Primarily worn by infantry troops, Roman armour allowed for strong protection against various ranged and melee weapons. Proving essential in battle, this armour greatly aided in the success of the Roman Empire, as it gave them a distinct advantage over their enemies. Understanding the general types helps a collector amass a battle-worthy Roman militaria display.
Roman helmets, commonly called galeas, are bowl-shaped in design. They feature hinged cheek guards, meant to deflect blows to the face, as well as a flared piece of metal to protect the back of the neck. Still, a ridge of bronze or steel metal spanned across the forehead in an effort to deflect downward enemy strokes. When shopping, thoroughly examine the condition as well as the authenticity of each Roman soldier helmet; it was common for Roman soldiers to carve their names into the helmets. The fittings on the helmets often give insight to regiment or rank. Higher rank soldiers had helmets that featured a crest, often adorned with some type of feather or horsehair as seen in Roman centurion helmets.
Earlier forms included chainmail and scale armour. While chainmail was made up of interlocking chain links that provided protection from piercing and slashing, the latter resembled fish or reptile scales, with overlapping scales of bronze or iron sewn onto a padded linen or thick leather frame. Still, segmented, or banded, armour, often referred to as Lorica segmentata, was introduced around 9 BC and consisted of broad iron strips fastened together with leather straps on the armours interior. Soldiers could separate these coverings into four pieces for convenient storage purposes, and they offered superior protection compared to chainmail and scale armour.
Roman shields, or scutums, are rectangular and feature a semi-curved shape, which aided in full-body protection. These shields could be interlocked in an effort to create overall protection for Roman troops. Still, the lowest class division of the Roman army used parmas, or circular shields. These shields spanned a metre across and were made of an iron frame with a handle and a shield boss.
Greaves, or large plates, protected the thighs and shins. When shopping, be sure that the buckles or ties used to hold the greaves in place function as intended. Still, manicas, or arm armour, were designed for wear on one or both arms. Typically made of bronze or iron, they are usually segmented to provide protection and mobility.
Soldiers commonly wore pteruges, or skirts of leather or fabric strips, around the waist to protect the upper legs in the line of battle. For additional protection, many were fitted with small metal studs.