Lorica segmentata (Latin: lorica segmentata, segmented lorica) is an armor made of metal segments that protects the torso and partially the shoulders. It was used in the Roman army from about the end of the Republic to the 3rd century AD.
The main difference between the lorica segmentata and other armor of the Roman army is that the armor consists of iron segments (which is reflected in the name), fastened in pairs with leather belts on the chest and back. This design forms a hoop that protects the legionnaire's torso. Additional plates were used to protect the shoulders and upper back. The segments were held together with hooks, straps, or buckles.
The original Roman name of this armor is unknown. The name "Lorica segmentata" was given by the first explorers of Ancient Rome in the Victorian era. There is also the term Lorica Laminata, but it is not recognized by all historians, since this term is based on the morphology of the Latin word Lamina (sheet metal). Critics of this name refer to one well-known mention of the word Lamina in a military sense, in the Berlin papyrus, which is the report of a legionnaire (probably Trajan's II Dauntless Legion).
Lorica segmentata was easy to store and transport, as it was easily disassembled and folded. During excavations at the Roman fort Corbridge, archaeologists found a wooden box. Inside it were armor segments, scorpion bolts , sword scabbards, and spearheads tied together with rope. The box was probably hidden by the legion hastily leaving the fort.
The weight of the segmentata was about 9 kg, which was significantly less than the weight of the traditional Roman long chain mail with shoulder pads (10-14 kg). At the same time, this armor provided the maximum possible protection of the body from all types of piercing, chopping, crushing and throwing weapons.
Modern experiments show that even a dart fired from a small catapult (scorpion) is not able to completely penetrate the exact copy of the lorica segmentata and deliver a fatal blow to the legionnaire. However, the disadvantage of this armor can be considered a complete lack of protection for the lower part of the body. Part of this problem was solved by a military belt- cingulum with a wide "apron" of 4-8 leather suspensory belts, upholstered with metal rivets, covering the groin of legionnaires. But such protection was rather symbolic and did not protect against direct stabbing blows, unlike the segmentata itself.
Segmental type armor was known before the Roman period. So, as an example, we can cite the armor from the Arboretum, dating from the Mycenaean era (XV-th century BC). As you can see, the lower part of the armor consists of segmental hoops that expand downwards, the top is a pot-shaped cuirass with attached shoulder pads on the sides. Such a design protects well, but it deprives the warrior of mobility on the battlefield, unlike the lorica segmentata,which is much less constraining to move.
Also worth mentioning is the use of segmentata by krupelarii, who are mentioned by Tacitus, who describes Krupelarii as gladiators recruited from Gaulish slaves and equipped in the tradition of warriors of Lugdunian Gaul. They took part in the Trever rebellion led by Florus and Sacrovir in AD 21.
On Trajan's column, you can also find images of segmental armor from the Sarmatian tribes. This indicates that other peoples have armor of a similar type, but different structures.
There is a theory that the creation of segmental armor of the Romans was inspired by the Hellenic type of armor, the image of which can be found in the golden house of Nero.
Historians associate the appearance of the segmentata in the Roman army with the Germanic Wars (12 BC - 12 AD) of the Emperor Octavian Augustus, when it became necessary to provide better protection for the torso of legionnaires in battles with German tribes. The earliest fragments of the Lorica segmentata were found by archaeologists at the battle site in the Teutoburg Forest (9 AD) and belong to the Kalkrize type.
Throughout the history of Rome, the segmentata has been repeatedly modified. Leather fasteners in the form of a system of belts and laces were gradually replaced by metal studs and pins, which increased the reliability of the design and at the same time simplified the manufacture and maintenance of armor. There are several most common types of segmentation based on archaeological sites:
The Kalkriese-type lorica segmentata is considered the earliest type of this armor (12 BC-50 AD). It was found on the Kalkriese Hill near Osnabrück, Germany. One of the key features of segmentata is the presence of brass edging around the perimeter of metal plates. To this day, it has not been completely preserved, but only individual elements: the chest plate and fasteners.
In 2020, archaeologists found a full suit of armor. Despite the poor preservation conditions due to the sand and high acidity of the soil in Kalkriz, the armor is in good condition. Bronze loops, buckles, and other fasteners are visible and recognizable. Even organic materials, such as leftover leather, are present in a small volume. The uniqueness of the find lies not only in its good preservation, but also in the fact that the found segmentata is in the form of a vest and does not have shoulder pads compared to later types.
The Cobridge type (40 A.D. — 120 A.D.) is the most well-studied, as two well-preserved lorics were found in 1964 in the town of Corbridge near Hadrian's Wall. This discovery made it possible to refine the design of the armor, previously known only by individual elements and images. The found segmentates differ in the device of fastenings, so there are two types A and B. Type A is characterized by fastening the bib with a strap on loops.
Another type of segmentata found, Corbridge B, is characterized by attaching the breastplate with hooks. Otherwise, it practically does not differ from type A.
Newstead is the latest type of segmentata (110 AD-250 AD). The design is much simplified compared to Corbridge, which is most likely due to optimization of production. The number of brass ornaments is reduced to a minimum, and the fastening of the chest plates between each other is carried out using conventional latches. This armor was found in the early 20th century in Newstead.
The lorica segmentata was used only by legionaries and Praetorians in the Roman army. Moreover , centurions or legates did not wear such armor at all (there are no surviving images from bas-reliefs). Auxiliary troops and cavalry wore the hamata lorica (chain mail) and squamata lorica (scale armor).
In the IV century AD, the Lorica segmentata was removed from service by the Roman army. Vegetius points out that this happened in the reign of Gratian, noting with regret that modern Roman infantrymen go into battle without armor or even a helmet. Historians often attribute this to the general decline of the Roman Empire, as well as the strong barbarization of the army.
The main period of reconstruction of our club is the middle of the first century-the beginning of the second century (50-125 years). Accordingly, the Corbridge type is best suited for the earlier type of legionnaire, and the Newstead type is best suited for the later type (early second century). The main materials required for its production are iron, brass (bronze), leather, and rivets.