The body armor presented on a Roman Legionnaire, whether on ancient statues, modern re-enactors, or illustrations is usually the scaled plate armor referred to as Lorica Segmentata, a phrase that has been in use only since the 16th century.
The armor consists of horizontal scales, sort of like a lobster. Additional plates protect the shoulders.
Wikipediasays the insides of the plates were soft steel and the outside mild steel. The individual plates were hung on a leather harness with brass buckles. Later on rivets or hooks were used.
The armor fastened in front and back. The sections could be stored inside each other, allowing for compact storage.
Legionnaires in the Roman army wore marching boots, called caligae (singular caliga). These may appear to be merely an open sandal. However, they were sturdy enough to wear all day, every day, even on long marches.
A thick lower sole would be attached to a mid sole with hobnails. This added strength to the boot and increased its durability. (I don’t know enough about shoe construction but that is the comment made by several sources.)
For a conception of what hobnailed Roman caligae might look like, consider this photo of a hobnailed boot of the U.S. Union Army. The boot is thus circa 1861 to 1865.
Roman soldiers would wear a belt around their waist.
I have not seen much discussion on the purpose of the belt. It would be the base for carrying some items. For example, a dagger, called a puglio, would be on the left side. A money pouch could be carried on the belt, I suppose.
See update below for comments on purpose of a balteus.
The gladius is a short sword, about 2 feet long, used by soldiers in the Roman army. In the hands of trained legionnaires, the gladius was a potent offensive weapon.
Roman soldiers would advance side-by-side with their shield, called a scutum, held in their left hand and a gladius in their right hand. In this position, the sharp tip of the gladius was best used as a thrusting weapon to stab the enemy, aiming for the torso. In ancient times, an abdomen wound was usually fatal.
With a two foot length and sharp double edges, the gladius could also be used as for slashing or cutting. From comments I’ve read, the main use was for thrusting.
The Sumerians developed the chariot, which was heavy and pulled by wild donkeys, or onagers. The wheels were solid. With that weight and propulsion, it was slow and cumbersome.
The Egyptians refined the concept, using spoked wheels made with bentwood construction and pulled by domesticated horses. This reduced weight and increased speed. Moving the axle to the rear of the chariot improved stability. Their chariots were fast and maneuverable.
Those chariots were also expensive.
The supporting logistics train required plenty of skilled craftsmen. The book says the following trades were needed to get chariots in the field:
Wheel makers (wheelwrights)
Bow makers (bowyers)
And in the field there would be people to manage the herds of horses and repair chariots.
Ongoing access to lots of light and heavy woods was needed, such as the cedars from Lebanon.
From the report and pictures, the sword appears to be in wonderful condition. It was found at 5,380 feet above sea level in a spot which would be frozen and under snow about six months a year. Article says there would be low humidity in the summer. That provides the environment allowing this sword to be so well preserved.
Adrian Goldsworthy provides a good description of a Roman shield, called a scutum, in his book The Complete Roman Armyon page 129. A well-preserved shield was found at Dura Europus that dates from the 3rd century.
The shield is 3’ 3” tall by 2’ 8” wide in a curved shape.
It is two inches thick, consisting of three layers of wood glued together.
Note: A number of additional comments have been added since this article was initially posted. Additions will not all be identified as such. Any corrections will be clearly labeled.