A Core Difference! The Varying Hoplite Shield Designs and their Effects on Economic Value, Performance and Combat Effectiveness

In: International Journal of Military History and Historiography
Kevin Rowan De GrooteIndependent Scholar and Archaeologist, London, UK,

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Despite the vast research undertaken on hoplite warfare, surprisingly little is known about how hoplite shields were made, the very technology underpinning the transformative military reforms of hoplite warfare. The few forays that have explored the manufacturing process have been isolated and unintegrated studies leading to an often simplistic and superficial uniformity of production model which does not reflect the evidence. This article analyses the physical remains of extant hoplite shields and finds a plurality of different designs in concurrent use with core compositional differences that likely impacted combat performance and economic value with some designs performing better than others. Moreover, the use and availability of different shield designs of variable quality and economic value suggests a wider range of socioeconomic diversity in hoplite armies and among hoplites than is generally assumed.

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