Short History of Body Armor
Protection for the Body has Changed Tremendously Over the Years
Photo by: palindrome6996
Since the first weapons were used, mankind has been trying to come up with ways to protect the body from harm. This started with furs and moved to cured leather and then eventually metals were used. Below is a quick look at the development of personal body armor over the centuries.
One of the very first types of armor created was made from leather. This protected well against the weapons of the time, but as weapons became more powerful (using iron instead of bronze, for example) leather armor became less and less useful for actually protecting.
Bronze & Copper & Iron
Many other materials were used to make armor over the years, starting with copper and bronze. It was easy to create armor that was lightweight with these metals and they offered good protection against the weapons available at the time. (Starting to notice a trend? The arms race has resulted in a defense race as well over the years.) Gradually, as more became known about metals, stronger and stronger materials were used to create the armor.
Helmet designs underwent a lot of changes during the Medieval period as people learned more about creating with metal, including what combinations and styles worked best to protect people from the main weapons available at the time. Over the years, helmets occasionally became lighter while offering even more protection.
More and More Protection
During the Medieval period, the primary armor of choice was chainmail. It offered good protection but was lightweight and not too hard to move around in. This gradually was replaced by Plate Mail, which is a combination of large, metal plates along with chainmail. As weapons were developed and honed to become even more deadly (especially bows and crossbows), full Platemail was developed.
Age of Firearms
When firearms began to become popular around the world, the usefulness of armor went away. For many years after this, body armor didn't see many changes. Eventually modern body armor was created - something lightweight but that could still stop a bullet if necessary. From flak jackets to bullet proof jackets and vests, modern armor has come a long way since the very first set was created.
What does the future hold? No is certain for sure, but many think that energy shields or even lighter material that protect more will be developed. Whether it's the personal armor made from light that was seen in the Dune series by Frank Herbert or something entirely different, there's definitely going to be more innovations as time marches forward. If you have any ideas on what's coming next, leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
Jarrod has an intense fascination with bullet proof vests and other types of protective armor. He's currently a History major in college in the Midwest and hopes to eventually graduate and work at a museum.
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