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Lorica squamata

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Lorica squamata

Lorica squamata was a scale armor which – judging by both finds and figurative representations – never enjoyed the same popularity among the ancient Romans as chain mail (lorica hamata). Perhaps it was more popular with the officer and cavalry staff. It was used by the armies of the ancient world for a long time. The earliest in the east, already in the 17th century, it was used by Egyptians, Assyrians and nomadic peoples such as the Scythians and Sarmatians.

The rounded scales at the bottom were made of bronze or iron. They were small, on average 2 by 1.2 cm or 1.5 by 1 cm. They had holes at the top, which were used to connect individual tiles into rows with a wire, and then the finished rows of scales were attached to the leather or fabric substrate. They were arranged in such a way that they overlapped alternately. The armor could have a collar variant like hamata.

A simple squamata could have been made by less skilled artisans. It could be easily repaired even by a soldier and most importantly was less expensive than hamata. Its relatively low popularity among the Romans was due to the fact that squamata was not as flexible and resistant as chain mail. Chainmail was also slightly lighter than the shell. squamata armor protected against both cuts and thrusts.

Scales – lorica squamata
Creative Commons Attribution license - On the same terms 3.0.

Lorica squamata, compared to lorica hamata, had better defense against ranged weapons. Such conclusions can be drawn, for example, from late Roman artistic representations – squamata was more often used in the east, where archery was well developed. In the west, chain mail was dominant, as the barbarians used archers to a lesser extent.

Under squamata a caftan was often put on, to which wool and linen belts called pteruges were attached, arranged in 3-4 layers and overlapping each other. Pteruges protected the lower abdomen, thighs and shoulders.

Sources
  • Stowarzyszenie Pro Antica
  • Simkins Michael, The Roman Army from Caesar to Trajan
  • Warry John, Armie świata antycznego, Warszawa 1995
  • Żygulski Zdzisław, Broń Starożytna

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