Lorica segmentata

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The lōrīca segmentāta (segmented plates) was a type of segmented armour almost exclusively used in the Roman Empire, but the Latin name was first used in the 16th century (the ancient form is unknown, although it is possible that the Romans referred to the armour as "lorica laminata"). The armour itself consisted of broad ferrous (originally iron, but steel in modern recreations) strips ('girth hoops') fastened to internal leather straps. The strips were arranged horizontally on the body, overlapping downwards, and they surrounded the torso in two halves, being fastened at the front and back. The upper body and shoulders were protected by additional strips ('shoulder guards') and breast- and backplates. The form of the armour allowed it to be stored very compactly, since it was possible to separate it into four sections. The fitments that closed the various plate sections together (buckles, lobate hinges, hinged straps, tie-hooks, tie-rings, etc.) were, however, made of brass. However in later variants dating from around 75-80 A.D. the fastenings of the armor were simplified. Bronze hinges were removed in favor of simple rivets, belt fastenings utilized small hooks, and the lowest two girdle plates were replaced by one broad plate.



During the time of its use, it was modified several times, the currently recognised types being the Kalkriese, Corbridge and Newstead types, named after their places of discovery. There was, however, a considerable overlap between these types in use and the Corbridge and Newstead types are often found at the same site (e.g. at Caerleon in Wales, Carnuntum in Austria, Carlisle in England and León in Spain). It is possible that there was a fourth type, a hybrid of the banded armour together with scale shoulder defences. However, this is only known from one badly damaged statue originating at Alba Iulia in Romania. The currently accepted range for the use of the armour is from about 9 B.C. (Dangstetten) to the late 3rd century A.D. (León). Its use was geographically widespread but mail may have been more common at all times.


The question as to precisely who used the armour is debated. There is a clear difference in armour between the two corps shown on Trajan's Column. This is a monument erected in 113 in Rome to commemorate the conquest of Dacia by Emperor Trajan (ruled 98-117): its bas-reliefs are a key source for Roman military equipment. Auxilia are generally shown wearing chain mail (lorica hamata) cuirasses or simple leather corslets, and carrying oval shields. Legionaries are uniformly depicted wearing lorica segmentata and with curved rectangular shields.[1] On this basis, it has long been supposed that lorica segmentata was used by legionaries only.[citation needed]

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