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Roman Body Armour [Hardcover]

Hilary Travis , John Travis
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 April 2011
This book assesses current views of the body armour used by the Roman army and its development, melding these with the archaeological evidence available. It draws together the streams of published information of sculptural imagery and archaeological 'hard' evidence, while also looking at the component parts and how they are physically put together. This has involved a return to basics, in examining wherever possible the original material (as opposed to the published 2-D photographic images and line drawings) and attempting to reproduce the aspects of the artefacts observed through physical reconstruction. The reconstructions produced were then subjected to low-level, simulated wear, over several years, to view component inter-action, and simulated combat/ destructive testing using a range of weaponry, including archery equipment, to view which parts were more susceptible to damage, and what features may be anticipated archaeologically on artefacts as evidence of regular wear, combat damage and field repairs. Discrepancies were also noted between current reconstructions of Roman military equipment (by museums and re-enactors), which have been produced based on previous desk-based assessments, and the reality of the actual artefacts, particularly in the case of the segmented plate armour (lorica segmentata), which may cause us to re-think not only the appearance, but also the function/fighting methods of the Roman soldier.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Amberley Publishing (1 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1445603594
  • ISBN-13: 978-1445603599
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 17.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 806,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Hilary Travis holds a Masters and Honours Degrees in Archaeology. In addition to over 20 years experience as an archaeologist, she also has over 20 years combat experience in Japanese martial arts, and over 10 years in reconstruction of Roman and medieval period artefacts. John Travis is an established author, his first book, Coal in Roman Britain, was based on his PhD thesis. He holds a Masters Degree and Doctorate in Roman Archaeology from the University of Liverpool. He is an archaeologist with over 30 years experience, and an Associate member of the Institute of Field Archaeologists (AIFA). Both Hilary and John are active re-enactors, as members of both the Chester Guard (Deva VV) Roman Society and the Thomas Stanley Retinue (Wars of the Roses Medieval group).

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does what is says on the tin. 4 May 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great book, if you went to understand Roman armour better, more of a reference book than a narrative, but no worse for that.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lorica Segmenta to Squamata 9 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An in depth study of the various types of armour worn by the legions, reappraising artifacts in museums and using practical knowledge gained by re-enactors. A useful book which answered many of my questions.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars FAR TOO WORDY 10 Jan 2013
By A. Taylor TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Can I start by saying that this book can be rated two ways, one gives it five stars, the other, mine, gives it 3 stars.

Five stars because it covers just about everything that anyone seriously interested in Roman body armour could possibly want to know, including the probable impact on the person who was making it's family members. It covers in extensive detail the various finds of armour around the empire and all possible forms of reconstruction. There are a good number of line drawings and photo's to illustrate the comments in the text.

Three stars because for those who want a reasonably detailed overview of body armour this book is incredibly anal! It bangs on for pages and pages about chain mail and the, seemingly, millions of different ways this could have/can be constructed, links joined this way, that way, every way one can think of. In other words one does not get just an overview one gets beaten to death............. On a slightly more serious note I have to say that from a (semi) layman's point of view a lot the line drawings are of poor quality as are most of the photographs. Unusually on the iPad (iPad 4) when one tries to `grow' them to see more detail they blur. Of course this may just be an iPad failing and YMMV on a Kindle for instance.

Also it really would have helped if there had been a lot more in the way of illustrations. I found it very difficult to fully understand all the points with regard to the different type and the fastening of the armour, pictures really are worth a thousand words sometimes and this book is crying out for more.

Overall, a very informative book and should one read it 'cover' to 'cover' one can't help but to come away much more informed - even if you don't particularly want to be - but not quite the detailed overview I was expecting however.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting 8 Nov 2011
By Cato - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is by far the most thorough and most detailed analysis of Roman body armour I have ever read. That said, readers should be aware that this book is aimed primarily at academics and/or those who are trying to recreate authentic mail or segmented armour. If you are interested in how many holes individual pieces of scale mail had for being attached together, or the type of hinges used on lorica segmentata, or the type of knots used to lace pieces together, then this is the book for you. If you are looking for a historical discussion of the development of Roman body armour, its use in battle, and why a particular piece was adopted/discarded by the army, then this book is not for you. The text is very technically detailed, and assumes you know the difference between the different variations of LS found in England. Headings are topical rather than thesis-driven, and the book is divided into sections dealing with LS, LH, and scale mail.

I was primarily attracted to this book by the advertisment that there was a discussion of real world tests on the effectiveness of different types of armour against different weapons. To be fair, I have not read this book cover to cover, but I have yet to find such a discussion.

I do not fault the authors in any way, as they clearly have gone out of their way to provide a definitive treatise on the subject. However, the publishing house could be a little more up front about the intended audience.

That said, I do intend to try and make it through this very informative text. However, the detail and structure of this book are much more suited to several short sessions whilst in the "thinking room" rather than a long afternoon with a bottle of wine.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New insights on very old armours 10 Jan 2013
By Anibal Madeira - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This investigation done by Hilary and John Travis is truly superb. It has almost everything an academic would search for in a book about protective garments of almost all periods of Roman history. How it was constructed, use of all types of sources including epigraphic, sculptural, written and archeological sources, debate on controversies, history of the study of Roman armor, a great reassessment on the Corbridge hoard (extremely important because the pieces are eroding), lists of components for all segmentata types; and important factors for each type of protection (for example, direction of knitting of a Lorica Hamata or metallurgical analysis of Corbridge material).

The better parts IMHO are the correction of the Corbridge upper shoulder assembly, a proposed alternative method of closure of Corbridge B, the possible data on "Alba Iulia" type of Segmentata (only sculptural evidence so far) and the extreme importance of Subarmalis and Thoracomachus as easily seen on the penetration tests made on the lorica hamata (tests with 6 kinds of arrow heads on mail with different types of undergarments).

The line drawings by John Travis are great, very good photographs and nice color plates (representing very well the equipment, but the author/illustrator must work on the human head) complement this excellent work.

Other review points the fact that this book isn't for everyone, that the publisher could be more upfront about the target audience...he is entirely correct. This book is quite academic and goes to details including the construction of the wire to use in mail - it's quite descriptive and not simply a description of the several types of armors.

The tests using other armor beside Hamata were done, but they aren't published in this book - they should have been...at least in an appendix for example. Also there is little information on the effects of the simulated wear in long run.

I believe Hilary and John Travis made a great job, but they can make a second volume with more information and all the results published.

Note for the authors: If they need to test a bow with more power draw remember that different countries have different laws.
4.0 out of 5 stars For enthusiasts 18 Feb 2014
By luke mccredie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you have more than a passing interest in roman armour its well worth getting. Also very quotable for academic studies
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome resource 8 Feb 2013
By M. Sellers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an awesome resource for those interested in Rome and the Roman military. It supplements rather than replaces earlier works.
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