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The parma was about 36 inches (91 cm) across (or less) and had iron in its frame, making it a very effective piece of armor. Parmas had handles and shield bosses (umbos).
The parma was used by legionnaires in the early republican period of Rome's history, by the lowest class division of the army— the velites. Their equipment consisted of a parma, javelin, sword and helmet. Later, the parma was replaced by the body-length scutum as velites were phased out with the Marian reforms.
In the Pyrrhic dance it was raised above the head and struck with a sword so as to emit a loud ringing noise.
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