A persistent problem with the study of Roman helmets has been, basically, too much attention to detail. Helmets that really are the same might be classed as different because of their appearance, even though this just really might have to do with stylistic reasons. Nevertheless, Roman helmets across the centuries continuously showed the army's concerns for headgear, although it would probably be a mistake to see it as a steady evolution.
The safety of the head was obviously of foremost importance, which was normally vulnerable to hacking attacks, such as from swords. Roman helmets during the Late Republic and Principate were reinforced with a brow guard and the latter also had crossbars at the top, which were specifically meant to protect from such attacks. The neckguard was also important, and over time it became longer and broader, and it also offered some protection for the shoulders.
Roman helmets also left the face and ears open to prevent vision or hearing from being obstructed, although their cheek pieces and ear guards offered sufficient protection still. This was because the Romans realized it was vital for a soldier to be able to see clearly and hear commands well. The only real break from this is the so-called Niederbieber type helmet, initially used by the cavalry and later in the Infantry in the 3rd century AD, however its wider use was relatively short lived.
There were two ways in which the Romans produced their helmets. The easiest way was to hold a piece of metal against a wooden or stone revolving former, while the more time-consuming one was to beat it into shape. The iron the Romans used couldn't be used with the former since it was liable to break under such conditions, so helmets made from that were hand-made, while formers were used for bronze helmets. However helmets made via this manner tended to not be as strong.
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