Lamellar was a type of armor used in ancient societies all over the world from Asia to Europe. The earliest types of lamellar were made of bronze and were held together with lacing of varying types of leather, silk, etc. Later, the armor was made of iron and steel, but was still laced together. Lamellar was also made of studded leather, bamboo scales etc.
Lamellar wasn't just made of metal plates. It was also made with leather and bamboo scales. In Japan, this was a cheaper way to make a massive amount of armor for large amounts of Samurai, and was actually far more typical than ones made with metal, due to it being both cheaper and lighter.
Lamellar offered protection against slashes and blunt force trauma. Leather lamellar was weaker than metal lamellar in terms of defending capabilities and was particularly more useful only when defending against arrows and bolts and lighter weapons such as swords. The key advantages of leather lamellar and scale lamellar were their light weight and the availability of the required materials. They could made be made quickly for a cheap price, making them ideal for ancient and medieval kingdoms that had to deploy a large army over a vast region, like the Chinese empires. The availability of leather made leather lamellar the armor of choice of nomadic tribes. Steel lamellar offered adequate protection from slashes, stabs and blunt force trauma, as well as from projectile attacks. According to the show, the steel lamellar used by important leaders and generals (such as Genghis Khan) was so effective that it was later used as the inspiration for modern day body armors. Historically, metal lamellar became common among the average soldier as industry allowed mass production of metal plates.
Lamellar was not as effective against thrusting attacks. The main disadvantage of lamellar was its lack of durability. Because it was held together with lacing, the fabrics tended to fray and the individual scales would start to fall out. Also, high humidity could cause the lacing to begin to fail. Lamellar's weakness against stabs was not due to weak material, but to the fact the small individual parts would spread apart and allow weapons through. While new and well kept armor could stop initial stabs, over a prolonged fight the lacing would begin to wear out and cause failure. Also, the lacing could be cut if repeatedly slashed in a fight and could cause failures, as well.
In Deadliest Warrior
In Deadliest Warrior, a number of warriors wear lamellar armor. Leather lamellar was worn by the Ming Warrior, Attila the Hun, Sun Tzu, and the Mongol. The Persian Immortal employed lamellar made from bronze scales. Steel lamellar was used by the Samurai and Genghis Khan. The various tests run against these armors demonstrate lamellar's, particularly leather and bronze scale lamellar's, weaknesses to thrusting weapons and repeated slashes. The leather lamellar proved to be particularly effective only when defending against bolts and arrows. The steel lamellar proved to be considerably effective against slashing, thrusting and piercing attacks but was comparatively weak against bludgeoning attacks.