With a shield held in front of you, the most valuable and most exposed area to be protected is your head. Helmets were in used during the entire Roman Era, as well as routinely used by their predecessors and opponents.
Researchers have identified five major types of helmets, with large number of subtypes for each.
Common thread of all the helmets is the basic design was obtained from some other people group, adopted, then refined. That fits with a broader pattern I have observed that the Romans were aggressive in adopting good ideas used by enemies which they found helpful.
Galea – plural galeae
Wikipedia provides an introductory overview of galea.
Earliest helmets were simple, with a round shape and small neck guard. These would have been easy to produce and cheaper than the later designs. They were made out of bronze.
The basic design was developed from Celtic helmets.
They apparently had cheek guards as well, since they typically have holes in the sides of the helmet. Reportedly, most of the Montefortino helmets discovered do not have a cheek guard, leading to speculation the cheek guards were made of leather instead of metal.
In The Vikings, Else Roesdahl provides a great description of how economic growth took place during the Viking era and how political development was both possible as a result and was simultaneously required for the growth to continue.
Early on men in an area would gather in “things”, local assemblies to resolve conflicts. Local yarls (rulers or strongmen, vaguely similar to a small city mayor) struggled, schemed, and fought to gain influence over larger areas.
Without a modest level of security and property rights, one dare not risk scarce capital in building a foundry or gather lots of goods for trading.
As regional yarls, or petty kings, gain influence, more stability developed.
The opening comments in all the books I read on the Viking Age explore the limits on our knowledge of the Viking era. Seems to me most of the reliable information has been developed in the last century or so.
Like my discussion of other books on the Vikings and Romans, this series of posts will describe some things I find particularly interesting. My hope is this will be interesting to others as well.
With the series on this book I will start bringing in other things I have learned from previous reading.
Researchers don’t really know that much of the Viking Era
Like other authors, in The VikingsElse Roesdahl points out most of what we know of the Vikings is from contemporary victims of the Vikings or from reports written long after the Viking era ended.
As a result, as the author says, it is difficult, if not impossible
“to distinguish pure fiction from an embellished version of an event…”
and to separate
“improvements and additions to make the story more coherent, from what was once objective reality.”
No, I’m not talking about losses in battle. Disease all the time, famine in bad times, and not quite enough food in normal times were deadly in the ancient world. Not even until the American Civil War was germ theory of disease transmission a known thing. (Update: slight wording changes not identified as such.)
This series of posts by Marian Tupy was kicked off as a response to one writer who disagreed with the assertion that the portion of people living in abject poverty has declined radically starting about 200 years ago. That particular author gives away his worldview by using Marxist terms. Thus we know why he refuses to acknowledge the existence and cause of rapid increases in wealth over the last 200 years. What, oh what, could have possibly caused that change?
I won’t dive in the to the responses. I will however provide a few tidbits from this article for insight of the severity of poverty in the past.
Prior to the 19th century, most people wore clothes made of wool, which not only itched but was also hard to clean, which increased disease transmission.
Keep in mind that concept of germs did not exist and most people lived under the same roof with their livestock, both to prevent theft and for mutual warmth. The animal droppings were used for fertilizer. All of that shot mortality rates skyhigh.