all seen the shiny version, but what about the legionary on endless
with this project was to re-create a life-size legionary who had been
away from the amenities and spare time afforded soldiers in their garrison
forts. Instead, I wanted to depict a soldier who had been on hard-fought
campaign for years, with all the wear-and-tear that would bring.
an aside, I should say that I was happy moving forward with a certain
quality of outcome in mind until I came across the similar work of the
late Ronald Embleton. The amount of work and knowledge that went into
his life size figures for museums was light years beyond what I had
in mind. Sometimes a challenge is what it takes to get me kick started.
This has happened off and on a few times in my life. Most of the time
I challenge myself, to see if I could do it, but sometimes others can
inspire me to go beyond the limits of what I believe I can do. This
project owes a great deal to the inspiration of Embleton's work.
the expression right
problem with all male mannequins is that they look like supermodels.
They have no character whatsoever, just a pretty face and that is exactly
what I did not want. The image of the Legionary for this project was
to be of a veteran nearing the end of his term of service. The baths
of the fortress are only a faint memory it seems as he wears the sweat
and grime of the battlefield like officers wear their medals. He has
been wounded and returned to service time and again and although he
fights for his Emperor, it is his Legion commander that instills the
allegiance of the troops.
the mannequin I started with would have been fine for most displays,
my first thoughts for this project was "off with his head!"
I searched until I finally found the kind of head I looking for. Not
a brute, but a regular man with some age and classical, strong features.
That is what made Vespasian so well-loved. He was a people's Emperor
and devoted his reign in setting examples for soldier and Emperor alike.
new head resembles both actor Patrick
Stewart and the Kennewick
Man--a 9,300 year old prehistoric man whose remains were found in
the Columbia River basin. Talk about "classical" features!)
He is dirty
from daily fieldwork and fighting. Fine dirt can even be seen in his
facial pores. There are also highlights and shadows mixed in. All this
was new to me, not to mention making scars! I almost did not attempt
to do the eyes and was going to leave them blank because I know how
important it is to get them right. I did not feel I could do life size
eyes, but ultimately I decided to give it my best.
surface rust and oil mix makes blackened armor
or blackening of metal can be done several ways. These days, the blueing
or blackening patina is done chemically or by heating carbon steel.
A simpler but slower method is to control oxidization using a rust/oil
mix over the metal. A thin layer of surface rust and oil makes a blue/black
color on the iron below as a result of chemical reaction over time.
The controlled oxidization forms a protective layer over the steel beneath
it. Basically the rust/oil on the outside keeps oxygen from getting
at the steel on the inside and allowing it to form an iron patina.
is part of a new theory as to how Roman soldiers, away on campaign,
could easily keep their armor from rusting through. Surface rust was
allowed to start on the iron and then it would be oiled. The iron/oil
layer would start to take on a black patina underneath the oil and rust
mix. The combined mix top coat and blackening undercoat would preserve
the armor from rusting through the metal or even pitting the iron. This
practice was also used in Medieval Europe, in the Renaissance, in the
English civil war and numerous other wars. Remember Germany and Dacia
were a rain forest 2000 years ago, so this type of protection would
indeed be useful. The Romans already used oil as a rain and weather
barrier on leather goods. See bottom of page for more of my thoughts
on "field-blackened" armor.
his kit and gear
had antiqued armor before for Walt Disney but I had never weathered
and battered items or made them look dirty and grimy.
marching pack is actually loaded with similarly distressed, period-accurate
red wool blanket
paenula and fibula
patera, stitula, and canteen
ceramic jug and drinking cup
spice jar and daily ration of red wheat-berries
oil lamps and flint striker
writing tablet (inscribed with alea iacta est)
two kinds of sling bullets
coin purse with actual coins,
and fascia ventralis.
. . details and pictures below.
of the Furca (marching kit)
Two wooden poles fitted together by grinding out, using files and sanding
out an area measured out and centered. After the fitting was completed
on the two wood poles, the two pieces were joined together by first
gluing them and then using two screws and then leather wrapped. All
three measures taken make for a very strong and durable baggage support
apparatus able to hold up to any hard march. The entire T bar piece
was then weathered to give it an old used look. The old "Marius
Mule pole," you might say.
A basic red wool sleeping blanket strapped to T bar at the top that
was used at the fortress's bed or camp bed or for the ground.
actual military paenula has been found, but there is
ample proof in military sculpture that these were common and
they are best described as a hooded cape.
show a button (toggle) and loop connection holding them onto
the wearer and this one has been made this way.
could also double as an extra blanket on cold nights.
could also fold them back over your shoulders to keep your arms
usable while still wearing the paenula hanging down in
front and back.
Patera (cooking pan)
The piece has been weathered and aged so most of the natural beauty
has vanished for this reason.
Stitula (cooking pot)
Brass pot with tinned interior for cooking around the fire. Also weathered.
leather furca bag (pera)
This leather case or bag is seen repeatedly on Trajan's column hanging
from the T-shaped furca bars. They have X-shaped reinforcements
and are incredibly strong.
These are seen all over Trajans column hanging from the T bar.
of the pera bag
Red wool is believed to be the color worn by legionaries for battle
use only, based on the latest studies done by Graham Sumner. It is packed
away in the leather carrying case.
Legionaries were very attached to the Mithras religion and most soldiers
would have carried a household god with them of some sort for individual
prayers when away from the Mithras cave temple at their base. This terricotta
statue of Mithras is aged and wrapped in red wool with leather ties
and stored in the leather case for protection.
Terricotta drinking cup
Legionaries were big on drinking and would have had more than just a
canteen to drink out of around the camp fire or fortress. This is also
stored in the leather bag and wrapped in red wool and leather ties for
of the net bag
Daily ration of red wheat berries
A soldiers "one day" meal was contained, for protection, in
one of the linen bags mentioned above and stored in the net bag.
This particular oil lamp is decorated, weathered and aged and has also
been wrapped in red wool with leather ties for protection and is stored
in the net bag.
This small jar with cork lid could be made to hold salt, pepper or any
other small spice a soldier would like. It has been wrapped in red wool
and tied with leather ties for field protection and is in the net bag.
Writing tablet and stylus
Period wax tablet authentically recreated in hollowed out wood with
beeswax, and an excellent bronze stylus. Very Nice! The inside has a
special message I wrote in Latin. "ALEA JACTA EST" It translates
into "The die has been cast" which is what Caesar is quoted
as having said as he crossed the Rubicon. It is wrapped in red wool
with leather ties and is stored in the net bag.
Roman duck handled spoon
Pewter Roman style spoon copied from finds in England.
Roman sling bullets in lead
Two versions of cast Roman sling bullets are included. One says ITAL,
the second COHORS II.
Roman dice have been found all over the empire and Roman soldiers even
threw dice to see who got the robe of Jesus at the cross. These are
fired clay ceramic dice, numbered in the Roman style.
This iron fire starter is a direct copy from a Roman original flint
striker. I have encased it in it's own tiny Roman design leather bag
with leather tie down to protect it from moisture and rust. The leather
bag has been aged and the iron flint striker blackened.
Spouted jug from Israel
This particular jug was used as an olive oil or any other liquid
pourer by the Romans. Based on real originals found n Nazareth, Judea
Leather coin bag with money included
Braccae (Roman breeches)
Roman pants started being used by the Roman due to their contacts with
Barbarian peoples and became quite common among legionaries as well
it all together: His look "on the march"
legionary is wearing a wool tunic and focale, has a hand-made
leather scutum cover and weather-antiqued pilum, pompeii gladius,
cingulum, pugio and baldric.
am especially proud of this weathered cingulum. The brass
plates have black inlay, as do the discs.
Roman armor may have looked on long campaigns
Pictures from WWII of victorious American GI's walking through the Arc
d'Triumph in Paris show men in perfect uniforms, clean pressed shirts
and pants, all carrying the same weapons and wearing the same perfect
helmets which matched all the government war posters of the time. This
type of perfection has always been portrayed in official War Bond funds
raisers and recruiting posters through Korea and Vietnam.
Vietnam film footage shows soldiers fighting many times without wearing
their helmets or shirtless, some even had their sleeves rolled up to
the arm pits, writings or drawing on their helmets and weapons were
also seen a lot, etc. The graffiti or nose art painted on WW II bombers
had to be removed or painted over before these planes could fly back
to the states as this was not how the Army Air Corp. wanted to be portrayed
to its citizens as these heroes returned home.
WW II German uniforms which looked so dashing in official posters did
not always tell the whole truth. Many of the uniforms worn by the U-Boat
sailors were captured British uniforms abandoned at Dunkirk. They also
made unofficial metal decals of their cartoonish looking submarine mascots
and would wear them on their hats or on their uniforms and even painted
these mascots on their subs. Most of these mascots looked like Walt
Disney cartoon characters.
veteran Roman soldier of some 20 odd years, fighting in the forest of
Germany during a 10 year campaign against the Germans, Dacians or Marcomanni
may not have looked anything like the shiny soldiers we so often reenact.
While we get so much of our information about Roman armor from the art
of the time, metal armor of any type would not be colored rust brown
in Roman mosaics for the simple fact that the artist would be trying
to convey the fact or trying to show the viewer that the armor was indeed
metal and not leather.
One should 'never say never' as there is still no archaeological proof
that curved rectangular shields were ever used by the legionaries of
the first and second centuries AD and the only one that has been found
dates to later third century which most agree was a period when everyone
says they used flat and oval shields. Many of the legionary shields
from the Adamklissi monument look more Augustan. The only consistent
thing about the Roman legions is their inconsistency. I had the same
problems collecting and studying ancient coins and artifacts for 24
years. Interpretations and new studies always changed accepted past
Final Thought: Please do not get me wrong, I am not saying that
this was the standard look of a legionary. I think the vast majority
of the time, they had to keep their armor clean and shiny. My home town
of San Antonio, Texas has many military bases and my brother was a Vietnam
veteran. However, reality demands that we accept the difference in appearance
of a soldier on base in San Antonio, and how that same soldier may have
looked on Hamburger Hill in 1969. Same army, same uniform, but the situation
and environment will always make it necessary for a soldier to adapt
the best he can.
dramatic example of rust-oil patina on real armor:
ancient Romans armor was not like we use today. Our thickness for Lorica
Segmentatas is based on medieval armor. The actual thickness of the
Corbridge armor is between 20 to 22 gauge and not 16 to 18 gauge like
every one uses today. I have held many Lorica segmentata fittings in
my hands over the years due to my hobby of collecting military artifacts.
They are very very very light duty. I am talking about the J-
hooks used on the front and back as well as the decorative hinges. The
Romans hammered and mixed 50% iron ore with 50% charcoal. This actually
gave the armor more strength and would darken it some as well. That
way 20 to 22 gauge iron would be just as strong as 16 to 18 gauge modern
iron. Also iron could be darkened in other ways, such as heat. Blued
or blacked iron makes for a better rust resistant ability then most
think. I blued some iron one time just to practice making an even color.
One area was too dark. It was very difficult to rub off the darker blue
in order to make it match the other blue.