Armor has been used by many virtually every culture across the world for warfare. Armor evolved over time from leather to metal in ancient times, in modern times body armor is typically made out of ceramics and other materials like kevlar. Body armor evolved out of the need to protect against weapons, and as weaponry evolved armor had to evolve over time as well. On the show most armor is tested in a for ancient warriors and is normally either plate armor, chain mail or, lamellar. Armor is such a huge factor in the fights that it is often one of the biggest reasons for either a warrior winning or losing their battle.
Types of Armor
Armor can be broken into three variations - helmets, body armor, and ,shields.
The helmet guards the most vital part of the body, the head. Most warriors who wear armor usually don't wear helmets as often as often as body armor. While the head is more vulnerable than the torso, it is a much smaller target against ranged weapons. Additionally helmets tend to obscure the warrior's vision and hearing, making in harder to keep an eye on the enemy and hear their movements. Different types of helmets offer both protection and varying amounts of vision. Helmets worn by warriors the Knight and Gladiator cover the whole head but make it very hard to see and impaired their hearing. Warriors like Vikings and Samurai wear helmets that cover the crown of the head and the back of the neck and offer a much bigger field of vision but leave their faces open . Arguably the best designed helmet of the ancient world was the Spartans Corinthian helmet. If offered complete head protection while allowing the warriors seeing and hearing in-impaired. This was due to the eye's openings extended to be open to the peripheral vision of the wearer and openings around the ears.
(History of Medieval European Armor: )
The most common area covered by armor is the torso. This was due to it being both the largest target on the human body and having most of the body's vital organs. Different cultures used different types of armor to protect their torso's. Most early cultures used leather shirts but many cultures started using metal when they could, However some, mainly some East Asian cultures and nomadic tribes, continued to use leather due to it's availability and mobility.
The earliest types of metal armor were normally lamellar, made out of scales of bronze. However in the Europe lamellar fell out of favor for bronze cuirass, which proved as an effective protective gear until widespread use of steel.
After steel became widely used, the most popular European armor were plate armor and chain mail, which preformed better in the field and held up better over long use. Plate armor was easier to make than chain mail but made movement harder. Chain mail is historically believed to be invented by the Celts and was used mostly in Europe.
Medieval Knights used both chain mail and plate armor. Chain mail with plate covering was widely used in Eastern Europe and later in the Middle East. In India, chain mail was worn over a layer of leather until better armor from Europe and Middle East was introduced. Some Asian cultures used lamellar armor made from steel. Steel lamellar armor offered good protection for comparatively low costs but were less durable compared to plate armor.
After the invention of gunpowder full plate armors fell out of favor in Europe and European armies started to use the lighter steel cuirasses. These armors were comparatively lighter while effectively protected the warrior's torso but left the rest of the body unprotected.
The shield was largely used worldwide to defend during melee combat and to add protection against missile weapons. Almost every successful army used it until the end of the medieval age.
Ancient shields were usually large so it could cover the entire warrior. Warriors like the Celts and Spartans considered weapons like the bow for cowards and used shields as a way of neutralizing them so they could close the distance between them and their enemies. Ancient infantry like the Celts or Persians used wooden wicker shields, mainly to defend against projectiles.
Later people started using metal in shields and the finest example of ancient metal coated shields is the Spartan shield which was famous for their effectiveness. It was a large round shield that covered the entire warrior, consisting of several layers of wood covered in a layer of bronze with a layer of leather in between, to absorb shock. For similar purposes, the Romans used rectangular, semi-cylindrical metal shields known as the Scutum. Small shields with studded leather covering was favored by nomadic tribes like the Huns as these complemented their style of warfare.
With the development of armor, specially the development of chain mail and plate armor, the necessity of large shields started to decline and warriors started to adopt smaller, more mobile metal shields. Small and medium sized shields were popular among cavalry, the medieval European knights used the "kite" shield while cavalry from Middle East and Asia mainly used round shields. Infantry from Europe to Asia (except the Japanese islands and a few eastern countries) widely used medium or small sized round shields known as the "buckler". Most Asian shields were small or medium sized round wooden or metal shields of this design. In Asia, round steel shields were most commonly used in India and by the Mongols. Shields were also used in some forms of Eastern martial arts, like the Chinese Shaolin Kung-Fu or Indian Kalaripayattu.
Shields could often be used as an offensive weapon as well. Vikings and Centurions had shields with a steel or iron boss in the center used for bashing their opponents. The medieval Scottish highlanders used the "targe" shield that had a pike attached to it for offensive purpose.
Even tribal and non industrialized civilizations were known for using shields. African tribes like the Zulu mainly used large shields made of ox hide. The Aztecs used small leather shields. The non industrialized cultures continued use of shields even after they were not used anymore in rest of the world. The native Americans mainly used leather shields, while they also developed the "bone shield" which is said to be able to stop bullets.
With the mass usage of gunpowder, shields ultimately fell out of favor in Europe as they turned out to be too heavy and bulky for the benefits they offered.
In the show armor is normally tested in pieces as opposed to whole sets, which can give inaccurate results. Armor can be the bigger game changer than any weapon. Armor can swing the results to the advantage to a warrior. Example of this are the Ming Warrior vs Musketeer and Persian Immortal vs Celt. In both cases the warrior who had the better body armor won by a large margin. Another big example of armor efficiency was the Joan of Arc vs. William the Conqueror matchup, where Joan's plate armor proved vastly superior to William's butted chain mail huebark and played a vital role in effectively making up for Joan's lack of experience, physicality and training.
Sometimes armor isn't always properly represented or warriors aren't given the armor they would of used. Chain mail is often said to be butted, when in history it was riveted. In the case of the Celt, he was given little to no armor. When historically they would wear a chain mail and leather combination or prior to the invention of mail armor (as with the the Celt fetured in the show), a Bronze cuirass if available, specially Celtic leaders were well known for having good quality armor.
In season three, armor metallurgy has been included as one of the X factors that are entered into the simulation.