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Евсеенков А.С.

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Focale (Latin: focale) - a Roman neckband that was designed to cushion armor and protect the neck from chafing. Perhaps focale also served as an element of antique fashion or was used for insulation in harsh weather conditions. This can be confirmed by the bas-relief, which shows a working Apinosus in a long scarf. This suggests that this item of clothing was used not only by legionnaires and auxiliaries, but also by military officers and ordinary residents of Ancient Rome.

Focale was made of wool or linen fabric. At the ends, the fabric could be loosened, which is clearly visible in the bas-relief with an Apinosus (folds at the ends are more common). There were several types of focales that differed in the style of wearing. To dampen the armor, they most likely used wide foci, which peeked out from under the armor in a small, even layer. At the same time, a sufficient layer of fabric was on the shoulders and reduced the load from the armor. Narrower focales could be used for decorative purposes or to protect the neck from the cold. In this case, the fabric was tied in a knot like a tie, or wrapped several times around the neck, like modern scarves. It should also be noted that judging by the bas-reliefs, the focale was not an obligatory element of clothing, and Roman soldiers and artisans could do without it at all.

Roman tombstone with a craftsman in the basement. Nievre, France. Inv. No. 52733. 2nd century AD
Tombstone of the flag bearer auxilarius Tib. Iulius Pancuius with focale of the Lusitanorum cohort (Neuss-Grimlinghausen). Inv. Nr. R 5017. 1-2 century AD
Auxiliaries with Phocale from Trajan's column, early 2nd century AD

The fokale pattern has no distinctive features and is a rectangle, so the small fragments of fabric found cannot be identified as fokale. When studying this item of clothing, you should rely exclusively on visual sources.


As a material, you should take wool or flax. Wool is preferable, as it is more wear-resistant, and the focus will be exposed to rather harsh operating conditions. If you are going to use it to amortize the armor, then you should take a wider pattern so that it goes to the shoulders, and fasten the ends with a fibula . At the ends of the focale, you can dissolve the fringe for additional decoration. If you want to make a knot or wrap a focus around your neck, then you should take a narrower and longer piece of fabric.

Legionnaire with hamata in focala, reconstruction
Legionnaire with segmentata in focus, reconstruction
Auxilarium with hamata in fokala, reconstruction

Related topics

Legionnaire, Auxiliaries, Fibula