CORINTHIAN HELMET

 

CORINTHIAN HELMET

Greek, 6th century BC
Bronze
Height: 9 7/8 inches (25.3 cm)
Provenance: Ex. Hans Hagmann, Germany, 1960s-1970s; Ex. American collection, 1980s-2000
Condition: Cheek-guard and lower back and right side recomposed of fragments

 

Developed in the 6th century BC, the Corinthian helmet was one of the first helmet types to be constructed from a single sheet of bronze. Although other helmet types have come and gone, the Corinthian helmet has remained a singular symbol of Greek warfare. The very shape of the helmet, from the characteristic nose guard to the sweeping form of the neck and cheek guards embodies the grace and strength of a warrior in battle, and this striking piece is no exception.

 

The front of the helmet projects forward, with spaces cut in almond shapes on either side of the nose guard to allow the soldier to see the enemy in front of him; smooth pointed cheek guards protected his face in close combat. A flared projection at the back, characteristic of Corinthian helmets, would have provided similar protection to the otherwise vulnerable neck. A small, yet deliberate, notch on either side of the helmet likely made it more comfortable. Small holes lining the edges of the helmet spaced ½ inch apart run along the straight edges of the helmet; it is possible that these were used to stitch light padding to the inside of the helmet, thereby making it more comfortable for the hoplite to wear.

 

The inside is covered in a beautiful blue-green patina. The only hint of this patina on the outside of the helmet is a thin band around the helmet’s bottom border and at the edges of the nose and cheek guards. The rest of the helmet is a deep brown-red cuprite, speckled with verdigris.

 

 

References: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bronze helmet of the Corinthian type [Accession no. 1992.180.2]

 

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