CHALCIDIAN HELMET

 

CHALCIDIAN HELMET
Greek, ca. 4th century BC
Bronze
Height: 13 ½ inches (34 cm)
Provenance: Grossman family collection, Bavaria, Germany, formed during the 1960s; Private English collection, London 2004
Condition: Crack on right side neck guard, two small areas show signs of restoration on right side neck-guard; pins attaching cheek-guard to helmet are new; cheek pieces possibly new

 

This beautiful Chalcidian helmet is not only elegant, but is an excellent example of growth and change in the military technology of antiquity. Dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries BC, this helmet type is named for its prevalence in pottery thought to have been uncovered in or around the Greek city of Chalcis.

Following on the heels of the Corinthian helmet the Chalcidian marks an improvement that addresses the primary drawbacks of the Corinthian type. An open faced design allowed for a greater range of vision, and the modified shape to the sides of the helmet meant less impeded hearing; both important factors for a hoplite (foot soldier) on a battlefield. The nasal guard would have protected the bridge of the nose.

The distinctive cheek pieces are a primary feature of this helmet type. They would have been either attached using mobile hinges, as is the case with this piece, or incorporated into the dome of the helm; presumably according to the preferences of the smith. A small perforation at the bottom of each cheek piece allowed a thin piece of leather or cord to secure the helmet to the head.

An elegant line surrounds the eyes and dips down to the nasal guard. Beginning at the temples the dome of the helmet resembles a bell, coming outward and upward just the slightest and bound by a delineating curve.  This curve encircles the helmet, culminating in a sharp sweep directly above the brow. The resultant negative space created between the downward point of the nasal guard and the rising dome of the helmet comes together with visual harmony.