|The most important weapon of defence among the peoples of antiquity. The Greeks had two principal forms of shield in use, with broad flat rims, and the curved surface of the shield rising above them: (1) the long shield of oval shape that covered the wearer from mouth to ankles, suspended by a belt passing [round the neck and] the left shoulder, with a handle for the left hand. A variation of this form is the Boeotian shield (figs. 3, 4), the two sides of which have in the middle a semicircular or oval indentation. (2) The round shield, covering the wearer from the chin to the knee, also called the Doric shield; this had one loop, through which the left arm was inserted, and one which was held by the left hand (figs. 5 and 6). The shield of the Macedonian phalanx was round, but small enough to be easily handled, and with only one loop for the arm. Both forms were in use from ancient times; at a later date the Argolic shield seems to have predominated, though the long shield that was planted on the ground in a pitched battle remained a peculiarity of Spartan warfare until the 3rd century B.C, In Homer [Il. vii 245, xviii 481, xx 274-281] shields are made of skins placed one over another, with one plate of metal above; in later times the material appears to have been generally bronze, but also wood, leather, and wickerwork. The pelta is of Thracian origin; it was the defensive weapon of the light-armed peltasts, made of leather without a rim, and with a level surface, of small size and weight, and of various forms (square, round, and crescent-shaped, as in fig. 8). Shields sometimes bore devices in painting or metal-work (figs. 1,2); besides those chosen by the fancy of the individual, devices indicating different nations came into general use after the Persian War. Many Grecian races, e.g. the Lacedemonians, displayed the first letters of their name. The Athenian token was an owl, the Theban a club or a sphinx. The shields most in use among the Romans were (1) the large oblong scutum, bent in the form of a segment of a cylinder, covering the whole of the wearer; this was constructed of boards, covered with leather, and bound at the top and bottom with iron; it was always carried by the legionaries. (2) The circular leathern parma, carried by the light infantry. (3) The cetra, borrowed from the Spaniards; it resembled the parma, and was carried by the light auxilliary cohorts. The different divisions of the force were distinquished by devices painted on their shields.