The main focus of this edition of Ancient Warfare magazine is on armour – its development, production and how to counter it. The theme starts with a look at the earlier forms of armour – leather, linen and felt, followed by scale armour and plate armour, followed by a gap of about a millennium before the appearance of mail armour in the early 3rd century BC. Next comes a look at the Celtic origin of mail armour, illustrated by a modern reconstruction of one particular type of early mail. This is followed by a look at the limits of armour – the first appearance of the very heavily armoured cavalryman in the west came during one of Constantine’s wars, when his opponents fielded ‘clibanarii’, but were still defeated. Next is a look a how Roman armour changed over time, and how those changes might have been related to the opponents Rome was facing and the weapons her troops were using. Finally there is a look at the changes in the way military equipment was produced between the early and late Empire, with many smaller manufactories being replaced by a smaller number of larger facilities.
Away from the main theme there are two articles on ancient cavalry – one looking at the appearance of the Numidian cavalry of the Republican period, and the second examining the portrayal of a cavalryman on the Bridgeness Slab, a remarkable intact memorial created to celebrate and record the creation of the Antonine Wall in Scotland.
The article on the use of animal pelts by Roman standard-bearers is a valuable reminder of how careful we have to be with our sources. Many books on the Roman army state that animal pelts were a standard part of the uniform of these men, but a close examination of the sources for this statement don’t really support it. It also demonstrates the way in which entirely accurate statements can be misused – many of the sources for this belief can be traced back to examinations of individual pieces of ancient art that do indeed show a particular standard bearer wearing animal pelts, but that specific piece of evidence goes on to be used to support generalisations that aren’t really justified.
First attempts - the earliest forms of armour
Gallica - Mail armour of the celts
An invulnerable enemy - Countering the clibanarii at Turin
Arms to armour - Adapting to new opponents
Warding the evil eye - Magical wards in the Roman army
Mines to miles - arms supply in the dominate
The cavalry’s new clothes - Numidian or Moorish cavalry
Pride in the army - Cavalry on the Bridgeness Slab
Dressing a standard-bearer - Animal pelts in the Roman army
Learning to besiege - Taktike Techne, part VIII