A working bronze Lorica Segmentata strap buckle for the Corbridge(earliest) style of segmented plate armor. The standard armor for the Roman Legionary during Rome's prime.
The front rivet is still in place, holding the pin and loop together.
The reverse side of the buckle still shows remnants of the iron armor plate around the rivets where it would have been attached to.
This design is simpler, yet higher in quality in some sense as the very strong central hinge indicates. Artistic value had to make way for a more practical and better suited buckle.
This type of armor had many advantages over scale mail and chain mail, primarily being that it could withstand much harder impacts from pointed weapons while still allowing a good amount of flexibility. The only inherent weakness, at least on these earlier versions was that all the buckles and hinges could easily break and required constant repair. Furthermore the leather straps trapped in moisture on the iron, making it harder to keep corrosion free. This early version was also relatively hard to put on and invariably required a second person to do the buckles up. It was not until the Newstead type that the buckles, hinges and laces were largely done away with. (1)(2)(3)
**There was some question as to the authenticity of this item simply due to the fact that little or no patina seems to be present. Close inspection however of the lone rivet does indicate its age and the remnants of a former older patina. It appears that the dealer over cleaned the item, destroying most of the patina and degrading the objects value. Its historical significance however is not lost.**
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(1) References to similar items: FEUGERE, Michel; Weapons of the Romans, page 103 2002.
(2) References to similar items: CONNOLLY, Peter; The Legionary, page 24 2000.
(3) References to similar items: CONNOLLY, Peter; Greece and Rome at War, page 229-230 1998.
*Image of Segmentata by P.CONNOLLY
**Note on background. A Fresco from the ancient Roman City of Pompeii. The interior walls of a wealthy Roman's Estate 79AD. Picture taken July 2005.