Manica — a type of additional protective element of ancient Roman armor, consisting of several segments of metal elements. The appearance and protective properties of manica are similar to lorica segmentata, just because of the segmental structure. The name of the word manica comes from the Latin manus ("hand") and literally means"sleeve".
The first mention of plates for protecting the hands is given by Xenophon, who describes horsemen of the V-IV centuries BC. Instead of a shield, they wore a composite wrist brace (Greek :εείρ). In the city temple of Athena of Pergamum, there are images of armlets, fragments of which were found during further excavations. Similar protection of the hands was mentioned among the Saks, in the Kushan and Parthian states. There are finds in Khalchayan (Uzbekistan), and Taxila (Pakistan). Another segmental bracelet was found in Ai-Khanum (Afghanistan), which dates back to the middle of the second century AD. Like Roman manikins, it has a broadened shoulder plate and 35 overlapping curved plates of a smaller size that overlap. These findings are described in more detail in the book M. C. Bishop. Lorica Segmentata Volume I: A Handbook of Articulated Roman Plate Armour. - Armatura Press (pp. 18-21). From later sources, the segmented protection of the hands of other peoples can be attributed to Trajan's column, which depicts Sarmatian armor.
Historians believe that in Ancient Rome, manics came from gladiators, who, because of the specific technique of fighting, were particularly important to protect the leading hand with weapons. It is also often mentioned that the largest role in the appearance of manicas in the Roman army was played by krupelarii - heavily armed gladiators of Gali origin. In the future, they are widely used in the Roman army during the Dacian wars, as a necessary protection against the chopping blows of sickle - shaped falx swords. However, due to the fact that archaeological finds are located throughout the Roman Empire, it should be concluded that they were used not only against the Dacians.
Also worth noting is another find that can also be attributed to the protection of the hands and in some way the progenitor of manica-a scaly glove with a bas-relief from Civita Castellana (Ital. Civita Castellana, Lazio region, Vitsebro, Italy). The bas-relief is not fully preserved, and it is difficult to say exactly how much of the arm it covered. But nevertheless, it is safe to say that this is a subspecies of scaly defense. Most likely, it was a special officer's equipment, as indicated by a scaly armor from the same bas-relief with reinforced shoulders and tied with an officer's cloth belt (Lat. - cincticulus). Historians give a fairly broad dating of this bas-relief-from the 1st century BC, to the beginning of the 2nd century. It should be noted that during this period, the equipment in the Roman army changed especially strongly, and in style it is more typical of the Republican traditions of military affairs. However, there are other examples of several archaic elements of equipment from the 1st century AD - a mosaic with a Praetorian guard or the tombstone of Centurion Marcus Favonius Facilis from the XX Legion, whose armor is sometimes interpreted as a linothorax. This suggests that this version may also be correct.
There is evidence that manica began to be used in the Roman army in 43-70 AD. e. This is indicated by drawings from the tombstones of Sextus Valerus Severus, Gaius Annius Salutus-legionnaires of Legio XXII Primigenia from Mainz. On the tombstones, manika is depicted in the form of superimposed plates. At the same time, Manik Severus can be identified with eleven plates on the arm and four plates on the hand. Interestingly, part of the bas-relief can be interpreted as a separation of the protection of the phalanx of the fingers and the thumb.
There are not so many archaeological finds. There are several items that were not immediately identified as fake. The first was found in Carnuntum, a Roman military camp at the intersection of the Amber Road and the Danube. This manica was made of copper plates. The second manica was found in Newstead. It was originally erroneously described by Robinson as a hip protector, most likely due to a lack of preserved plates.
There is also manica from Carlisle. It is the most complete iron plate found, and its plates reach up to the hand. X-ray analysis showed that by the end of it, it should almost completely protect the arm.
Perhaps in the Roman Empire there were several subspecies of manicas according to the degree of protection of the hand. Most likely, they varied in their height and length, going differently to the hand and shoulder, and there was some customization for the owner and his main armor. Nevertheless, we can distinguish such common features as the overlapping position of the manik plates, the lack of complete closure around the arm, and the widened upper plate.
In Rome, at first manikas appeared just for gladiators, as they were extremely necessary for them due to the specific conditions of combat. Unlike the legionnaires, there were many more possible options for its variety. In addition to metal, there was also a fabric variety, similar in many ways to quilted armor. Sometimes another one was put on over the fabric manikin-already metal. The main advantage of this type was the ability to close the hand completely from all sides, which, given the lack of combat in the ranks, was especially important. Manikas were also distinguished by their wide plate. There were options, as in legionnaires - not much broadened shoulder plate nedododayuschaya to the very top, and in general an oval plate in the entire shoulder. Sometimes the last plate was not just widened, but even had a shape extending over the shoulder in height - especially often this type of manica was used by retiarii. It should be noted 2 more types of gladiator manica, which are absent in legionnaires: chain mail and scaly.
Such an element as manica was observed in the following types of gladiators: provocateur, retiarius, murmilon, secutor, hoplomachus, Thracian, krupelarius, which indicates the incredible prevalence of this element of protective equipment in gladiatorial games.
There are many types of manikas, and you need to make your choice depending on the reconstructed image. For legionnaires, the choice is already iron or brass (bronze), and its exclusively segmental appearance. In addition, if the reconstructed period is earlier than the middle of the first century AD, then the possibility of using this element of protective equipment for legionnaires is called into question. Gladiators don't have such dating problems. Moreover, the variety is much greater - fabric, chain mail, and scaly manikas are also added to these types of manikas.
M. C. Bishop. Lorica Segmentata Volume I: A Handbook of Articulated Roman Plate Armour. — Armatura Press, 2002. (English)
Connolly P. Greece and Rome. Encyclopedia of Military History / Translated by S. Lopukhov, A. Khromov.. - "Eksmo-Press". Moscow, 2000.