought we were discussing whether the musculata was made of leather. If you are expanding the argument to claim that leather scale/lamellar or layered leather was worn then we are wasting our time. Leather scale/lamellar was used extensively in the Bronze Age and in Asia. It was used in Medieval Europe but not "extensively". Some examples were also found at Dura Europos so at least some in the Roman Empire made use of it. We have a couple of examples of middle eastern segmented leather dating to the middle ages. There is also plenty of evidence that hardened leather cuirasses were worn over mail in the middle ages. None of this is relevant to what might have been worn in Classical Rome.

The images you have clearly show a flexible garment. If it was intended to be used as armour then it would be rigid. Unless there is evidence of reinforcing plates (e.g. scales) - in which case they would be squamata or plumata, not musculata. It doesn't matter whether these flexible examples were made of leather or not since they cannot have been intended to be worn as armour. You keep mentioning hardened leather and then show us images of flexible garments. You can't have it both ways. A musculata made from hardened leather is not flexible.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#27
Quote:Hey Travis, does this look somewhat interesting ?

Too few pteruges and it needs muscles, but the material is leather.
It is a costume, not armour. I bet I could put a pencil straight through it.
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#28
Quote:It is a costume, not armour. I bet I could put a pencil straight through it.

:lol: :lol: :lol: Quite right, Dan. No, that's because it's the flexible kind :wink:

Maybe it can pass for a subarmalis :roll:
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#29
Fourth photo down, from the Arles Museum. Musculata at the right, with all the trappings of war on it still. Looks pretty floppy to me, which suggests non-metallic, and because of the baldric, sword and focale (?) still on it not a subarmalis.

[url:3soy1q7y]http://www.leg8.com/photos/_2005/arles/musee_d_arles/sculptures.htm[/url]

Hmmm... :?
TARBICvS/Jim Bowers
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#30
Quote:I see other explanations for the sculptural depictions, I don't see them as being hugely compelling- but they are interesting nonetheless.

I've gone over them in close detail, and while I can see arguments that these are subarmalia or linen or what not, leather is still the best option. Again, I say this in my article, no one doubts that the tongue pteruges and elaborate equestrian boots are leather, yet somehow they find the notion of molded leather cuirasses troubling. Ultimately it comes down to simple assumptions, assumptions that are not fully warranted.

Quote:Fortunately, there's a lot of postulation in archaeology and reenactment and until the archaeological record is complete, there will continue to be.

Again, the preference for the archaeological record is itself a problem since the archaeological record preserves potential isolates and anomalies. As far as we know, we may be wearing reproductions that represent a very narrow band of armor that was only worn in one small region or time. Everyone sees these problems with the "artistic license" when it comes to the artwork, very rarely to they see the problems with archaeological finds. I'm an art historian by training, so my thing is the art, which is no less valid a source than a few possibly accidental survivals in my opinion. The best is to consult all sources and look for commonalities. We simply can't do that in the case of the musculata since the only firm evidence is the artwork.

Quote:And who knows, actual artifacts may be found some day- if I recall correctly, there was little evidence for the Lorica segmentata save for sculptural depictions prior to the discovery of the Corbridge Hoard, and there are still sculptures that show armor we've never seen.

Matt

True and true!! Here's hoping a musculata is found in some peat bog some day!!

Travis
Theodoros of Smyrna (Byzantine name)
aka Travis Lee Clark (21st C. American name)

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