I have tried to analyse elsewhere the archaeological evidence for Greek armour and weapons, and their possible effects on tactics, in the critical period of the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. There, I was of necessity concerned with the monumental evidence, and did not look far beyond it. But there are historical implications which should be faced and also, I think, some further historical support for the conclusions there reached.
The conclusions were briefly these. The equipment of arms and armour, which modern writers tend to group together as the ‘hoplite panoply’, was originally a motley assemblage. Certain of its components—the long iron sword and spear—were part of the equipment of most warriors of the era, and of many periods before and since. Other items resemble those used by Mycenaean warriors some five centuries earlier: these include the bronze plate-corslet, the greave and (an optional accessory) the ankle-guard. I cannot believe, with some scholars, that such advanced and costly products of the bronze-smith had been produced continuously throughout the Dark Age that followed the fall of the Mycenaean civilisation; and indeed for at least 400 years there is no evidence of any kind that they were. Rather, they were revived or readopted: the corslet apparently under the influence of the metal-working cultures of Central Europe and Italy, the greave and ankle-guard spontaneously, although the Epic tradition had never forgotten their earlier use. Other items again, the closed helmet of the type that the Greeks called Corinthian, and the large round shield with arm-band and hand-grip, were Greek variants devised as an improvement on foreign models, principally the metal open-faced helmets and round single-grip shields used by the Assyrians, Urartians and other Eastern peoples. The combination of all these elements together was an original Greek notion; as was their later association with a novel form of massed infantry tactics, the phalanx.