A Helmet on that Noggin'

By: James Monahan

Even during the ancient times, man already knew the importance of protecting one’s head with helmets. He could afford damage to any part of his body. But if he was to receive a blow to the head, that could prove to be fatal. Helmets, therefore, were developed to keep their heads from any sharp blows and damage.

During those days, warlike tribes roamed the earth looking for territory to occupy. Fierce battles were not uncommon. And these early armies quickly learned that those who came to battle fully prepared usually walked away from them in one piece.

To earn a decided advantage in these conflicts, they decided to develop weapons to increase the damage they dealt, and armor to decrease the damage they received.

These people learned that the head was most vulnerable to sharp swings of bladed weapons, punctures from arrows, and the dull thwack of blunt instruments. To protect against such, these people used rudimentary helmets.

The Sumerians, a warlike tribe that thrived in 3000 B.C., where the first to use helmets to war. Their tight-fitting helmets were made of beaten copper to protect against sudden blow to the head.

The Assyrians, on the other hand, had helmets that were cone-shaped. These helmets also had small earflap to protect against undue damage to the soft ear tissue.

The ancient Greeks went a step further by developing bronze helmets that covered the entire head. These helmets would only have a Y-shaped slit to allow the soldier to see and to breathe. The Romans used a looser helmet that was made of either bronze or iron and had movable cheek pieces.

As the weaponry of the ages improved, so did the armor used to protect against them. Armor during this period tended to be heavy and cumbersome. Some armor made moving around a tremendous task. In fact, the knight’s medieval armor was so thick that the person inside the armor was at risk from fainting due to heat.

The helmets of those days were sturdy and heavy. The faces of their users were complete hidden by a movable visor. Because their faces were hidden it became custom for knights to carry identifying marks on their shields and banners. This led to the development of heraldry.

The Persians used a type of helmet that had a camail, or curtail-like attachment that protected the sides of the face and the neck.

With the advent of guns in the battlefield, plate armor became obsolete. The only part of the armor to survive this revolution was the cuirass (breastplate) and helmet.

As guns replaced swords, men started to rely on foxholes and sandbags to protect them against bullets. Personal armor lost favor in standing armies. However, helmets were still needed to protect the soldier from shrapnel and ricochet. These helmets were now made of steel to provide better protection and mobility.

Nowadays, helmets are still used as standard battle gear. They are may be made out of steel or other material that protects against high-velocity projectiles and shrapnel.

The most practical use of helmets today is in construction work and other industries that employ the use of a hard hat. These hats are made of tough plastic that protects construction workers and miners from debris.

Also, skateboard, bicycle and motorcycle riders turn to helmets to protect them against crashes.

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James Monahan is the owner and Senior Editor of HelmetsIndex.com and writes expert articles about helmets.

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