This page includes information that may not reflect the current views and values of the Penn Museum.

History of Warfare
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 (MS 1608, MS 1534).
H. 6.5; L. 6.0; W. 5.5 cm.
Photo courtesy Public Information Office, Univ. of Pennsylvania Museum (99k)

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 countersiege 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).

Bronze ´Piceno-Corinthian´ Helmet
ca. 550 BC
Ascoli Piceno (ancient Asculum), Italy, Tomb of the Warrior
MS 1534
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.
H. 25.0; L. 24.6; W. 19.0 cm. UM neg. G6-10872 (132k)
Bronze ´Corinthian´ Helmet
ca. 600 BC
MS 1608
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.
H. 20.5; L. 21.7; W. 18.9 cm. UM neg. G6-10872 (149k)

© Copyright 2002