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A shield is a piece of
Shields vary greatly in size and shape, ranging from large panels that protect the user's whole body to small models (such as the buckler) that were intended for hand-to-hand-combat use. Shields also vary a great deal in thickness; whereas some shields were made of relatively deep, absorbent, wooden planking to protect soldiers from the impact of spears and crossbow bolts, others were thinner and lighter and designed mainly for deflecting blade strikes (like the roromaraugi or qauata). Finally, shields vary greatly in shape, ranging in roundness to angularity, proportional length and width, symmetry and edge pattern; different shapes provide more optimal protection for infantry or cavalry, enhance portability, provide secondary uses such as ship protection or as a weapon and so on.
In prehistory and during the era of the earliest civilisations, shields were made of wood, animal hide, woven reeds or
Depending on time and place, shields could be round, oval, square, rectangular, triangular, bilabial or scalloped. Sometimes they took on the form of kites or flatirons, or had rounded tops on a rectangular base with perhaps an eye-hole, to look through when used with combat. The shield was held by a central grip or by straps with some going over or around the user's arm and one or more being held by the hand.
Often shields were decorated with a painted pattern or an animal representation to show their army or clan. These designs developed into systematized
In the 20th and 21st century, shields have been used by military and police units that specialize in anti-terrorist actions, hostage rescue, riot control and siege-breaking.
The oldest form of shield was a protection device designed to block attacks by
Size and weight varied greatly.
Examples of Germanic wooden shields circa 350 BC – 500 AD survive from
The heavily armored
Typical in the early European
As body armour improved,
In time, some armoured foot knights gave up shields entirely in favour of mobility and two-handed weapons. Other knights and common soldiers adopted the buckler, giving rise to the term "swashbuckler". The buckler is a small round shield, typically between 8 and 16 inches (20–40 cm) in diameter. The buckler was one of very few types of shield that were usually made of metal. Small and light, the buckler was easily carried by being hung from a belt; it gave little protection from missiles and was reserved for hand-to-hand combat where it served both for protection and offence. The buckler's use began in the Middle Ages and continued well into the 16th century.
In Italy, the
During the 19th century, non-industrial cultures with little access to guns were still using war shields. Zulu warriors carried large lightweight shields called Ishlangu made from a single ox hide supported by a wooden spine. This was used in combination with a short spear (iklwa) and/or club. Other African shields include Glagwa from Cameroon or Nguba from Congo.
Law enforcement shields
Shields for protection from armed attack are still used by many
The second type of modern police shield is the bullet-resistant
- Light weight level IIIA shields that stop hand guns and submachine guns.
- Heavy Level III and IV shields that stop rifle rounds.
Tactical shields often have a firing port so that the officer holding the shield can fire a weapon while being protected by the shield, and they often have a bulletproof glass viewing port. They are typically employed by specialist police, such as SWAT teams in high risk entry and siege scenarios, such as hostage rescue and breaching gang compounds, as well as in antiterrorism operations.
Law enforcement shields often have a large signs stating "POLICE" (or the name of a force, such as "US MARSHALS") to indicate that the user is a law enforcement officer.
Image from Hatshepsut's expedition to Punt showing Egyptians soldiers with shields (wood/animal skin). 15th century BC. Temple of Hathor Deir el-Bahari
Drawing from the Codex Manesse showingknightson horseback carrying shields.
Australian Aboriginal shield, Royal Albert Memorial Museum.
Nias ceremonial shield.
Hippopotamus Hide Shield from Sudan. Currently housed atNew Wilmington, Pennsylvania.
Aboriginal bark shield collected in Botany Bay, New South Wales, during Captain Cook's first voyage in 1770 (British Museum)
- Ballistic shield
- Battersea Shield
- Captain America, who bears an iconic shield
- Escutcheon (heraldic shield)
- Firing port
- Heater shield
- Kite shield
- Nguni shield
- Riot shield
- Scutum (shield)
- Shield boss
- Shield wall
- Viking Age arms and armour
- Yetholm-type shields
- Drummond, James (1890). "Notes on Ancient Shields and Highland Targets". Archaeologia Scotica. 5.
- Schulze, André(Hrsg.): Mittelalterliche Kampfesweisen. Band 2: Kriegshammer, Schild und Kolben. – Mainz am Rhein. : Zabern, 2007. – ISBN 3-8053-3736-1
- Snodgrass, A.M. "Arms and Armour of the Greeks." Cornell University Press, 1967
- "The Hoplite." The Classical Review, 61. 2011.
- Hellwag, Ursula. "Shield(s)." Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, Siegbert Uhllig (ed.), vol. 4, 650–651. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.