The lorica hamata is a type of mail armour used by the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. During the 1st century it was starting to be supplemented by lorica segmentata, but had been reintroduced as sole standard-issue armor by the 4th century. It was issued for both primary Legionary and secondary Auxilia troops. They were mostly manufactured out of bronze or iron. It alternated rows of closed washer-like rings punched from iron sheets and rows of riveted rings from drawn wire that ran horizontally, producing a very flexible, reliable and strong armour. Each ring has an inside diameter of about 5 mm, and an outside diameter of about 7 mm.
Chest approx 1000mm to 1150mm (40 inches to 45 inches).
Length (approx): 815mm (32")
Chest measurement (approx): 1220mm (48")
The shoulders of the lorica hamata had flaps that were similar to the Greek 'Linothorax' which ran from about mid-back to the front of the torso, and were connected by brass or iron hooks which connected to studs riveted through the ends of the flaps. Up to 30,000 rings would have gone into one lorica hamata, and the estimated production time was two months even with continual slave labor at the state-run armouries.
The knowledge on the manufacturing of mail may have come from third century BC conflicts with the Celts, though the first documented use occurred during the Roman conquest of Hispania. There were several versions of this type of armour, specialized for different military duties such as skirmishers, cavalry and spearmen.
Although labor-intensive to manufacture, it is thought that, with good maintenance, they could be continually used for several decades. Constant friction kept the rings of the lorica hamata free of rust, unlike the segmentata which needed constant maintenance to prevent corrosion.
Over its lifetime, the Hamata remained in constant use by the legionaries and it was the preferred armour of the centurions, who favored its greater coverage and lower maintenance. The lorica hamata was still common amongst the Legionary soldiers in the 2nd century, despite the use of the more popularly recognized lorica segmentata segmented plate armour. The segmentata was eventually discontinued in the third century for unknown reasons, but the lorica hamata remained common for both legionaries and auxilia. Later versions had sleeves and expanded to the knees unlike the earlier lorica hamata.
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