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"Late Imperial Roman armor ?" Topic

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1,053 hits since 12 Aug 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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JAFD2612 Aug 2017 4:08 p.m. PST

Salutations, gentlefolk !

Took advantage of the 'free airmail postage' sale at Alternative Armies to order 17 (1) of their 'Late Roman Legionary' (pic at link ) (2)

You'll note that figure seems to be wearing 'muscle-cuirass-breastplate' armor. So I am wondering what the authorities on that subject and period think, these days, that that armor is made of.

Bronze (high-copper alloy, reddish tone)
Bronze (high-tin alloy, golden tone)
Leather (in 'natural' browns)
Any of the above, painted (and what the paint color is)
Kevlar (3)

Your thoughts on the subject – and links to evidence – are invited.

Thanks, very much, for whatever help you can give me with this.

(1) 2 8-figure units and a 'baker's dozen' in case one is miscast or lost or… If not needed, craft stores have wooden 'plaque' bases, at reasonable prices. Can paint and mount and tell friend "I always thot you could use a personal bodyguard, so I recruited one for you…"

(2) Lots of 'Late Roman Legionary' figures around – ordered TTG's because he's 'heading to the fight', not 'standing around waiting for orders'

(3) In the 'upcoming' HBO series based on L. Sprague de Camp's _Lest Darkness Fall_ (4)

(4) I met Mr. de Camp a few times. He was an 'old-school' gentleman and scholar. There are few of his mettle around these days. Read his books, you should.

gavandjosh0212 Aug 2017 4:29 p.m. PST

That style of armour is generally discounted these days. The current and popular theory has armoured troops in mail or scale. However, I have figures in that style and have gone with leather.

dragon612 Aug 2017 5:07 p.m. PST

As gavandjosh02 wrote. I too would paint them in leather

CATenWolde Inactive Member13 Aug 2017 2:34 a.m. PST

Yep. The figure depicts a sort of leather cuirass that was thought to have been introduced during the period, worn over a linen/cotton subarmalia (an undercoat, so the "flaps" on the shoulders would be white).

This is now generally discounted, being based on a misunderstanding of artistic canon and the realities of what "hardened leather armor" actually is.

However, belief in this type of armor hasn't died out entirely – at least one recent Osprey features it in several illustrations.

Personal logo Swampster Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2017 1:20 a.m. PST

"However, belief in this type of armor hasn't died out entirely at least one recent Osprey features it in several illustrations."

Raffaele D'Amato in particular is in favour of moderatley flexible leather or linen armour being used right through the period. This is from his interpretation of things like creases and what he interprets as hems and seams shown in sculpture. D'Amato has produced quite a few books in the last few years for Osprey and other publishers.

goragrad14 Aug 2017 1:25 p.m. PST

I painted mine as metal (rather as H. R. Robinson noted in his opus as being what the ancients did with their statuary).

I am considering it mail with links too fine to be accurately portrayed on the figure.

I have done the same with my OG15 and will do the same with my older Essex figures that have the same armor – their newer LIR infantry are in mail.

Insofar as D'Amato I find Robinson's arguments more persuasive and the Italian fascination with leather armor rather odd. I have also sliced quite easily through the side of a boot with an exacto knife – if leather is thin enough and flexible enough to have folds (as noted by Robinson) it is of little use as armor…

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