Weapons and Armor
East Greek Hoplite Aryballos
ca. 600&endash;570 BC
This little container, intended to hold perfume or scented unguents, gives a
naturalistic impression of a warrior's face staring out from behind his
protective helmet. Compare this Ionian helmet type, with its separately attached
cheek pieces, with the bronze examples
Photo courtesy Public Information Office, Univ. of Pennsylvania Museum
Greek weaponry and armor underwent
a continuous evolution in design from the Bronze Age to the Byzantine period.
The arms with which the individual foot soldier was normally equipped included
various combinations of swords, spears, javelins, bows and arrows, and
sling-propelled pellets. Mechanical stone and bolt-throwers played an
increasingly important role in siege and counter siege tactics during the 4th
century BC and later. Catapults were either torsional machines or bow-driven.
The basic elements of body armor
consisted of a shield (hoplon, from which comes the name hoplite
for the Greek infantryman), helmet, cuirass or breastplate, and separate arm,
thigh, lower leg and foot protectors. As time went on, the arm, leg and foot
protectors were discarded in order to permit greater mobility. The word for an
individual soldier's equipment of weapons and armor is panoply. Made
from a combination of materials including iron and bronze, it could be very
expensive (as much as the equivalent of a modern car according to some experts).
ca. 550 BC
Ascoli Piceno (ancient Asculum), Italy, Tomb of the Warrior
This helmet originally carried a detachable horsehair crest. In perhaps
a local modification by the Piceni, a tribe of central Italic people on
the Adriatic coast northeast of Rome, the protective cheek and lower jaw
pieces are formed from a single sheet of bronze. The nose piece has been
restored from another helmet.
ca. 600 BC
The most common type of helmet in use during the Archaic period. Beaten
out of a single sheet of bronze, it provided good protection to the
forehead, nose and cheek areas. The two cheek pieces are separated to
leave a gap exposing the mouth. Its shape only approximates the contours
of the human skull, necessitating a fur or felt lining.