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A Greek Bronze Helmet of Apulo-Corinthian Type, Southern Italy, ca 4th century BC - Sands of Time Ancient Art
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GB1602

A Greek Bronze Helmet of Apulo-Corinthian Type, Southern Italy, ca 4th century BC

Representing the later style of the characteristic Corinthian form, this is an example of personal armour worn by the Italic Greeks around the 4th century BC and an essential addition to any ancient weaponry collection.  It is skillfully constructed from hammered sheet bronze, the domed form features a broad top flange, with high-arching, M-shaped eyebrows in raised relief.  To the back of the helmet, the nape is flared both to allow the soldier to move freely and to protect him from the blows of the enemy but this helmet features a piercing at each end the of neck-guard to secure it by means of a chinstrap.  Across the crown are rivets and plates for the attachment of either a horsehair crest, or menacing metal animal horns. It is abundantly decorated with incised chevrons around the eyes and nose-guard, there is a border of zigzags to the rim and two large, confronting boars decorate the joined cheek pieces. 

However, unlike its Corinthian cousin, the small eye holes and nose-guard are purely decorative, for this helmet was designed to be worn, cap-like, on top of the head rather than covering the face.  Greek art has many depictions of Gods and Heroes wearing their Corinthian tilted up even when battle began, and this practice gave rise to the Apulo helmets.   Innovation and comfort aside, this transformed style further allowed the warriors of the Italic Peninsula to still liken themselves to the warriors and Gods depicted in art; celebrating their favored stories that even today, holds strong appeal  to our modern taste in sculpture.

Background:  The Apulo-Corinthian helmet type was used in the Greek colonies in Apulia, Southern Italy from around the 5th-4th century B.C. (at the time when its mainland Hellenic cousin, the Corinthian helmet, became extinct in Greece), and remained in use well into the 1st century AD.  Several characteristics demonstrate that this helmet was not meant to enclose the head: the eyeholes are too small and close together, and there are no openings for the mouth or for the ears.  It was worn in a manner not unlike a 20th century army helmet; on top of the head, cap-like, rather than over the face and was secured with a chin strap - the front portion serving as a visor (see p. 108 in A. Bottini, et al., Antike Helme).  This styling was intended to make the helmet look like a Corinthian that has been pulled up on the brow. 

Reference:  Antike Helme: Sammlung Lipperheide und andere Bestände des Antikenmuseums Berlin, Mainz/Rhine, 1988, pp. 96-99; pp. 412-415.

Hanson, Victor D. The Western Way of War. New York: Oxford UP, 1990. Print.

Schutz und Zier: Helme aus dem Antikenmuseum Berlin und Waffen anderer Sammlungen, Basel, 1989, p. 21; p. 59, no. 22.

Snodgrass, Anthony M. Arms and Armour of the Greeks. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1967. 

Dimensions:  Height: 7 1/2 inches (19 cm), Width:  11 inches (28 cm)

Condition:   Attractive mottled green-brown patina, professionally stabilized and losses restored, otherwise complete and in very good condition overall.  Custom mounted.

Provenance:  J.W. private collection, Krefeld, Germany, acquired from the German trade in 1982 (copy of original invoice will be provided to purchaser). 

 

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