You Say “Lorica,” I Say “Segmentata”

When in Rome… suit up as the Romans suit up. If you were a soldier between 9 B.C. to the 3rd century A.D., you might have been donning the Lorica Segmentata. To put it simply, “Lorica” is Latin for “armor” and “Segmentata” means “segmented.” (There’s a linguistic shocker!)

This style was a Roman invention made up of four segments connected by leather straps. Two sections covered the shoulders and two covered each side of the torso. Each segment was composed of several iron bands.

Lorica Segmentata

Corbridge "B" Lorica Segmentata from Deepeeka

Originally, brass hinges connected these plates, but around 75-80 A.D., these hinges were replaced with simple rivets. The three variations of this armor are called the Kalkriese, Corbridge, and Newstead types – all named after the places they were excavated.

Trajan’s Column in Rome, a monument built in 113 A.D. to celebrate the conquest of Dacia, actually depicts soldiers wearing the Lorica Segmentata . Some historical sources have suggested that only legionaries, professional Roman infantrymen, wore this armor into battle.

Roman Soldiers In Battle

Ancient Monument Depicting Soldiers with Lorica Segmetata

However, it’s largely debated whether the Lorica Segmentata would have been widely-used due to various downsides to this design. It is also historically uncertain whether the Romans were aware of the helpfulness of Pro-Con lists, but if they were, this may have been what they discovered:

PROS to Lorica Segmentata

  • More flexible and lightweight compared to older styles of armor (like the Lorica Hamata – chainmail cuirass)
  • More protective against slashing and piercing weapons than chainmail
  • Compact for storage – since the four sections could be separated and stacked
  • Easier to manufacture than other popular forms of armor
  • Cool millipede-skin look

CONS to Lorica Segmentata

  • Expensive to make
  • Difficult maintenance – particularly vulnerable to attrition and corrosion
  • Millipede-haters from foreign armies might make fun of you

By the 4th century, the Lorica Segmentata had disappeared from Roman use, but it lives on in the hearts of aspiring Roman legionaries everywhere… or rather as a protective covering strapped over their hearts. Minor difference.

Show your love for the Segmentata today:

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