Shirt of scale-armour - ROM2012_12477_1


Shirt of scale-armour

Medium:Bronze sheet
Geography: Said to have been found at the site of the Battle of Lake Trasimene (217 BC), Italy
Date: Probably early 20th century in its present state but may incorporate ancient elements
Object number: 930.77.19.A
Not on view
DescriptionThis shirt or "hauberk" of scale armour was purchased in 1930 from a London dealer, who claimed it was found near Lake Trasimeno in Italy. At about the same time Yale University was excavating the site of Dura Europos in Eastern Syria. This important site produced a great deal of military hardware date to the battle that ended the occupation of the site in about 250 AD, including fragments of scale armour currently in the ROM. The fragments of scale armour from Dura-Europos are typical of the real thing: the scales are fixed at the top and the sides of the plate to create a flexible but strong protection. But this shirt's scales are just attached at the top, and hang loose. This would actually make it very ineffective armour, as a simple upward thrust would slip under the scales and through the armour. Close examination of some of scales reveals that it looks like some were cut after they gained the patina of age, so these parts of the shirt were probably made of fragments of old metal sheet. Judging by the Dura-Europos finds what this may actually mostly represent are scales from horse armour, refitted to make the shirt.
Roman World
If you see an error or have additional information, please contact us by clicking here.