The helmet is an indispensible part of the panoply of every troop type heavier than archers, and few helmet types are effective without at least some metal. In early days, with crude metal-working techniques, helmets had to be cast, and therefore had to be bronze. But by the Archaic Period improvements in technology allowed steel to be forged into first the simplest and later steadily more elaborate helmets.

Pilos helmet


The pilos is a simple one-piece conical or domed helmet, and was the first type to be cast in bronze and then, much later, the first type to be forged from a single piece of steel. In the Archaic Period the proliferation of cheap steel pilos helmets together with laminate cuirasses drives the rise of the middle-class hoplite militia, and with it much social and political change.

Composite helmet

The first essay at replacing expensive bronze with inexpensive steel in making helmets, composite helmets consisted of a riveted circlet of steel (sometimes with a nasal) with one or more arches of steel bent over the crown and riveted to the circlet. The triangular gores between the arches were filled in with panels usually of waxed leather.

The composite helmet is already obsolescent in the Archaic Period.


Bethanian helm


The Bethanian helm is a helmet with a nasal and cheek-pieces originally cast in one piece, and later forged from a single piece of steel. The type was introduced by the Leshy, and was originally widely worn in the civilised parts of Gehennum. It earned its "Bethanian" name because it was retained in conservative Bethan after the Samariosian, Skyran, and Theklan varieties developed and took over in other parts. Bethanian helms are worn by the Iron Stone Men and other hoplites from Bethan (in the Archaic Period).

Skyran helm

The Skyran helm developed from the so-called Bethanian helm when the cheek pieces were enlarged and attached to the crown of the helmet with hinges. This attachment was originally devised to work around early difficulties in forging a steel helmet in one piece, but it turned out to allow a closer fit than was possible with the Samariosian helm, and resulted in a practical helm affording a good compromise of protection with visibility. Some (especially older) variants have a nasal, but later specimens have instead a projecting bill over the eyes.

Popular in the Archaic Period, Skyran helms were gradually replaced by the Samariosian type, it being felt that protection was more important than vision in the tightly-packed hoplite phalanx. Skyran helmets made a comeback in the Civil War when they were issued to the Melankreuthēs, then in the Classical Period when they were issued to the Arētē. They are preferred by makhētēs, and therefore are common among agema in the Decadent Period.


Samariosian helm


The Samariosian helm developed from the so-called Bethanian helm by the gradual enlargement of the nasal, cheek-pieces, and neck-guard, eventually resulting in a fully-enclosed type that gives excellent protection but allows mere slits for vision and breathing. These are favoured by such hoplites as can afford them, because vision is not at a premium in the tightly-packed phalanx.

The elaborate shape of the Samariosian helm originally required casting, and therefore bronze. The type went into decline as improving ironworking allowed simpler types (such as the pilos and Theklan helmet) and helmets in joined parts (like the Skyran helm) to be made in cheaper steel. Further improvements in ironworking allowed Samariosian helms to be forged from a single sheet, and the type made a recovery.

Samariosian helms are favoured by hoplites, and are a status symbol.

Theklan helmet

A type of inexpensive, mass-produced steel helmet without face-protection, worn by poor hoplites from the Theklan hegemony in the Archaic Period, and by soldiers in low-prestige units in the Classical Period and the Decadent Period.

A Theklan helmet is formed from a single sheet of steel (or, sometimes, brass) by hammering it over a post to raise a dome in the middle. The edge is folded to produce a brim over the eyes, a neck-guard etc., with folds disposed so that the helmet can be tied in place with a thong or cord.


Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.