Over the ages many different armor types were developed. Some civilizations developed many types of armor while some never invented much past the basics. Necessity is the mother of invention and it certainly applies to armor. As people competing for the same land developed better weapons, better armors were created to defend against them.
Leather armor is commonly thought of as the first step in long development of stronger armors. Very early in history people would have discovered the benefits of drying out animal skins they killed for food, and wearing them. At first people would have done little if anything to the skins but as time progressed they would learn how to strengthen the leather by soaking it in wax or using lacquer to harden it.
Cloth armor although notably weaker than leather armor, deserves a hat tip in the history of armor. Weaving cloth isn't a technology that early hunter/gatherers would have had. As agriculture was refined and people drifted toward the same areas, tensions mounted. Peasants, serfs, and slaves were often conscripted to fight their leader's wars. Most of the time they went to war with the clothes on their backs. Most of the time all they had the money to do was pad some of their clothing. Even padded though, cloth was a fairly poor armor.
Scale is one of the first metal armors to appear in ancient times. Scale was a fairly simple armor but it offers much better protection than previous leather armors. Scale armor involved attaching hundreds of small scale-size pieces of metal to a leather or cloth backing. Advanced smelting techniques were not required since the scales were quite often small.
The next notable type of armor is termed lamellar armor. Lamellar armor is a version of scale armor. Scale armor is usually only secured to the backing by a couple holes near the top of the scale. The scales in lamellar armor are attached to all of the adjacent scales making it stronger and allowing it to be made without a restrictive leather or cloth backing. Lamellar armor was popular among the Roman armies.
The next earliest armor advancement might come as a surprise to some people. The next armor type to be developed was plate armor. Plate armor is thought to be the pinnacle of armor creation but some examples of plate armor actually predate chain mail armor. Early plate armor was very heavy and was thought to only be worn by soldiers riding in chariots. Later plate armor, knight in shining armor type, is generally what people envision when they think about armor.
Chain mail armor is a very good armor made from thousands of metal rings, pressed or riveted together. Chain mail is by no means a new advancement, but neither is it close to the age of most scale and lamellar armors. Chain mail combines great maneuverability and excellent protection against blunt weapons and slashing weapons.
Brigandine armor wasn't as big an advancement as lamellar or chain mail but was a good filler technology for the period between chain mail and medieval plate armors. It was fairly cheap for soldiers to make and repair themselves. It involved a cloth or leather outer shell with concealed flat metal plates riveted to the inside.
Kevlar armor is a modern advancement in body armors. Kevlar is a very strong compound that is spun into thread and then used to make vests that stop bullets. Generally 20-40 layers of the fabric is used to make a single vest. A completed vest weighs about 10 lbs.
Ceramic armor is the final armor type I'll talk about here. Most ceramics nowadays are used in aircraft and tank armor mostly due to the rigidity. But there are ceramic inserts that are used in conjunction with a bulletproof vest to afford even greater protection. Ceramics is a modern field and is still being developed.
Illustrated by Cyrus "killacaravagio" Hunter
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