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Leather Cuirass Lorica Musculata, I used to think no way but
#1
Salve!

Inspired by Travis Clark's essay on the Roman Cuirass I decided to make mine out of 1/8 inch leather. Which I water hardened and pressed pipes into to simulate abdominal and chest muscles.

[Image: IMG_3643.JPG]

Now, I used to think that leather was impractical as 'armor' however I was radically surprised at just how difficult this 1/2 inch leather was to cut.... my sheers and fabric scissors... for get about. My Dremel was red hot just scoring the leather and could not cut through, even after multiple passes over.

[Image: IMG_3630.JPG]

So, I went into my outdoors/camping equipment and pulled out my Ontario Knife Company US military ASEK knife. If you don't know, this knife is the absolute "real deal". If you are a US military pilot and you are issued a survival vest, this is the knife you get. It is beyond razor sharp and is designed to punch through your aircraft's shell and help you escape. I used it to score along the cuts from the Dremel and it was able to slice through but, only after several passes.

[Image: IMG_3636.JPG]

continued below...
Vale!

Antonivs Marivs Congianocvs
aka_ANTH0NY_C0NGIAN0

My ancient coin collection:
[url:3lgwsbe7]http://www.congiano.com/MyCoins/index.htm[/url]
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#2
This is a close up of the ASEK knife (Rambo eat your heart out!):

[Image: IMG_3639.JPG]

Anyways, as a test, I placed some of the scrap water hardened leather against the door stop of my bedroom, folded a towel behind it, and trusted upwards (like with a sword) into the leather... I could not get though! Although I was able to cut and slice into the leather, as hard as I thrusted upward, I did not get through it!

[Image: IMG_3650.JPG]

I then placed the towel on the floor, placed the scrap leather on top, and slammed down overhand into the leather... I got through about a 1/4 of an inch. The second time I slammed down, I got through about an inch. The third time... with all my might, I got the blade through past the angled point about an inch and a half.

[Image: IMG_3647.JPG]

So with a razor sharp, modern military knife (1095 carbon steel blade Hardness Rc 50-54) slamming down, over hand, I got penetration but, thrusting upward and underhanded like a sword... I did not.

Keep in mind, if I was wearing subarmalis (sub-armor) made from 1/4 to 1/2 inch wool felt or several layers of linen, over a wool tunic, and had this 1/2 inch water hardened leather cuirass on top... I still might not call it 'armor' but, the myth that leather can not protect you in battle is simply not true.

Lastly, I wrote up a short essay on the possibility that Roman Officers wore chain maile under their leather cuirass when in battle. The logic being... infantry wore chain maile, the Centurions would wear maile but placed decorated leather straps over it, so then... logically, an officer would wear maile and place his leather muscle armor over it as well. (eek! did I say "armor" :roll: )

The reason we don't see the mail in the sculptures of Roman Emperor's is the same reason we don't see a helmet on their heads, they are not ready for battle in those sculptors.

Continued below...
Vale!

Antonivs Marivs Congianocvs
aka_ANTH0NY_C0NGIAN0

My ancient coin collection:
[url:3lgwsbe7]http://www.congiano.com/MyCoins/index.htm[/url]
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#3
This is the front of my cuirass, with the back piece behind it... I'm not sure if I'll go with the black paint... I might just repaint it white... not sure yet.

[Image: IMG_3645.JPG]

Below are the front and back pieces with the ornamental décor that will go on the subarmalis (sub-armor) below; I want to make the upper portion short tongues of the subarmalis curved and follow the flow of the cuirass and then add the long tongues below. (I'm still not 100% sure how I'll attach them to the subarmalis)

I actually found buttons for the cuirass and shoulder guards (which I haven’t made yet) that have gryphons on them; those are placed as the nipples. The shoulder thunderbolts I got from NIX Imperial and they are gorgeous! Awesome job Terry!


[Image: 499IMG_3655.jpg]
Vale!

Antonivs Marivs Congianocvs
aka_ANTH0NY_C0NGIAN0

My ancient coin collection:
[url:3lgwsbe7]http://www.congiano.com/MyCoins/index.htm[/url]
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#4
Good points Anthony! Say, where are you based? Canada by any chance?

Glad to see a good practical demonstration! It helps confirm what I imagined, but was not in a position to find out! Smile 8)
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
[b]Legio XIIII GMV. (Q. Magivs)RMRS Remember Atuatuca! Vengence will be ours!
Titus Flavius Germanus
Batavian Coh I
Byron Angel
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#5
If the armour is flexible like those in Travis' statues then you have a winner Wink
Nobody is disputing that leather can make effective armour. The contention is whether FLEXIBLE leather can make effectvie armour.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#6
Such as the one that looks like a melted candle, Dan? It would be hard to imagine anything soft behaving in the same way as the one just demonsrated to be sure.
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
[b]Legio XIIII GMV. (Q. Magivs)RMRS Remember Atuatuca! Vengence will be ours!
Titus Flavius Germanus
Batavian Coh I
Byron Angel
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#7
Quote: Lastly, I wrote up a short essay on the possibility that Roman Officers wore chain maile under their leather cuirass when in battle. The logic being... infantry wore chain maile, the Centurions would wear maile but placed decorated leather straps over it, so then... logically, an officer would wear maile and place his leather muscle armor over it as well.

Umm, got evidence? Sorry, but I'm puzzled as to why a Roman aristocrat would go to such lengths, when he could simply wear a bronze cuirass? It would be thinner, lighter, and shinier than heavy leather over mail, not to mention it would be the traditional Hellenistic fashion (which is why they dressed that way in the first place). I just don't think it's a good idea to apply modern ideas of "logic" to Roman behavior.

Yes, we know leather or hide armor of some sort existed, though for all the searching and theorizing and speculation it really seems to have been comparatively rare. And we know some aristocrats are portrayed in something that is clearly soft and could be leather, but generally this is for formal portraiture, not a realistic battle depiction. At the very least, we're talking two completely different things, here!

So why can't a tribune or legate's battle cuirass just be bronze? (Heck, or iron?) Looks good, works just fine.

Vale,

Matthew
Matthew Amt (Quintus)
Legio XX, USA
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.larp.com/legioxx/">http://www.larp.com/legioxx/
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#8
You should cover all the cuirass with bronze or brass scales...that is what we suspect with scaled musculatas. I know Travis is dying to see one! :wink:

BTW nice work!!!
MNI Gioi u F**ckers Smile <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt="Smile" title="Smile" />Smile
Remarks by Philip on the Athenian Leaders:
Philip said that the Athenians were like the bust of Hermes: all mouth and dick.
:lol: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" />:lol:
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#9
"Keep in mind, if I was wearing subarmalis (sub-armor) made from 1/4 to 1/2 inch wool felt or several layers of linen, over a wool tunic, and had this 1/2 inch water hardened leather cuirass on top... I still might not call it 'armor' but, the myth that leather can not protect you in battle is simply not true. "

My god, that's one heavy, thick subarmalis. I'd hate to use that in any kind of weather above 5 degrees celcius...you'd be overheating everytime you went on a simple route march. As Dan mentioned, no-one is debating that leather can't protect you, but for a high ranking officer to wear simple hide when they had the best assets to procure a metal cuirass of the finest quality...doesn't make sense.

"Lastly, I wrote up a short essay on the possibility that Roman Officers wore chain maile under their leather cuirass when in battle. The logic being... infantry wore chain maile, the Centurions would wear maile but placed decorated leather straps over it, so then... logically, an officer would wear maile and place his leather muscle armor over it as well."

First, roman emperor's didn't lead their troops into battle. They commanded from behind the front lines, and let their centurions do the dirty work. Thus there isn't a lot of need for such a doubling of armour. You're also ruling out the fact that infantry also wore steel/iron plate segmentata, centurions probably as well, not to mention centurions wearing squamata or scale maille.

There is no logic to emperor's wearing leather musculata. It's a sign of wealth as well, and leather is pretty cheap in comparison to the work needed to make a top-end breast and back plate out of bronze/brass, and then probably silvered, not to mention all of the decorations that went over it.

The reason you don't see emperor's with a helmet on, is the same reason Tom Cruise wasn't given one in The Last Samurai. He's the celebrity, and people want to be able to identify him readily because of that status.
____________________________________________________________
Magnus/Matt
LEGIO II AVG COH VIII
It amazes me how quickly stupid people are out-breeding the smart ones.

"The greatest impediment of all is the square-jawed, flat-talking Tatum, who is so wooden he presents a fire hazard." - The Toronto Star on Channing Tatum in "The Eagle".

"I am on a drug. It\'s called Charlie Sheen. If you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body" - Charlie Sheen
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#10
Well, mine is a fairly sturdy subarmalis, but then with a seg, not a musculata. There is ample ventilation and exposed body parts to cool the body.
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
[b]Legio XIIII GMV. (Q. Magivs)RMRS Remember Atuatuca! Vengence will be ours!
Titus Flavius Germanus
Batavian Coh I
Byron Angel
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#11
Slave omnis,

As for my impression… I first tired purchasing a metal cuirass however; I could not find anything that looked like what I saw in the sculptures. Every piece, with price ranges from $60 to $200, all have an extra lip at the bottom, none have follow the anatomy around the belly button and curve up to the hips, all attach with buckles, and all look like thorax of an insect; with dramatically overly exaggerated ripples.

[Image: B000J5JQQA.01-A37862K6Y0YWYD._AA280_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg]
[Image: BRASS_ROMAN_CUIRASS.jpg]

I was able to find far more accurate cuirasses however; the price range then jumps to $1000 to $1500; which I cannot afford.

I honestly did not want to digress into a leather vs. metal debate; for that I would recommend Travis Lee Clark’s site at [url:2tlje18g]http://astro.temple.edu/~tlclark/lorica/bronze_leather.htm[/url] he seems to have spent more time researching the topic than anyone.

Anyways, after reading his essay, I chose to fabricate my cuirass from leather. Firstly, because I agree with many of Travis’s points (not all… but many) and I also know my limits and what I can fabricate.

I’m pretty confident that I can make a Lorica Musculata Cuirass that looks pretty accurate to what I see in the sculptures of Emperors; and if I fail, at least I gave it my best shot.

BTW: My girlfriend thought it was hysterical that I was stabbing my knife into the leather against the door frame! She wanted to know if I was releasing some untold pent-up aggression! LOL Big Grin

Also, I'm still looking for inexpensive gryphons for the lower left and right... I've found some on EBay but, they are made for cast iron and I think too large. I'm planning on gilding them, and the others, in gold using gold leaf or if I totally screw it up... I'll paint them.

For the submarlis I should have said 1/16 to an 1/8 of an inch.

[Image: 499IMG_3655.jpg]

Large image here:
[url:2tlje18g]http://www.congiano.com/Extras/Recreation/800x600IMG_3655.jpg[/url]
Vale!

Antonivs Marivs Congianocvs
aka_ANTH0NY_C0NGIAN0

My ancient coin collection:
[url:3lgwsbe7]http://www.congiano.com/MyCoins/index.htm[/url]
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#12
Hey Anthony, what about painting it (once it's smooth) with some kind of metal flake paint? Awesome job, by the way in your fabrication.

There's a few points on Travis's site I don't agree with though...he mentions how no Roman musculata have been found...yet how many tribune/legate helmets have we found? None...to me this is a mout point. Any numerous explanations as to why this is so is easily plausible. The fact that numerically there were few emperors, tribunes and legates vs rank and file soldiers now reduces the % chance of finding such a piece of equipment dramatically. Honestly, who knows what could have happened to their gear. A lot went on from the time they were in use to now.

He also uses the example of an Antonine era general from the Bergama Museum in Turkey. Showing a what he says to be a leather muscled cuirass beside him on the ground because of how it is folded over. Have you ever seen non-boiled or hardened leather bend like that? How about regular leather...leaves terrible creases in it, and I VERY much doubt that if there was any shaping done to the leather especially on the upper body for the pectoral muscles, that A) it would bend like that, and B) the person who owned it would WANT to bend it like that because it would probably WRECK IT.

Unfortunately, I have not seen that statue up close, but that makes absolutely no sense at all. One oddball piece of statuary a "rule or standard" does not make. You'll have a hard time convincing me that an important officer of extremely high rank and status, not to mention finances is going to wear a piece of filthy animal hide on his body, no matter how it's been rendered.

Though I will agree, that components of the musculata was definately leather! You need both material types to make a functional armour, dress or combat.
____________________________________________________________
Magnus/Matt
LEGIO II AVG COH VIII
It amazes me how quickly stupid people are out-breeding the smart ones.

"The greatest impediment of all is the square-jawed, flat-talking Tatum, who is so wooden he presents a fire hazard." - The Toronto Star on Channing Tatum in "The Eagle".

"I am on a drug. It\'s called Charlie Sheen. If you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body" - Charlie Sheen
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#13
Quote:the example of an Antonine era general from the Bergama Museum in Turkey.
That could be a subarmalis for a musculata. Just as some believe it bears the hallmarks of a musculata with the pteryges, that also means it bears the hallmarks of a subarmalis with attached pteryges, surely, and the metal part may have gone on top? I wish there was a better photo of the shoulders. But don't forget Travis also points out that it could be a ceremonial item.
TARBICvS/Jim Bowers
A A A DESEDO DESEDO!
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#14
My god, that's one heavy, thick subarmalis. I'd hate to use that in any kind of weather above 5 degrees celcius...you'd be overheating everytime you went on a simple route march. As Dan mentioned, no-one is debating that leather can't protect you, but for a high ranking officer to wear simple hide when they had the best assets to procure a metal cuirass of the finest quality...doesn't make sense.

Not much thicker than my kevlar vest I wear every day at work, which does not breath at all. Gets miserable in August, but you sort of get used to it. I find a branze cuirass does not breath anyway, so the subarmalis mostly just catches sweat, and truly does not add to much to the overall heat. This does encourage the short no sleeve tunic though. cooling the extremities cools the blood circulating resulting in an overall cooling. Not saying you will not be hot, but it is doable. I directed traffic 4 hours in the heat one day. Swallowed about a gallon of water, but lived. The helm catches and retains a ton of heat too.

I guess my point is, after about 1/8 to 3/16 inch of leather... the rest is just not going to add that much more heat. Chest armor only covers about 30 to 35% of the body.
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#15
Excellent points Rusty
"...quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit, occidentis telum est."


a.k.a. Paul M.
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