Arms and Armour (‘Hard Kit’)
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Arms and Armour (‘Hard Kit’)

In the past fifty years, Greek and German archaeologists have published quite a bit of information that is not in the older books by Snodgrass or Connolly. The best overview I have seen is an article by Peter Krentz which he summarizes in his book on Marathon:

  • Krentz, Peter (2010) “A Cup by Douris and the Battle of Marathon.” In Garrett Fagan and Matthew Trundle (eds.), New Perspectives on Ancient Warfare (Brill, Leiden) pp. 183-204 {summarized here}
  • Krentz, Peter (2010) The Battle of Marathon. Yale University Press: New Haven.

Neither is illustrated to Connolly, Osprey, or Museum of London standards, but they describe spears, swords, shields, helmets, cuirasses, and greaves all in one place, and everything they say is based on surviving objects and high-quality reconstructions. Josho Brouwers has a good select bibliography in Henchmen of Ares which covers recent publications like the site report on Kalapodi (a temple destroyed in 480 BCE).

A lot of nonsense has been written in English about Greek swords (no, they were not all 40-70 cm long; no, extremely short ones were not just for Laconians; no, the single-edged ones were not ponderous and heavy; yes, there are metallurgical studies). Matthew Amt has a section on swords on his site and he flips through sketches and photos of finds. If you read German and have access to an academic library, track down books and articles by Holger Baitinger, Imma Killian-Dirlmeier, Effi Photos, Hans-Otto Schmitt, and Marek Verčík; whether you do or you don’t, read books and sites by people experimenting with low-tech iron production like Lee Sauder and Darrell Markewitz. Ask around, and look for people who have examined swords found in Greece or read these books by German and Greek archaeologists. A Greek-style sword or cleaver from Spain or Italy is not necessarily the same as one from Greece.

Hans-Otto Schmitt, “Die Angriffswaffen” in Rainer C.S. Felsch, ed., Kalapodi: Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen im Heiligtum der Artemis und des Apollon von Hyampolis in der antiken Phokis, Band II (Philipp von Zabern: Mainz-am-Rhein, 2007) pp. 423-551, Taf. 67-106

I now have a dedicated page on Greek shields and Achaemenid shields (called Shields). I have a post on what wood was used for shields in Iron Age Europe.

I have heard good things about Eo Jarva’s book on Greek helmets and body armour, but its hard to obtain and I have not read it from end to end. The standard reference for helmets is Petros Dintisis’ Hellenistische Helme. The Olympische Forschung volumes Emil Kunze, Beinschienen (1992) and Heide Frielinghaus, Die Helme von Olympia (Vol. 33, 2011) are also essential. A fourth-century BCE scale armour from Golyamata Mogila in Thrace is worth studying. I have an article in Mouseion on how a misremembered, mistranslated passage in a medieval chronicle started the myth that ancient linen armour contained glue.

I have not seen Randall Hixenbaugh’s Ancient Greek Helmets: A Complete Guide and Catalogue. Hermann Historica auction #49 (October 2005) has weights and photos from many helmets from the Axel Guttman collection. Guttman seems to have acquired most of his helmets very late in the 20th century (he died in 2001), so most of them were probably looted within my gentle readers’ lifetimes.

Helmets and armour from the Persian empire are known from Olympia (but just one! National Archaeological Museum, Athens, B 5100), Sardis, Gordion, the Palace of Apries in Egypt, Tell Dafana / Daphnae in Lower Egypt (British Museum EA 23983 c/o Joe Balmos), Deve Hüyük on the Euphrates, Pasargadae, and Persepolis. Cylinder seals and grave monuments from Anatolia are the art most likely to depict them. The Gadal-iama contract is the only text from the empire which definitely mentions iron armour and helmets. Dan D’Silva has an article Armoured Bruiser and I talk about the archaeological evidence for armour in chapter 5 of Armed Force in the Teispid-Achaemenid Empire (= chapter 5 of my PhD thesis).

U-17392 (iron dagger with mineralized wood on blade), U-20042 (iron sword 53 cm long with mineralized wood on grip and blade), U-20044 (iron dagger blade with x-ray) …

25th dynasty Syrian style helmet: Manchester museum, acc. no. 1618, 21 cm search is broken at

Faience model helmet or White Crown of Egypt

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