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Lorica hamata

Евсеенков А.С.

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Lorica Hamata, "armor with hooks", from Lat. hamus - "hook") — ancient Roman armor of chain mail type. It was one of the most common types of armor in the Roman army and was in service for the longest time — more than 6 centuries.

Lorica Hamata was made mainly of iron or bronze alloys. The rings were held together by more than just mixing: rows of flat, closed rings were intertwined with rows of riveted rings. This made it possible to create armor with good operational properties — quite strong and flexible. The rings had an inner diameter of 5 mm and an outer diameter of 7 mm. The diameter of the wire itself, from which the rings were made, was about 1.7 mm. It took several thousand rings to create one such armor!

Additional chain armor plates attached to brass hooks could also protect the warrior's shoulders. They vaguely resembled the Greek linothorax, which was also attached to the front and back with bronze or iron hooks. Lorica hamata in its length could reach up to the middle of the thighs, its weight was 10-12 kg. For convenience and improvement of protective properties, a poddospeshnik —subarmalis was worn under the hamata . The main advantages of the hamata lorica over the segmenata lorica were the greater comfort of wearing and greater mobility of a legionnaire in armor, but its defensive qualities were not so good.

Fragment of the Roman lorica hamata. Saalburg Museum, Germany. 1st century AD
Hooks from Lorica Hamata (6,2 - 7 - 6,3 see). Courtesy Vindonissa Museum-Brugg-CH. 1-2 century AD
Lorica hamata. Roman fort and Museum of Cortesia Arbeia. 1-2 century AD

History

There is a version that chain armor appeared in the east, and it is also possible that they were invented in several places by different peoples independently of each other. Lorica hamata in its usual form, with shoulder straps, was actively used by the Celts, and the Celtic civilization became the main source of distribution of hamata in the ancient world.

Celtic chain mail appears in the 4th-3rd century BC. e. This is indicated by numerous archaeological finds of fragments of chain mail, as well as their ancient images. Thanks to the good preservation of individual statues, today we can clearly imagine how the Celtic warriors looked in general, and the mail themselves in particular. The Celtic chain mail was a rectangle without sleeves, with holes for the arms and head, up to the middle of the thigh. There was also a separate pad for strengthening the shoulders. In addition to the standard riveted-cross-section rings already for Rome, there are fragments of reduced chain mail. However, the poor protective properties and low reliability of the combined chain mail suggests that they were used for ritual purposes.

Chain mail from the burial of a Celtic chieftain in Ciumesti, Romania. Mid-3rd century BC
Celtic shields and chain mail are depicted in a bas-relief from Pergamon, 2-1 century BC.
Statue of the Gallic warrior "Guerrier de Vacheres" in Hamat with clasps. Calvert - Avignon-F Museum. 1st century BC

In many ways, the Celtic civilization was more advanced than the Roman one. The Romans actively adopted the experience of more developed peoples, and among other technologies borrowed from the Celts chain armor. During the Republic era, the lorica hamata became the most popular armor in the Roman army.

Hamata was also widespread among Roman army officers. There is information about its use by centurions and representatives of the banner group. It could also be used by junior officers, whose equipment was indistinguishable from ordinary legionnaires.

Legionnaire in hamat. Tombstone of legionnaire Gaius Valerius Crispus, who served in the VIII Augustan Legion. Wiesbaden. First half of the first century AD
Centurion, according to one version in Lorica hamata. Tombstone of Marcus Favonius Facilis of the XX (Valeria Victrix) Valerian Victorious Legion. Colchester. Colchester and Essex Museum. 1st century AD (43-50 AD)
Legionnaire in hamat. Bas-relief from Adamklisi, early 2nd century AD

In the era of the early Empire, in addition to hamata, other types of armor are actively used- lorica segmentata and lorica squamata, which have better protective properties when receiving piercing blows. Also, the hamata itself is divided into several subspecies: in addition to the classic hamata, a shortened lorica hamata appears up to the waist, without separate shoulder pads. Due to its flexibility and simplicity, it gained great popularity in the auxilia and Roman cavalry. Thanks to the segmental-ring structure, armor damaged in battle could be restored simply with the help of spare rings.

Sometimes the Romans "signed" their lorica hamata, as well as other utensils. For example, on one of the hooks of a hamata found in Germany, data about a legionnaire is written: M. Aii (cohorte) I (prima) > (centuria) Fab(richii) e M. Aius (cohorte) I (prima) (centuria) Fabrici(i). Today, this archaeological find is kept in the Kalkrize Museum. In addition, the hooks were decorated with engraving and chasing, and their ends could be made in the form of snakes and other animals.

During the decline of the Roman Empire, the production of segmentata was discontinued due to the crisis of the craft itself, and hamata again became the most common armor in the Roman army.

Hamat auxilarium without shoulder straps. Trajan's column. Early 2nd century AD
Cavalryman in hamata without shoulder straps. Trajan's column. Early 2nd century AD
Hamat auxilarium without shoulder straps. Trajan's column. Early 2nd century AD

Reconstruction

The lorica hamata was worn by legionnaires, auxiliaries, centurions, standard bearers, and cavalrymen. Armor was made of iron, but some parts, such as hooks, were cast from bronze alloys. The inner diameter of the ring of chain mail was from 0.5 to 0.7 cm (0.6 cm is the most common), the hamata weave itself was riveted and cut. Legionnaires both in the 1st century and at the beginning of the 2nd century AD additionally strengthened the protection of the shoulders, and at the beginning of the 2nd century the legionary hamata could not have shoulders. Auxiliaries used hamata without additional shoulder pads.

Legionnaire of the early 2nd century in Hamat, reconstruction
Hamat Auxilarium of the early 2nd century, reconstruction
Celt in chain armor, 1st century BC, reconstruction

Related topics

Auxiliaries, Legionnaire, Centurion, Lorica Segmentata, Subarmalis, Ala, Linothorax, The Celts

Gallery-Roman Finds

Several riveted hamata rings. Cortesia Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum - Mainz-D. 1st century AD
Fragment of lorica hamata with gilded rings. Courtesy Vindonissa Museum-Brugg-CH. 1-2 century AD
Lorica hamata. Roman fort and Museum of Cortesia Arbeia. 1-2 century AD
Fragments of Lorica hamata. Zagreb Archaeological Museum. 1st century AD
Fragments of Lorica hamata. Zagreb Archaeological Museum. 1st century AD
Fragment of hamata from Aalen (Germany). Presumably it belonged to a cavalryman. Limesmuseum Aalen - Aalen-D. 1st century AD
Hook from lorica hamata. Cortez Museum (Kalkriese Lost and Found Park). 1st century AD
Hook from lorica hamata. Cortez Museum (Kalkriese Lost and Found Park). 1st century AD
Hooks from Lorica hamata. Cortez Museum (Kalkriese Lost and Found Park). Late 1st century BC-Early 1st century AD
Hooks from Lorica hamata.(4.5 cm and 5.1 cm). Karnuntinum Archaeological Museum. 1-2 century AD
Fragments of Lorik, Archäologische Staatssammlung, Munich. 3rd century AD
Hook from lorica hamata. Cortez Museum (Kalkriese Lost and Found Park). 1st century AD
Fragment of a hook from hamata. Bronze. 6.5 *1.1 cm, thickness-0.9 mm. 1st century AD (presumably 75 AD)
Fragment of a hook from hamata. Bronze. 6.5 *1.1 cm, thickness-0.9 mm. 1st century AD (presumably 75 AD)
Hook from hamata. Bronze. 6.5 *1.1 cm, thickness-0.9 mm. 1st century AD (presumably 75 AD)
Fragment of a hook from hamata. Bronze. 6.5 *1.1 cm, thickness-0.9 mm. 1st century AD (presumably 75 AD)
Hook from hamata. Bronze. 5.5 *1.0 cm 1-2 century AD
Hook from hamata. Bronze. 5.5 *1.0 cm. 1st century AD (presumably 75 AD)
Fragment of a hook from hamata. Bronze. 6.5 *1.1 cm, thickness-0.9 mm. 1st century AD (presumably 75 AD)
Hook from hamata. Bronze. 6.5 *1.1 cm, thickness-0.9 mm. 1st century AD (presumably 75 AD)
Hook from hamata. Bronze. 5.5 *1.0 cm 1-2 century AD

Gallery-Celtic Finds

Celtic warriors in chain mail on a golden jug from Mogilan Tumul in Vratsa (Lovech region). 2-1 century BC
Celtic warrior in chain mail, depicted on the application of the treasure of Letnica. 2-1 century BC
Statue of the Gallic warrior "Guerrier de Vacheres" in Hamat with clasps. Calvert - Avignon-F Museum. 1st century BC
Bronze statuette of a warrior in lorik hamat. 4th-2nd century BC
Bronze jewelry for chain mail. Ciumesti, Romania. 2-1 century BC
Fragments of Celtic chain mail from northwestern Bulgaria: 1. Varbeschnitsa 2. Vratsa. 3-2 century BC