This type of shield comes from Italy, where it was spread, probably even in the Bronze Age. In particular, in Etruria, near Vetulonia, in one of the graves of the Poggio-alla-Tuardia necropolis, which dates back to the 8th century. BC e., found a sculptural image of the shield, almost no different from the later Roman scutum. Later it was widely used by the Celts, Iberians and Illyrians.
Around the beginning of IV. BC e. It was used by the Roman legionnaires instead of the Argive Hoplay shield (about the same time the Romans abandoned the phalanx of the Greek sample). By the time of the civil wars in Rome, Scootum took the form of an oval with a straight top and base, and gradually became completely rectangular. This latter type of scutum is widely known for its monuments from the time of the Empire. In the III. n e. The scutum is gradually replaced by a flat oval shield (the so-called auxilius shield), to which the old name was extended. Later, armed with a large oval shield, the heavy infantry of the Byzantines was called Skutata (shield bearers).
In ancient times, had an oval or quadrangular convex (covering the body) shape. The so-called Samnite gladiators are depicted with an oval scutum with a cut off tip. Often amplified by a vertical edge of wood and in this case could not have an umbon. Umbon was made of iron or bronze and could have various forms (metal strip, oval, "winged", "butterfly", etc.).
The Roman scutum of the times of the Republic measured about 75 cm wide, about 1.2 m high, and weighed 8-10 kg. According to Polybius, it was made of two wooden plates glued together, which were covered first with coarse cloth and then calfskin. This type of scutum, found in the Fayum oasis, which is 1.28 m high and 63.5 cm wide, is made of birch plates. Nine-ten such thin plates 6-10 cm wide were laid out longitudinally and laid on both sides with a layer of narrower plates arranged perpendicularly to the first. Then all three layers were glued together. Thus was formed the wooden base of the shield. At the edge, its thickness was slightly less than a centimeter, increasing to the center up to 1.2 cm. Such shields were covered with felt, which was doubled at the edge and stitched through wood. The handle of the shield was horizontal and held full grip. This type of pen is clearly visible on many Roman monuments. Polybius adds that such a shield had an iron umbon and an iron upholstery along the top and bottom edges.
Considering the rounded shape of the shield, the only handle on the inner side of the umbon and the swords that Roman legionnaires wore not on the left, but on the right side, it should be assumed that the shield was held not in front of the chest, but along the left side, and the Roman legionary crowded the enemy, leaning on shield shoulder and helping yourself with a short sword, which with such use of the shield is more convenient to wear it to the right.
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Made for a newspaper illustration.
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