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Turkish experts unveil 1,500-year-old Roman armor after restoration

Turkish experts unveil 1,500-year-old Roman armor after restoration 1,500-year-old Roman legionary armor discovered in the ancient city of Satala restored in Gumushane, Türkiye, June 19, 2024. (AA Photo)
By Newsroom
Jun 19, 2024 5:57 PM

An extraordinary piece of Roman history has come back to life in Türkiye. Experts have meticulously restored a 1,500-year-old Roman legionary armor, known as “Lorica Squamata.”

This unique armor, discovered in the ancient city of Satala in Gumushane, dates back to the Late Roman Period. It stands as the only known example of its kind in the world.

Archaeologists unearthed the armor during the 2020 excavation season. They transported it, with the help of the Ankara Regional Laboratory, to the Erzurum Restoration and Conservation Regional Laboratory in 2021.

The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism supervised the restoration process.

Technicians used X-ray and micro-CT imaging to reveal that nearly the entire armor was intact. These detailed scans allowed experts to determine the exact measurements and some metallurgical properties of the armor.

After three years of careful work, they coded and conserved each small, overlapping metal plate. The team reassembled the armor on a mannequin, returning it to its original form and standing position.

Lorica Squamata, often referred to as “scale armor,” saw widespread use by Roman soldiers, particularly officers, standard-bearers, musicians, and some cavalry units. This type of armor provided a balance of protection and flexibility.

Craftsmen made it from small metal scales sewn onto a fabric or leather backing. The scales allowed for significant freedom of movement while offering substantial defense.

During the Roman period, such armor was not tailored to individuals. Soldiers repaired and reused the armor when damaged. When beyond repair, they melted it down and repurposed it. This practice makes surviving examples extremely rare.

Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy announced the completion of the restoration on social media. He expressed gratitude to the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums’ staff for their efforts.

“The Lorica Squamata, which has been revitalized by expert hands at the Erzurum Restoration and Conservation Regional Laboratory, has reached us almost perfectly. This magnificent artifact opens a unique window into the warrior past of the Roman Empire,” Ersoy said.

The restoration team used X-ray results to confirm the armor’s remarkable preservation. They removed three small plates from the edges and conducted micro-CT imaging. This allowed them to determine the armor’s precise measurements and some metallurgical properties.

After three years of meticulous work at the Erzurum Restoration and Conservation Regional Laboratory, the team successfully conserved and restored the armor. They reassembled it on a mannequin, restoring it to its original form and upright position.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism explained the significance of this finding. “This type of armor rarely survives to the present day,” the ministry noted.

The discovery and restoration of this Lorica Squamata armor provide invaluable insights into Roman military history and craftsmanship.

Last Updated:  Jun 21, 2024 10:25 AM