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The rise and development of segmented helmets in the later Roman to early Byzantine army
Armor & Shields | Tools of War | The Roman Military
Armor is one of the most important part of any soldier's equipment. This holds true today, and was true for the soldiers of Rome. The technology of armor has changed, but the principle remains the same: protect the wearer during battle. While modern armor is mainly centered around protecting against bullets, the armor of Rome was designed to protect mainly against projectiles such as spears or javelins, arrows, swords, or daggers.
Roman Army - 160 BCE
Legionaries with scutum and helmets.
Image courtesy of Legio XX.
The armor of the Roman army around 160 BC was mainly comprised of a shield, the scutum, and body armor that varied depending on rank and position, consisting of a breastplate and one greave, on the left leg. The scutum was a curved oval shield made from two sheets of wood glued together and covered with canvas and leather, usually with a spindle shaped boss along the vertical length of the shield. It can be considered a body shield, and was extremely heavy (
10kg). When a legionary charged with the shield, he would hold it with a straight arm and rest it on his left shoulder, then run towards the enemy with full force in an attempt to knock his foe over. He would then kneel behind the shield and fight from behind it. An example of this type of shield was found at Kasr El Harit in the Fayum in Egypt. It is 1.28m long and 63.5cm wide, and is constructed of laminated birch. Nine or ten strips of birch from 6-10cm wide were glued in-between two layers of thinner strips laid out perpendicular to the middle layer. The shield is thickest in the center (1.2cm), and is slightly less than a centimeter thick at the edges. The shield was covered with felt which was stitched through the wood. The grip was horizontal, and was meant to be held from the top. This type of shield probably also commonly featured an iron edging on the top and bottom rims. The shields of the legionary had to be of regulation size, and a soldier could be severely reprimanded if his shield was too large.
Body armor of the principes (heavy infantry), hastati (front-line soldiers), and triarii (veterans) consisted of only a 20cm square breastplate, called a heart guard (pectorale), and one greave. The one greave was worn on the left leg, the leg that was exposed during battle. The pectorale was either square or round. Wealthier soldiers wore mail shirts that were very heavy, weighing about 15kg. This weight was quite a problem in the account of the battle of Lake Trasimene, where soldiers that tried to swim away were drowned by their armor. The principes and hastati also wore a bronze helmet with a ring of three black or purple feathers about 45cm high. This was to make each man look twice his height.
The velites (lightly armed soldiers) wore no armor at all, except a plain helmet. Sometimes decorated with wolf skin or some other unique mark so that the centurions could recognize them from a distance and judge their skill in battle.
Cavalry was equipped in the Greek fashion, with a cuirass and round shield (parma equestris). They also wore a mail shirt identical to that of the legionaries, aside from a split in the middle that allowed them to sit on a horse.
Roman Army - 100 BCE to 200 CE
By the first century CE the method of recruitment had changed: recruitment was now open to all citizens, regardless of wealth. Previously the system was based on wealth, and the light-armed velites were drawn from the poorest class, because all soldiers were financially responsible for their own armor. With the new open recruitment, the government had to provide cheap, mass-produced armor, for which the deductions were made in the soldier's pay. The quality of this work is evident in helmets from the period, which are very poorly made, utilizing every shortcut possible.
Helmets were of several types. The older Montefortino helmet was bowl shaped, with a topknot that was filled with lead, and a hole for insertion of a feather. The Coolus type helmet was a round bronze helmet with a small neck guard, and the Port type, which was an iron helmet with a long neck guard. The Port type had a topknot that was adapted to hold the crest, and the helmet later became what is known as the imperial Gallic type. The Gallic type enlarged the neck guard further, and included metal cheek-guards, which protected the face. It also featured a reinforced rib along the forehead to protect against downward slashes. After the Coolus type disappeared in the middle of the first century, and from then on all helmets were made of bronze.
Senior officers dressed in the Greek style, with a muscled cuirass, helmet and greaves. Under the cuirass he wore a tunic made of leather with strips of leather or fabric hanging from the waist and shoulders. The officer wore a sash around his waist which is knotted in the front, with the loose ends tucked up at either side. This was the Greek symbol of high rank.
Legionaries in lorica segmentata.
Image courtesy of Legio XX.
The standard armor of the first century was the lorica segmentata, which was a segmented armor. It was constructed of strips of iron joined together with hooks or straps. It covered the chest and shoulders, affording good protection from spears, missiles, and swords. It has decorative hinges which served no purpose. The lorica segmentata weighed about 9kg.
The scutum underwent an evolution, first with the top and bottom getting squared off, then becoming a completely rectangular, curved shield. The faces of the shields were often decorated with patterns that identified a particular unit.
The armor of the Roman Army was one of the many factors that made it the best fighting force in the world.
Mycenaen Greek Boar Tusk Helmets
Fans of Homer’s Iliad will recognize this text “ Meriones gave Odysseus a bow, a quiver and a sword, and put a cleverly made leather helmet on his head. On the inside there was a strong lining on interwoven straps, onto which a felt cap had been sewn in. The outside was cleverly adorned all around with rows of white tusks from a shiny-toothed boar, the tusks running in alternate directions in each row.” We know that these ivory boar’s tusk helmets were used in the Mycenaean world from as early as 17th century BC to 10th century BC. With several discoveries of actual helmets carbon dating back to 14th century BC.
The combination of leather and tusks make for a helmet that provides limited blunt and edge resistance. It may have protected well against slings, and glancing blade edge blows. It is doubtful however that it would have protected well against arrows and direct edged blows.
Most actual helmets found, weigh between 1.2 lbs and 2.5 lbs depending on size and construction. Providing a very lightweight option in comparison to future helmets, even in today's world of light-weight advanced fiber technology.
We have to assume that it was rather comfortable with the leather liner, as we doubt the National Archaeological Museum in Athens where they have one on display would let us try it on!
These ancient Roman Imperial Gallic Helmets were worn from the late 1st century BC – early 2nd century and based on the type of helmet used by the Gauls. These were more decorated than earlier helmets with embossed “eyebrows”. Imperial Gallic Helmets more closely follow the shape of the wearers head with ear cutouts.
Ear protectors are provided and separately attached. They had a re-enforced peak, cheek pieces and a ridged extension at the back as a neck-guard. Mainly made of iron and with with brass decorations. Substantial “hot cross bun” style crossbars were added to these helmets providing additional protection.
The Ribchester Helmet, a Roman artifact discovered by 13-year-old playing behind house
Over the past centuries, archaeologists have unearthed some extraordinary artifacts that give us a glimpse into human history and help us understand the many secrets of the ancient world. Numerous archaeological expeditions have been undertaken over the years, some of which resulted in historically significant discoveries. Yet some of the most exciting finds have been made by non-professionals who stumbled upon them purely by accident. Such is the case with the famous Ribchester Helmet, discovered by chance in 1796.
We are all aware that England is rich with archaeological sites, historical monuments, and important artifacts, especially from the Roman era. Ribchester in the county of Lancashire is a lesser-known site of a Roman fort and settlement. The most famous among the many artifacts discovered in the area is the Ribchester Helmet.
What is today considered one of the most famous helmets from Ancient Rome was discovered by accident in 1796 by a 13-year-old clog maker’s son, who found it while playing behind his house. The helmet was part of a small hoard of metal items, most probably belonging to a Roman soldier from about 120 AD.
Discovered in the summer of 1796 by the son of Joseph Walton who was playing behind his father’s house in Ribchester, Lancashire. Author: Carole Raddato – CC BY-SA 2.0 / Author: Rex Harris – CC BY-SA 2.0
This two-piece ceremonial helmet, worn by Roman cavalrymen during military exercises and during parades and other ceremonies, weighs nearly three pounds and was most likely of little or no practical use on the battlefield. However, the Romans, who are known for engaging in a variety of sporting competitions, also used this type of helmet during the cavalry sports events known by the name of “hippika gymnasia,” where these helmets were used to mark ranks and excellence in horsemanship.
Although Julius Caesar first paid a visit to Britain in 55 BC, it actually took almost 100 years before Romans landed on the beaches in Kent to conquer Britain in 43 AD. The Roman occupation influenced almost every sphere of life in Britain, including culture, language, geography, and architecture. They built many new roads, numerous settlements, and countless forts, including the one at Ribchester.
The visor-mask and crown are covered with relief scenes of skirmishes between infantry and cavalry. Such helmets were impractical for actual fighting and were worn by Roman cavalrymen on the occasion of “cavalry sports‟ events. Author: Helen Simonsson – CC BY-SA 2.0
What we know today about this type of Roman helmet is mostly thanks to the accounts left by Arrian of Nicomedia, who was a provincial governor and a close friend of Emperor Hadrian. As written in his Techne Taktike, which focuses on the “hippika gymnasia,” the best soldiers wore these helmets in cavalry tournaments.
Only three Roman helmets with a covering over the face have been found in the UK. Author: Rex Harris – CC BY-SA 2.0
Called Bremetennacum Veteranorum, the Roman settlement and fort in Ribchester was built during the reign of Emperor Vespasian in the early 70s AD. Apart from the remains of Ribchester Roman Fort and the Roman bathhouse that can be seen today, there is also a Roman Museum where visitors can see a replica of the Ribchester Helmet.
The famous artifact is one of only three of its kind ever found in Britain, but it is considered to be the highest quality example. The second was found around 1905 and is now housed at the Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh. The third, known as the Crosby Garrett Helmet, was found in a field in 2010 by a metal detectorist who wants to remain anonymous. It was sold at auction for $3.6 million.
Since 1814, the original helmet is on display at the British Museum, but the Roman Museum in Ribchester has a replica. Author: Helen Simonsson – CC BY-SA 2.0
The Ribchester Helmet was clearly the most significant, but not the only artifact discovered back in 1796. The same hoard included many military and religious items, plates, pieces of a vase, and other items. It is believed that the finds that were placed there for over 16 centuries were in such good condition because they were covered in sand.
As mentioned above, you can see a replica of the Ribchester Helmet in the Roman Museum in Ribchester, and for those of you who want to see the original, you need to visit the British Museum in London, where the helmet has been on exhibition since 1814.
Chalcidian: The Lighter Ancient Greek Helmet
Chalcidian type Helmet , 350-250 BC (left) with Chalcidian type Helmet , 350-250 BC (right)
As the nature of warfare changed a new Ancient Greek helmet was developed some time during the second half of the Sixth Century BC. Greek armies began to incorporate more cavalry and lightly armed troops into their ranks, so that pitched battle between evenly matched phalanxes became rarer. As a result, it was necessary for soldiers to have a better perception of the battlefield. The result was the Chalcidian helmet which restricted the senses less than the Corinthian helmet but provided more protection than the Illyrian helmet. Early examples of Chalcidian helmets were very similar to the Corinthian helmet and likely were initially produced alongside them in the same workshops. The Chalcidian helmet has one of the widest geographic distribution ranges of excavated Ancient Greek helmets. Examples have been found from Spain to the Black Sea, and as far north as Romania.
Chalcidian type Helmet, 500-400 BC (left) with Chalcidian type Helmet, 475-350 BC, Arges riverbed at Budesti, Romania (right)
The Chalcidian type Ancient Greek helmet was essentially a lighter and less restrictive form of Corinthian helmet. Its cheek pieces were less pronounced than those of the Corinthian helmet and were either rounded or curvilinear. Later Chalcidian helmets had hinged cheek pieces that were anatomically formed to fit closely to the face. The cheekpieces tended to curve upward towards the eye, where there were large circular openings that provided a wider field of view than did Corinthian helmets. Chalcidian helmets also always featured an opening for the ear and a neck guard, which conformed closely to the contours of the back of the neck and terminated in a flanged lower border. Chalcidian helmets are largely characterized by their cheek pieces so that most of the many surviving examples can be divided into several distinct regional types.
Roman Segmented Helemts - History
All of our functional Medieval Armours you can choose which type of steel you would like it made from and can be made in different gauges of steel. All our Medieval Armor are fully functional and are adjustable for a comfortable fit. We have a variety of options that you can choose from to design your Medieval Armours.
This page highlights full medieval armor wearable. All the medieval armor are handmade in Italy and each armor sets up in minutes on its own wood base. Our medieval replica armor follow original designs very closely of the museums. Each Medieval armor comes complete with stand on its own wood base as show.
The Functional Armour during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance have undergone many changes, because in the Middle Ages the art of making medieval battle ready Armour was highly developed, the various knights and nobles of the time had developed his own style in the armor, as if they participate in a competition well as military also style. And it is for this reason that in the section medieval armor is so large and full of different styles. This armours is produced in Italy, faithful to the ancient artisan tradition of Italian gunsmiths, from the Middle Ages that has been passed down from generation to generation and has come down to us.
This page highlights medieval armor decorative. All the medieval armor are handmade in Italy or Spain and each armor sets up in minutes on its own wood base.
Each Medieval armor comes complete with stand on its own wood base as show.
A Functional Cuirass and breastplate is a device worn over the torso to protect it from injury. All of our functional Cuirasses and breastplate, you can choose which type of steel you would like it made from.
The Cuirass refer to the complete torso-protecting armour.
The Breastplate is the front portion of plate armour covering the torso
The breastplate is the front portion of plate armour covering the torso, in ancient times was usually made of leather, bronze or iron in antiquity.
Around 1000 AD knights of the period were wearing mail in the form of a hauberk over a padded tunic.
During the 13th century, Plates protecting the torso, plates directly attached to a knightly garment known as the surcoat. True breastplates reappear in Europe in 1340 first composed of wrought iron and later of steel.
Around 1400, these early breastplates only covered the upper torso with the lower torso not being protected by plate until the development of the Fauld (Faulds) are a piece of plate armour worn below a breastplate to protect the waist and hips. They take the form of bands of metal surrounding both legs, potentially surrounding the entire hips in a form similar to a skirt.
Around 1450, the breastplate had expanded to cover the entire torso and could consist of one or two plates: the French term pancier, which became English pauncher and German panzer.
Components of medieval armour - protection of the torso: Breastplate, Brigandine, Cuirass, Culet, Pauncer, Plackart, Fauld, Hauberk.
All of our functional Medieval Protection of the arms, you can choose which type of steel you would like it made from and can be made in different gauges of steel. All our steel Arm Armour are fully functional and are adjustable for a comfortable fit.
Spaulders are pieces of armour in a harness of plate armour, they are steel covering the shoulder with bands (lames) joined by straps of leather or rivets.
Pauldrons cover the shoulder area, tend to be larger than spaulders, covering the armpit and parts of the back and chest. A pauldron typically consists of a single large dome-shaped piece to cover the shoulder (the "cop") with multiple lames attached to it to defend the arm and upper shoulder. On some suits of armour, especially those of Italian design, the pauldrons would usually be asymmetrical, with one pauldron covering less (for mobility) and sporting a cut-away to make room for a lance rest.
The usage of a lance rest can be more readily gleaned by looking at the French term "arrêt", or "arrest". The lance rest was not used to simply hold the weight of the lance, as the English name might suggest, but to arrest the rearward movement of the weapon.
All of our functional Medieval Protection of the Legs, you can choose which type of steel you would like it made from and can be made in different gauges of steel. All our steel Leg Armour are fully functional and are adjustable for a comfortable fit.
Poleyn - Plate that covers the knee, often with fins or rondel to cover gaps.
Schynbald - Plate that covered only the shins, not the whole lower leg.
Cuisse - Plate that cover the thighs, made of various materials depending upon period.
Sabaton or Solleret - Covers the foot, often mail or plate.
Tasset or Tuille - Bands hanging from faulds or breastplate to protect the upper legs.
These wearable functional Medieval Gauntlets are fully articulated plate armour. You can choose the size, color, steel and gauge thickness. Functional gauntlets with an extended cuff covering part of the forearm. We have a variety of options that you can choose from to design your gauntlets.
Chainmail is a type of armour consisting of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh.
With these rings may form different types of armor: an aventail or camail is a flexible curtain of mail attached to the skull of a helmet that extends to cover the throat, neck and shoulders. Part or all of the face, with spaces to allow vision, could also be covered. Butted Mild Steel, Butted Spring Steel, Round Rings Riveted, Flatring Round Rivets, Flatring Wedge Rivets, Light mail, Roman mail
Gorgets, Bevors, Collins and Chainmail Médiéval, collar designed to protect the throat, a set of pieces of plate armour, or a single piece of plate armour hanging from the neck and covering the throat and chest.
Reproduction medieval shields of iron and wood for historical re-enactment of medieval and exposure. Heraldic shields and almond scapezzati, and also the famous wheels of war with battle scenes engraved with a burin or etching. Battle shields, armor shields to be used with armor, medieval, Shields, cross and shield, Templar shields, medieval shields.
List of the helmets in production: Cervelliere, Spangenhelm, Nasal helmet, Bascinet, Barbute, Close helmet, Combat helmet, Great helm, Coppergate Helmet, Coventry Sallet, Frog-mouth helm, Horned helmet, Kettle hat, Visor (armor).
The Medieval helmet of the ninth and tenth century do not differ substantially from those of the Romans. Typical of this period is the Cervelliere Helmet. Towards the end of the 12th century. He begins the dualism between Bascinet, which is linked to the helmet Cervelliera and from which derive the following helmets to war, and the real combat helmet, which will develop the helmets knight tournament, and parade. In the 13th century. helmet became more closed and eventually cover the entire scalp characteristic is the helmet cylinder-conical holes for breathing, with one or two horizontal slits for the eyes. In the 14th century. the helmet is developing increasingly perfecting the defensive point of view often with the addition of the Cervelliere chainmail was reinforced, which grew into Barbute Bascinet was added to the visor, it is particularly heavy helmets used in the most brutal fighting. This page highlights medieval helmets wearables. Our medieval replica helmet follow original designs very closely of the museums.
reproductions of medieval helmets looks like it came out of a museum.- Medieval Helmets - SALLETS HELMETS
- Elmi Medievali - Elmo Celata o Bigoncia
- Casques Médiévaux - Casques Salade
- Helme Ritterhelme - Schaller Helme
A cervelliere is a helmet hemispherical, close-fitting skull cap of steel, It was worn as a helmet during the medieval period.
Why do Roman helmets have plumes?
The reason behind the use of plumed helmets is that it made spartan soldiers appear much more imposing in battle. The helmet design would be based on the requirement of the type of soldier. There were a couple of basic kinds of helmets created for Spartan soldiers - one with plumes and another with no plume.
Beside above, what was a Roman helmet used for? The Roman helmet served to protect the head. If you look at pictures, they are a reasonably close fit, they have (often) a reinforcing bar on the place most likely to be hit, and what are called cheek pieces &ndash metal flaps which come down and cover the cheeks and some of the chin.
People also ask, what is the red thing on a Roman helmet?
What are the feathers on a Roman helmet called?
- Quora. To the Romans it was known as a Crista (what we now call a Crest). They came in a variety of sizes and shapes: box, curved, brush, forward curving and of varying lengths. Cristas were often made of horsehair though feathers were also used.
Historical Helmets. Perhaps no piece of armour underwent as many changes from Rome to the Renaissance, as the helmet. The helmet or helm was developed to keep up with advances in weaponry of the times. Our store offers a huge variety of historical helmets for you to choose. Our helmet section has early Roman Helmets and Greek helmets. Including Centurion Helmets, Roman Trooper Helmets and Gladiator helms. The Viking and Norman helmet section contains Spangenhelm type helmets, which were usually worn over a mail hood or with an attached mail aventail (neck guard). These type of medieval helmets often had a front nasal, cheek guard and the Viking helmets sometimes had spectacles.
The Medieval Helmet probably went through the most changes of any type of historical helmet. Early Medieval Helmets were an upgraded form of the Norman Helmet in which they started adding a full fixed visor to replace the nasal. These medieval helms, especially the Crusader Helmet, began to flatten out on top and the sides and backs extended to form the Great Helm or barrel helmet. The top of the great helm became rounder to protect from sword blows and became the Bascinet helmet. Visors became movable and went from the flat Klappvisier to the elongated pig face bascinet of the 14th century. During the 15th century we saw helmets such as the open-faced sallet helm, the T Face Barbuta, and the Sallet helm. The medieval Sallet Helm came in a variety of fixed and movable visors with fixed or articulated tails. The final form of the medieval helmet was the armet which developed into the early Renaissance Close helm. These helmets became known as the typical Knights Helmet.
During the Renaissance, weapons advanced more rapidly and as the sword became obsolete, visors faded away for better vision, such as the Comb Morion helmet and open faced Burgonet Helmets. During the later periods, the helmet became more of a symbolic head dress than protective gear. With the onset of the world wars, the helmet once more found its way onto the battlefield and took on the shapes of the earlier medieval sallet helms.
All the historical helmets in this section (with exception of the decorative helmets) can be worn, and many are functional battle ready helmets. Many of our helmets can be made to your measurements and steel thickness needs, to meet your re-enactment group requirements. As with our other armour, these helmets can be used for display with the addition of one of our wooden helmet stands.
Ancient Roman military clothing
Military of the Roman Republic and Empire wore loosely regulated dress and armour. The contemporary concept of uniforms was not part of Roman culture and there were considerable differences in detail. Armour was not standardized and even that produced in state factories varied according to the province of origin. Likewise the Romans had no concept of obsolescence. Provided it remained serviceable, soldiers were free to use armour handed down by family money , buy armour from soldiers who had completed their service or wear discontinued styles of armour if they preferred it to (or could not afford) the latest issue. Thus it was common for legions to wear a mix of various styles that could cover a considerable time period.
Fragments of surviving clothing and wall paintings indicate that the basic tunic of the Roman soldier was of red or undyed (off-white) wool.  Senior commanders are known to have worn white cloaks and plumes. The centurions who made up the long serving backbone of the legions were distinguished by transverse crests on their helmets, chest ornaments corresponding to modern medals and the long cudgels that they carried.