Lorica Hamata vs Lorica Segmentata

Which type of armour do you think was the best?

  • Lorica Hamata

    Votes: 28 45.2%
  • Lorica Segmentata

    Votes: 34 54.8%

  • Total voters
    62

Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
2,968
MD, USA
Geez, I sure hope we get another 16 pages of misconceptions and opinionated hair-splitting... (NOT to be sounding like I'm picking on you in particular, HiperToast! You're just the one who had to kick the hornet nest!)

I think the segmentata is better, The Hamata may have better mobility, but the Segmentata is stronger and also has some mobility, but in case of resistance is much better the Lorica Musculata but is very uncomfortable, something heavy and has bad mobility.
Yes, you can't beat mail for flexibility and comfort! The AIR goes through it--can't tell you how much that counts, when wearing armor in warm weather. Blunt trauma simply was not a significant concern in an era of spears, javelins, and arrows, and mail is perfectly good protection against all of those. So you don't need padding under it (a little at the shoulders is nice). Plus padding will negate many of mail's advantages. Why spoil a good thing?

I love my segmentata! It soaks up all kinds of weapon abuse. But most of the hinges have broken over the years, plus all the vertical hooks, the buckles, and several of the leathers. Throw a segmentata across the room, kick it, stomp on it for a minute--the result is a scattered mess of twisted scrap metal and torn leather, you won't even be able to fix it. Now do the same with a shirt of mail, and all it will do is get a little cleaner. Granted, *most* soldiers won't do this to their armor, but...

Now drop a segmentata on a shelf in a Roman storage room and come back in 6 months. It may be rusty, depending on whether it was greased or oiled before storage, but probably mice and rats will have eaten the leather. Now throw a hamata in a barrel with some oily straw, and leave it for 20 years. Pull it out and issue it, good to go.

Basically, the needs and requirements for armor depended wildly, depending on whether you were a government, an armor contractor, a repair worker, an officer, or a grunt in the ranks. Perfect protection was rarely at the top of the list.

I've made 4 bronze cuirasses, and in spite of them not fitting really well (because I'm not a trained armorer), they are basically pretty comfortable and I have good movement. They are also much lighter than my segmentata (9 or 10 pounds versus 15) or any mailshirt I own. Bronze cuirasses developed for use by aristocratic warriors, who were very concerned with having expensive armor that looked good. It was also as protective as it could be. Their needs were very different from an imperialistic superpower that needed to keep a quarter-million men armored.

I'm still baffled by the idea that wrought iron is "soft" or makes bad armor. It was still very common for armor in the 17th century...

I probably shouldn't have bothered chiming in, but oh, well! Let the games re-commence.

Matthew
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,749
USA
[QUOTE="Matthew Amt, post: 3140856, member: 32952"
I've made 4 bronze cuirasses, and in spite of them not fitting really well (because I'm not a trained armorer), they are basically pretty comfortable and I have good movement. They are also much lighter than my segmentata (9 or 10 pounds versus 15) or any mailshirt I own. Bronze cuirasses developed for use by aristocratic warriors, who were very concerned with having expensive armor that looked good. It was also as protective as it could be. Their needs were very different from an imperialistic superpower that needed to keep a quarter-million men armored.[/QUOTE]

How form fitting is musculata? Is it something you can just pick up and put on? Or is it very specific to torso height, chest width, waistline, etc?
 
Sep 2017
757
United States
I think one field where nobody can doubt the Segmentata's supremacy is the aesthetic factor, probably its #1 reason for being so popular. It looks absolutely amazing.

If the Hamata was overall better though, as I am gathering, how come Segmentata was used at all? And in significant enough number for it to survive?

What do people who have both say about it in terms of comfort and such?
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,749
USA
If the Hamata was overall better though, as I am gathering, how come Segmentata was used at all?
Cheaper to make. New tech allowed them to bang out a large number of plates. Take number of plates, attach them together with rivets, buckles and leather. Far cheaper than drawing wire and cutting into rings, and punching other rings from plate, and connecting about 20-50,000 of them into a single shirt of mail.
 

Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
2,968
MD, USA
How form fitting is musculata? Is it something you can just pick up and put on? Or is it very specific to torso height, chest width, waistline, etc?
It has to basically fit you in height, width, general shape. And I would assume that the best ones were custom-made to be as good a fit as possible. BUT I don't think they had to be skin-tight or a perfect fit. If it's too small around, or too long in the torso, or too tight around the neck, yeah, that's a problem. Otherwise, is it likely you could wear a cuirass made for someone else about the same size? Sure!

Matthew
 
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Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
2,968
MD, USA
I think one field where nobody can doubt the Segmentata's supremacy is the aesthetic factor, probably its #1 reason for being so popular. It looks absolutely amazing.
Shiny armor was an advantage, and a definite goal to be striven for. I would also say that all those rotten, fragile little brass hinges and fittings were considered more of a good thing to the *officers* than they were to the men--you can always keep a soldier busy by sending him back to the barracks to polish his brass.

If the Hamata was overall better though, as I am gathering, how come Segmentata was used at all? And in significant enough number for it to survive?
I'm a little leery about ascribing it all to cost and ease of manufacture. For one thing, it was a slave economy, making mail VERY cheap to produce with relatively few skilled steps. And all those hinges and other brass fittings in a segmentata? There are about a thousand ways to build that armor in a stronger and more efficient way for a lot less effort. Yet the darn thing got MORE ornate over the years, not less. We simply do not know why it appeared when it did. But it was certainly effective armor, and just the fact that it weighed a few pounds less than a longer mailshirt would make it attractive to the troops.

What do people who have both say about it in terms of comfort and such?
You'll hear every possible argument from reenactors. One problem is that most of our experiences are based on poorly-fit "Made in India" reproductions. Even the mail won't be quite as good as what the Romans had in terms of fit and weight. Too much depends on extremely subtle variations in metal thickness, etc.

But I strongly suspect you'd get almost exactly the same range of reactions and answers from the guys who actually wore the stuff in war 2000 years ago. Some would swear that their segmentatas were the best armor ever, others would deride it as fragile trash and too hot and stuffy, and would never be parted from their mail.

None of them would even think of doing comparative penetration tests with a Dacian falx. Sorry. It just wouldn't occur to them. "Um, it's ARMOR. Wear it or don't!"

Matthew
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,772
Australia
How form fitting is musculata? Is it something you can just pick up and put on? Or is it very specific to torso height, chest width, waistline, etc?
There is no real waistline with a musculata because they aren't anatomically proportional. They stop at the midriff, where the waistline begins, just like all cuirasses. The navel on the musculata is located a couple of inches higher than the navel on the wearer.
 
Last edited:

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,772
Australia
It has to basically fit you in height, width, general shape. And I would assume that the best ones were custom-made to be as good a fit as possible. BUT I don't think they had to be skin-tight or a perfect fit. If it's too small around, or too long in the torso, or too tight around the neck, yeah, that's a problem. Otherwise, is it likely you could wear a cuirass made for someone else about the same size? Sure!
On top of Matt's observations, keep in mind that half of the Roman army wasn't obese like modern re-enactors and height was more uniform compared to today. Their armour had to fit a much smaller range of body sizes.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,749
USA
There is no real waistline with a musculata because they aren't anatomically proportional. They stop at the midriff, where the waistline begins, just like all cuirasses. The navel on the musculata is located a couple of inches higher than the navel on the wearer.
I mean stomach/gut above bellybutton measurement. Not even meaning fat, I know a few musclebound guys who have 36 inch waist with six pack abs when they flex. Compare that to a rail thin guy with a shallow chest and 27 inch waist, I can't imagine same musculata fitting both well.