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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
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
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)
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