Guide to Roman Replica Armor

There are many reasons why the Roman Empire ruled for as many centuries as it did. One of the main reasons is because of its military. And the reason the Roman military was so successful is not necessarily because it had better weapons or armor than its adversaries, it's because its leaders understood the concept of uniformity.

"An Army of One"--this is one of the US Army's current slogans regarding our army. This slogan could have been used centuries ago to describe the Roman army. Every member wore the same uniform (or very similar, depending on rank). Every soldier was issued the same weapons and armor. Every soldier, therefore, felt equal to his comrade.

"All for One and One for All" is another slogan which could be used to describe the sense on unity these soldiers may have had. To their adversaries, they weren't just fighting soldiers, they were fighting a force to be reckoned with, an entity, an unstoppable mass with a collective conscious.

This, my friends, was the key to the Empire's success. By requiring each soldier to dress the same, carry the same weapons, and see each other as equal parts of a much larger machine, the leaders of the Roman Empire successfully created the world's first Super Power.

Now, if only these leaders had known that constructing a sewer system made of lead pipes would eventually bring about lead poisoning, impairing the judgment of its empire's leaders and pretty much making them all insane, the Roman Empire could still be around today and the world would be a much different place.

However, the fall of Rome withstanding, we can all admit that even now, the Roman Empire enthralls us! It was an absolutely amazing time in human history and an era we seem to be obsessed with (understandably).

Throughout the centuries, we have seen uprising trends in Roman culture. Architecture over the years has most definitely been impacted by Roman style. We still enjoy Roman foods such as Caesar Salad, fruit and cheese trays, wine, and bread with olive oil. Fancy dinner parties find their roots in Roman culture. Toga Parties are a favorite among college students. And only a dozen years ago or so, the "Caesar" haircut was "the" haircut to have amongst men.

A Brief Guide To Roman Armor And Weapons

Now, The Roman Empire reigned for many centuries. Throughout the years, their military's armor and weaponry changed and adapted. However, the main "get-up" always consisted of the same pieces:

  • Chest Armor
  • Leg Armor
  • Helmet
  • Shield
  • Personal Weapons

Chest Armor

In the earlier years, soldiers word chain mail shirts. The finer the chain mail, the better the protection. These shirts are very heavy (after all, they're made out of chains!), and although they are better than having no protection, they can still be penetrated.

As the years went on, soldiers began wearing scale armor--literally armor made of bronze or iron scales. This type of armor was less penetrable than chain mail, but still left room for improvement.

Eventually, soldiers began wearing armor called Lorica segmentata, which consisted of large pieces of iron laid out horizontally and fastened together on the inside with strips of leather.

This armor is what we now recognize as Roman armor. The armor itself changed and adapted a bit throughout the centuries, but it's structural integrity was always maintained and it is the most widely recognizable armor of the Roman soldier.

Leg and Arm Armor

Although not every soldier wore this type of armor, some did. Mostly it was worn on the arms--either one arm or both. Sometimes the armor was made of iron or bronze and fashioned the same as the body armor. Or it may have just been cuffs of thick leather fastened around the forearms.

A for the soldier's legs, they usually wore sheets of metal shaped into the form of a legs, strapped to the front of their legs. Some of these only went to the knee while others went higher.


The most common (and most well-known) Roman helmet was called the Galea. When you picture a Roman soldier, you most likely picture this helmet. It covered the entire head, side of the head and face, and sometimes had a bridge down the front of the face to protect the nose.

These helmets were typically very intricate and usually had a crest of horse hair or feathers on the top, usually dyed red to match the soldiers clothing.


The Parma was the shield used most widely by Roman soldiers. This was a round shield, approximately 3 feet in diameter. It was made of iron and thick leather, which made it very effective but heavy.

The Scotum was another shield used. It was rectangular, and when used along with other soldiers, could form an armor shell when held above the head--which was very useful for blocking incoming arrows.

The Soldiers Usual Weapons

Each soldier was "decked out" with plenty of weapons. Although the design of the weapons evolved over time, the main "gist" and purpose of them remained the same. Here is a list of the typical weapons a Roman soldier would carry:

  • Pugio or dagger
  • Gladius or short sword
  • Spatha or long sword
  • Hasta or thrusting spear
  • Javelin or throwing spear
  • Bow and arrows
  • Darts

Most soldiers carried all or most of these weapons. Obviously, during a battle, arrows and darts would be used up, and spears would be lost, but the soldier always made sure to keep his swords and shield handy.

Now, The Real Question Is...

...Why are you not rushing to your nearest costume shop to dress up as a Roman soldier right now?!

You have to admit, Roman soldiers were pretty cool! Many people either participate in or enjoy watching reenactment festivals of Roman battles. It's fun to take a step back in history and see what it must have been like to be in a battle of this era.

There are many places around the world that put on reenactment festivals. Here are a few of the more well known festivals and reenactment groups:

The Senate and People of Rome in Falls Church, Virginia.

The York Roman Festival in York, Britain.

Legio VI Victrix in Stevenson Ranch, California.

But obviously the best place to see a great reenactment is going to be in Rome, Italy!

Or you can just host your own little Roman Empire theme party and invite your guests to dress up in ancient Roman costumes. Here are a couple links to help inspire you and your friends:

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Roberht 3 years ago

11.10.2012Iordanka HristovaImam namerenie da se zaiamnvam sas selski turizam ,kato v momenta sam zakupila kashta koqto mislq da q napravq Kashta za gosti .Tuk v nashiq grad (Sliven ) po nikakav nachin ne mojesh da se obogatish s informaciq otnostno namereniqta si .Interesuva me :-Kade i kakvo trqbva da se napravi za da se kandidatstva po tazi " Mqrka311-312 ?Nadqvam se da sam zadala vaprosite si razbiraemo t. k. ot cqloto tova lutane ot stai v stai zapochvam da si mislq che samata Az neznam kakvo iskam .BLAGODARQ VI PREDVARITELNO !

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slushatwork 5 years ago from Canada Author

My classical minor is finally coming in handy, lol!

Kathryn 5 years ago

Love. LOVE. Sincerely, - A total history buff!!!

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