Roman Legions During Gallic Wars

-Peter-

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Wondering if anyone has some insight in to the equipment the Legionaries will have worn around the beginning. I read the other day that bronze was still used at that point for the lorica hamata, but can't remember where I read it.

Just trying to build a bit of picture, as I'm struggling to find anything that goes in to depth about the equipment and not just focusing on the events.

Any links or any recommendations for books would be great too.
 

hruza

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Do you mean Caesar's Galic wars, sacking of Rome by Gauls or do you mean Roman conquest of Cisalpine Gaul?
 

hruza

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So called "Altar of Domitius Ahenobarbus" (currently in museum of Louvre, France and Munich, Germany). About 100 BC so close to Ceasars Galic campaign:







And now in contemporary reconstruction:







 

-Peter-

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hruza said:
So called "Altar of Domitius Ahenobarbus" (currently in museum of Louvre, France and Munich, Germany). About 100 BC so close to Ceasars Galic campaign:







And now in contemporary reconstruction:







Brilliant, thanks for this.
 

matmohair1

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:wink: hope this helps...












Plates and Text














































An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Uniforms of the Roman World









L'armée de César pendant la Guerre des Gaules





-Peter- said:
I read the other day that bronze was still used at that point for the lorica hamata, but can't remember where I read it.
:arrow: http://rubens.anu.edu.au/raid1/student_projects97/armour/mail/mail.html

:arrow: http://www.erikds.com/pdf/tmrs_pdf_29.pdf

:arrow: https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/43592/was-bronze-ever-used-for-chainmail/43658

Bronze mail fragment, Lunt Fort, Bagington, Warwickshire

 

DanAngleland

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It never occurred to me that they would use bronze for maille, I would have thought it would all be iron, since they had the technology.
 

-Peter-

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matmohair1 said:
:wink: hope this helps...












Plates and Text














































An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Uniforms of the Roman World









L'armée de César pendant la Guerre des Gaules





-Peter- said:
I read the other day that bronze was still used at that point for the lorica hamata, but can't remember where I read it.
:arrow: http://rubens.anu.edu.au/raid1/student_projects97/armour/mail/mail.html

:arrow: http://www.erikds.com/pdf/tmrs_pdf_29.pdf

:arrow: https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/43592/was-bronze-ever-used-for-chainmail/43658

Bronze mail fragment, Lunt Fort, Bagington, Warwickshire

Absolutely fantastic, really appreciate this!
 

Danath

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DanAngleland said:
It never occurred to me that they would use bronze for maille, I would have thought it would all be iron, since they had the technology.
matmohair1 said:
Even the Wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorica_hamata links to that pdf as source for use of bronze in roman chain mail, but what the pdf is saying is that those links were probably added to the iron mail for decoration, or were merely regalia, not practical armor. Nothing there is saying that there is proof of purely bronze chain mail in that era
The bronze links in this Woodeaton piece are simple rings of thin bronze[...] Similar bronze links have been found attached to iron chain fabric as bordering or for attachment of ornaments[...]parts of bronze chain regalia, made up of butted bronze links just like those attached to the Woodeaton piece, have been found at other Romano-Celtic temple sites [...] and it is possible that this iron chain fabric decorated with bronze links might have been similarly used. though it could have been merely lost, it is perhaps most likely that it was a votive offering.
 

DanAngleland

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That sounds more in line with my preconceptions. My understanding about the period is that the secret to iron becoming widely used for tools and weapons was learning how to extract it, and that the sources of iron were plentiful, so there was no reason to use bronze for purposes that benefitted from the superior physical toughness of iron (purposes such as making weapons and armour for war).
 

hruza

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DanAngleland said:
That sounds more in line with my preconceptions. My understanding about the period is that the secret to iron becoming widely used for tools and weapons was learning how to extract it, and that the sources of iron were plentiful, so there was no reason to use bronze for purposes that benefitted from the superior physical toughness of iron (purposes such as making weapons and armour for war).
People have a misconception that iron have replaced bronze because iron was superior (harder) metal. But that's not the case. Pure iron wasn't used at all, it's iron alloy we usually call steel that was used (most often iron-carbon alloy). And even if we use to call alloy with low carbon content "iron", it still have carbon content and is technically steel.

Moreover bronze itself is not that soft. Hardened bronze have hardness similar to average steel. Hardening is done by simple hammering.

Good steel (for weapon, armor and tool making) have carbon content of around 0,5 % - 1,5%. Lower carbon content and it becomes too soft (wrought iron), higher and it becomes too brittle (cast iron).

Problem with iron is that it have very high melting point. Ancients could not produce temperatures high enough to melt iron ore to obtain iron. Luckily it can be obtained through solid state reduction (without melting). That was done in furnaces. However because they could not melt it, they could not mix it precisely to get alloy with optimum content, like with bronze. What you got from furnaces were lumps of metal with varying degrees of carbon content and full of impurities called slag. Challenge was to pick pieces with right carbon content and then hammer slag out of it. And since they knew next to nothing about modern chemistry, they could not just make a carbon test.

Because steel they got was so inconsistent, they combined different pieces in complicate and laborious process.

At the end what made the difference is that bronze was expensive and hard to get. One of it's two components -tin is very rare and could be found only in few places, like British Isles which ancient Greeks called "Tin Islands". Iron on the other hand was relatively plentiful.
 

Danath

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DanAngleland said:
there was no reason to use bronze for purposes that benefitted from the superior physical toughness of iron (purposes such as making weapons and armour for war).
In addition to what hruza said, bronze is less brittle, so blacksmithgs were able to create big pieces of bronze, like helmets, shields, and that one-piece breastplate shaped like a muscular torso so common among high-ranking Romans (and so impractical in real combat :razz:)

Bronze is easier to cast (lower temperature needed), but requires more work at the forge (because it loses heat very fast in comparison, a few hits with the hammer and back to heating). It also doesn't rust, but is heavier.
 

DanAngleland

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Thanks guys, that's really interesting info. I'd never imagined bronze could be as tough as good steel. I've always liked the idea of bronze weaponry for its beauty and the fact that it isn't prone to corrosion (though I recently read that it can corrode in many environments).
 

hruza

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DanAngleland said:
Thanks guys, that's really interesting info. I'd never imagined bronze could be as tough as good steel.
Small correction: Like average rather then good steel. Good steal, like one we can produce in modern time is superior in toughens to hardened bronze. The thing is, producing even average steel in those times was a challenge. Most of the "iron" tools and weapons they have produced back then was not even average steel quality.

DanAngleland said:
I've always liked the idea of bronze weaponry for its beauty and the fact that it isn't prone to corrosion (though I recently read that it can corrode in many environments).
Bronze do corrode. However corrosion of bronze prevents further corrosion. In effect corrosion of bronze creates thin protective layer of corroded bronze that prevents further corrosion. Under normal conditions.

Steel on the other hand can corrode through and through.
 

DanAngleland

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When you talk about bronze corrosion protecting it from further damage, I presume you mean the common verdigris that forms on copper/bronze? I read that it is possible in some conditions for copper and its alloys to suffer serious corrosion that, like rust in iron, will go deeper and deeper into an object, destroying it. It's down to different processes than those which produce the benign patina/verdigris.
 

hruza

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DanAngleland said:
When you talk about bronze corrosion protecting it from further damage, I presume you mean the common verdigris that forms on copper/bronze?
Yes. Many other metals corrode that way including cooper or silver.

DanAngleland said:
I read that it is possible in some conditions for copper and its alloys to suffer serious corrosion that, like rust in iron, will go deeper and deeper into an object, destroying it. It's down to different processes than those which produce the benign patina/verdigris.
That's true. Under certain conditions. If I remember right, in common contact with salt water for example. But in common use bronze had huge advantage over iron/steel in this respect.