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Historical Shields: An Overview of Evolution and Timelines


House of the Rising Sun
Staff member
Lifetime Member
As we dive into the rich tapestry of history, it is essential to shed light on one of the pivotal elements of warfare and personal protection: shields. Let's take a historical journey through different epochs and witness the evolution of shields.

#### **Ancient Period (circa 3000 BCE - 500 BCE)**

- **Sumerians and Egyptians (circa 3000 BCE - 2000 BCE)**
- **Round Shields:** Primarily made of wicker or wooden boards covered in hide, used for protecting oneself in melee combat and sometimes equipped by archer units.

- **Mycenaean and Minoan Civilizations (circa 1600 BCE - 1100 BCE)**
- **Figure-8 and Tower Shields:** Distinctive shields that offered extensive body protection, made from wood and covered with hides or metal.

#### **Classical Antiquity (circa 500 BCE - 500 CE)**

- **Greeks (circa 500 BCE - 146 BCE)**
- **Aspis (Hoplon):** A heavy wooden shield covered in bronze, providing excellent protection and used phalanx formations.

- **Romans (circa 753 BCE - 476 CE)**
- **Scutum:** A large rectangular shield made of plywood covered with leather and fortified with iron rims, central to the Roman legionary's defense.

#### **Medieval Period (circa 500 CE - 1500 CE)**

- **Early to High Middle Ages (circa 500 CE - 1000 CE)**
- **Kite Shields:** With a pointed end and a flat top, these shields provided better leg protection and were ideal for cavalry.

- **Late Middle Ages (circa 1000 CE - 1500 CE)**
- **Heater Shields:** Compact, more maneuverable shields with a characteristic V-shape, which became emblematic for heraldic displays.

#### **Renaissance to Early Modern Period (circa 1500 CE - 1800 CE)**

- **Buckler (circa 1500 CE - 1600 CE)**
- **Buckler:** A small round shield gripped in the fist, offering a nimble defense in hand-to-hand combat.

#### **Industrial Age (circa 1800 CE - 1900 CE)**

- **Riot Shields (19th century onwards)**
- **Riot Shields:** In the modern age, shields transitioned into protective gear for law enforcement, being made from transparent polycarbonate materials, providing both protection and visibility.

From the ancient round and figure-8 shields to the robust scutum of the Roman legions, and down to the noble heater shields of medieval knights, shields have undergone a fascinating evolution throughout history. Understanding this history enriches our LARP experiences as we adopt shields grounded in authentic designs and techniques.

Feel free to further explore and add depth to your character by choosing a shield that not only fits the historical context but also aligns with your character's role and style.


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