Galea (helmet)

Galea (helmet)

A galea was a Roman soldier's helmet. Some gladiators, myrmillos, also wore a bronze galea with a face mask and a decoration, often a fish on its crest. The exact form or design of the helmet varied significantly over time, between differing unit types, and also between individual examples - ancient military equipment was not produced in assembly lines, but made by hand, so it is not certain to what degree there was any standardization even under the Roman Empire.

Originally, Roman helmets were influenced by the neighboring Etruscans, people who utilised the "Nasua" type helmets. The Greeks in the south also influenced Roman design in the early history of Rome. For instance, the ancestor of the Chalcidic helmet, the Attic helmet was widely used by officers until the end of the empire. Lastly, the Gauls were the peoples who most impacted the design of the Roman helmet hence the popular "Imperial Gallic" type helmets. In addition to this, it is commonly thought that the Gauls also introduced chainmail to the Romans.

The primary evidence is scattered archaeological finds, which are often damaged or incomplete. There are similarities of form and function between them.

Helmet types

H. Russell Robinson in his book "The Armour of Imperial Rome", published in 1975, classified into broad divisions the various forms of helmets that were found. He classified four main types of helmets for heavy infantry (with subcategories named with letters) and 30 different types of cheek guards.

Legionary infantry helmets

* Montefortino helmet (4th century BC - 1st century BC)
* Coolus helmet (3rd century BC - at least 79)
* Imperial Gallic helmet (late 1st century BC - early 2nd century)
* Imperial Italic helmet (late 1st BC - early 3rd century)

Helmet crests

Most of the helmets used by legionaries had a crest holder. The crests were usually made of plumes or horse hair.

There is some evidence (Vegetius writings and some sculptures) that legionaries had their crests mounted longitudinally and centurions had them mounted transversally.

There is evidence that crests were not used in combat but only in parades, except by centurions who probably wore them all the timeFact|date=February 2007.

External links


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  • Galea — may be: *galea aponeurotica, a fibrous tissue covering the cranium *galea (helmet), ancient Roman helmet *Galea (surname), a surname on Malta *Galea (genus), a genus of Caviidae *galea (boat), a boat whose shape was used in galley division* Lino… …   Wikipedia

  • galea — noun a) a Roman helmet b) an organ or a part of a plant that is shaped like a galea (helmet) See Also: galeiform, galeate, galeated …   Wiktionary

  • galea — n. [L. galea, helmet] 1. (ARTHROPODA: Chelicerata) A moveable process on the digit of the chelicera of pseudoscorpions, used to spin silken cocoons for protection during molting, hibernation, or the brooding of eggs. 2. (ARTHROPODA: Crustacea)… …   Dictionary of invertebrate zoology

  • Galea — Ga le*a, n. [L., a helmet.] 1. (Bot.) The upper lip or helmet shaped part of a labiate flower. [1913 Webster] 2. (Surg.) A kind of bandage for the head. [1913 Webster] 3. (Pathol.) Headache extending all over the head. [1913 Webster] 4. (Paleon.) …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • galea — [gā′lē ə] n. pl. galeae [gā′lēē΄] [ModL < L, a helmet: prob. < Gr galeē, a weasel, marten (hence, leather, hide, then article made of leather)] Biol. a helmet shaped part, esp. of a corolla or calyx …   English World dictionary

  • helmet — [hel′mət] n. [OFr, dim. of helme, helmet < Frank * helm: for IE base see HELM1] 1. a protective covering for the head; specif., a) the headpiece of ancient or medieval armor: see ARMOR b) the metal head covering worn in modern warfare c) the… …   English World dictionary

  • galea — 1. [NA] A structure shaped like a helmet. 2. SYN: epicranial aponeurosis. 3. A form of bandage covering the head. 4. SYN: caul (1). [L. a helmet] g. aponeurotica [TA] SYN: epicranial aponeurosis. * * * ga·lea gāl ē a, gal …   Medical dictionary

  • Galea — Recorded in several spellings including Galea, Gleacy, Galeati, and Galeandrolli, this very interesting medieval surname is of Italian and Mediterranean origins. It is known as a soliders name and as such is one of a fairly large group who have… …   Surnames reference

  • galea — /gay lee euh/, n., pl. galeae / lee ee /. 1. Bot. a part of the calyx or corolla having the form of a helmet, as the upper lip of the corolla of the monkshood. 2. Anat. any of several helmet shaped structures. [1700 10; < L: helmet] * * * …   Universalium

  • galea — n. 1) a helmet shaped part, especially the galea aponeurotica, a flat sheet of fibrous tissue (see aponeurosis) that caps the skull and links the two parts of the epicranius muscle. 2) a type of head bandage …   The new mediacal dictionary

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