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Protective headgears have been worn to protect soldiers and warriors during their battles in the past. And when you think of ancient helmets and armor, the first pieces that come to mind are the Greek helmets.
A plethora of such helmets were produced, and these came from different locations and periods.
In history, the Ancient Greeks were highly popular due to their armor. Only a few soldiers and warriors charged into the battlefield in full armor like the Ancient Greeks.
And while their panoply experienced changes throughout time, the Greek helmet remained ever-present. Over time, this helmet evolved and improved to meet the needs of warriors on the battlefield. It also underwent these changes to appeal to the people who wore them.
The Greek helmets of ancient antiquity ranged from extremely plain and minimalist to the most extravagant and elaborate. Yet, despite the differences in design and style, these Greek helmets served the same purpose. All of them efficiently provided great protection on the battlefield.
The helmet wasn’t only a piece of armor used in battle. Several Greek cultures showed the arrival of adulthood via the first use of the helmet.
When the Greek helmet wasn’t worn, it was often set in an area of honor in one’s home.
The boar’s tusk helmet is one form of the Greek helmet.
During the early Mycenaean period, spearmen likely utilized massed shoulder-to-shoulder forms. Their tough shields better complimented this form of defense as opposed to their heavy armor.
Although the shields they carried concealed most of their body parts, their heads were still exposed to various attacks. Due to this issue, the special boar tusk helmet came to be.
Providing a literal meaning to its name, this specific Greek helmet was reinforced with the tusk of boars. These were shaped and formed into smaller parts, then bored with holes. It was necessary to easily stitch the tusks on conical-shaped leather frameworks.
Great care and expertise were considered to alternate the curves of tusks on the simultaneous rows. As for the crown, it was styled with either a knob or plume.
Some of these ancient Greek helmets likely had cheek guards as well. And based on their preferences during that time, these would be extended downwards. This style for the cheek guards provided an efficient head defense for the user, which was necessary for battles.
Quite interestingly, Homer creates a good description of the boar mask helmet and its predominance during the Trojan War. He also notes that the Greeks were able to get these trunks due to their fondness for hunting.
Like every other Greek helmet, the boar’s tusk helmet was likely inspired by the advanced Bronze Age Minoans.
The Kegel is another type of Greek helmet that is also known as the “original” Ancient Greek helmet.
It’s an open-face piece that roughly sports a conical form, and it sometimes features extensions on the sides. These are necessary for protecting the wearer’s cheeks.
The Kegel was often crafted out of bronze, and at times in a few pieces.
Helmets existed during the Bronze Era. However, only a small number survived to create typologies with the exception of boar tusk helmets. With that,
the earliest Greek helmets that were represented in numerous archaeological notes was the Kegel.
These pieces emerged in the Geometric era at the end of the Dark Age of the Greeks. The origin of this Greek helmet is in the Peloponnese, near Argos.
Moreover, other samples of this type of Greek helmet were also acquired from Cyprus, Apulia, Rhodes, and Miletus.
As time passed, this type of Greek helmet fell out of use. It was sometime around the end of the 8th century BC.
The Kegel-type Greek helmets were crafted using a few bronze sections. These were cast separately, then bent and connected.
The whole process was challenging, which resulted in final products that were weak.
With that, these types of Greek helmets tend to fall apart along the seams when hit by the enemy’s weapon.
The Kegel helms have two unique style trends. The most common one is the pointed crown part, where a crest was fixed.
Another was the rounded dome with elaborately tall crest holders with zoomorphic themes.
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Corinthian helmets were the most renowned pieces during the Early Classical and Archaic periods. These were the protective gear of soldiers since the beginning of warfare.
When thinking about ancient medieval pieces, one of the first things that come to mind is those from ancient Greece. These were often custom-made for those who could afford such protective gear. Plus, these were usually lined with leather to keep things comfortable.
Aside from protecting the user, Greek helmets were also used to display the arrival of adulthood of a young male. He would fit his very first helmet to show that he’s come of age. It was also a centerpiece in the honorary spot at one’s home.
The Corinthian helmets’ name was based on Corinth, one of the biggest and most vital cities in Greece’s past. Back then, these were crafted out of bronze or brass, and its standard feature was the band across its forehead. It goes all the way down to the temple and towards the point below one’s jaw.
A guard was present, which reached from the center of the forehead to conceal one’s nose. The rear of the helmet went down to the collar level to safeguard the wearer’s neck and nape.
Warriors often used the helmets tipped back on the head. So, the very end of the rear featured a shape that was flipped in an upward-fashion.
The Cretan Greek helmets were in use during the 7th and 8th centuries and were often created from bronze. These helmets were more ornate compared to other Greek helmets. Plus, these didn’t feature nose guards or bent neck protectors like the Corinthian helmets.
These were usually paired with the Mitra, a bronze stomach protector that was worn like an apron. Some samples of the helmet were acquired in 1989 and were gifts from the Norbert Schimmel Trust.
Chalcidian helmets were mostly used in 500 B.C. and came from Chalcidia, ancient Greece. These were considered as the development of the more extravagant Corinthian helmet
Maintaining a couple of the stylized elements of its predecessor, the Chalcidian helmet also went through practical design enhancements. These let the wearer have optimal hearing and better vision.
When it comes to its exterior and physical features, this Greek helmet sports a pointier dome. There are cheek guards present, which were crafted separately and linked using pins. The guards were usually linked before the temple, leaving adequate space for the ears.
As for the nose guard, it was merely ornamental and appeared like a droplet of liquid.
In some instances, the improved ergonomics was accompanied by numerous decorative elements. These include extensions on top for enhanced visual flair.
In some cases, the visual flair was essential. It is among the reasons why this Greek helmet continued to be the preferred piece for the elites. Because of this reason, the Chalcidian makes for an ideal motif for ceremonies.
The Phrygian helmet is also referred to as the Thracian helmet and was commonly worn from 350 to 300 B.C. It was most prominent in ancient Phrygia in the western central portion of Anatolia, which has become part of Turkey.
Of all the Greek helmets acquired, the Phyrygian is the most stylish and interesting among the classic Greek helmets.
The different names for this type of Greek helmet are based on its shape. Specifically, from its forward inclined and high apex that appears like caps often used by the Thracian and Phrygian people.
Like other types of helmets, a lot of these Phrygian helmets were created using bronze. Its skull was often elevated from one bronze sheet, yet the forward-pointed apex, at times, was crafted separately. With this, the apex was fixed to the helmet’s skull.
Speaking of the skull, it was usually prominent at the front. It helped shade or cover the user’s eyes to provide protection to the higher portion of the face. This feature was convenient when enemies executed downward attacks.
The face of the user was protected further because of the huge cheek pieces. At times, these were extremely large, and they ended up meeting at the center. Hence, leaving spaces for the eyes and nose.
The Macedonian troops often used these types of Greek helmets during King Philip’s day. Yet for his son, Alexander, he prefers to utilize an open-faced Boeotian helm for his cavalrymen.
The Phrygian helmet was mostly worn to represent Alexander the Great’s infantry. It was mostly used at the end of the Classical Era and through the Hellenstic period. This eventually replaced the earlier version of the Corinthian type, which came from the 5th century.
The helmet became prominent during the end of the Classical period and the beginning of the Hellenistic era. It was when the Corinthian type of Greek helmet was replaced.
These Greek helmets are among the open-faced helmets that came from Peloponnese, ancient Greece. It was produced in the 8th and 7th centuries.
There are some accurate displays on Corinthian vases, exhibiting that the Illyrian helmets were produced before 600 BC. Yet this Greek helmet was misleadingly called Illyrian due to a ton of finds from Illyria.
These ancient Greek helmets were pieces that featured a huge opening for the wearer’s face. It also came with prominent and fixed cheek pieces.
The helmets featured a quadrangular opening for the user’s face but had no curvatures for one’s eyes and mouth. Plus, it lacked any form of a nose guard.
This Greek helmet had parallel-elevated lines forming channels that ran from the front to the helmet’s rear. This specific feature was made to accommodate a crest.
These types of Greek helmets are further categorized into three distinct forms. The first type of Illyrian helmets was crafted out of two separate pieces that were fixed together.
At some point, the Illyrian helmets were cast as a single piece, and it was when the second type emerged. This specific Greek helmet had a swooping neck guard, long cheek pieces, and a crest channel that was more pronounced.
The last form was more simple compared to its predecessors. These types of Illyrian Greek helmets didn’t come with riveted borders, and the neck was more abbreviated and angular.
Only a few examples of this specific Greek helmet have survived to this day. The attic helmet first appeared in the latter half of the 5th century. However, it didn’t reach the height of its prominence until the 4th century BC.
Compared to most Greek helmets, this piece was usually crafted out of iron than bronze. It means that only a few survived time because of corrosion or oxidation.
However, the utilization of iron to produce these suggest that the helmets were more common than other surviving samples. That’s because iron was more readily available compared to bronze.
The Greek helmets of the attic version feature a close-fitting form that is highly varied. Their unique features include one pediment over the eyebrow, plus an elongated visor.
It also comes with a crest link that runs from the rear of the helmet, then terminates in front. The hinged cheek pieces feature an anatomical form. The neck guard fits closely to the neck but with an adequate opening for the ears.
Some of the few surviving pieces of this Greek helmet were intricately decorated, displaying increased craftsmanship levels.
The Boeotian Helmet is known as the ancient helmet of Greek cavalrymen. It appeared during the 4th century BC. It’s the smallest distinct group among the ancient Greek helmets that have survived until the modern age. Also, it is the only headgear of ancient Greece that is still known by its ancient name.
Like the Attic helmet, there are several surviving Boeotian helmets made from iron. Others have been lost due to corrosion. Also, it was mentioned in numerous ancient sources like the Corinthian helmet.
Xenophon, a Greek historian and general, recommended the Boeotian helmet for cavalrymen to use.
Unlike other Greek helmets, the Boeotian helmet is more open. This design provided a wide and clear field of view, putting cavalrymen at an advantage.
This headgear resembles the Phrygian helmet but with a visor, and the Attic helmet but with hinged cheek pieces. According to several interpretations, this helmet appears like a folded down horseman’s hat.
Its large upper dome is large and rounded. Also, it features a huge swooping visor extending out in front and its rear. Some Boeotian helmets come with a raised pediment above the brow like that of the Attic helmet. Others have a pointed top, which can be found in a Pilos helmet.
These types of Boeotian helmets are more shortened, but hinged cheek pieces compensate for this.
Another evolution of the Pilos helmet is the Konos. It’s probably the last type of Greek helmet created during the Classical Period. Just like the Pilos helmet, it displayed a slightly pointed form.
In place of the visor, this type of Greek helmet features a brim that protruded from the base. It was to fit perfectly along the head together with the detachable ear guards that reached until the jaws.
To put it simply, the Konos helmet was a cross between the Boeotian and Pilos types.
The only difference is that this Greek helmet comes with the addition of ear guards. This feature was adopted mainly by the Hellenistic troops after Alexander’s death.
Engraved on this Greek helmet are designs from the Ionic order. These are found across the front section of the helmet. Fixed along the helmet’s ridges is a Greek crest, and its presence is a way to display the tribe’s recognition.
Pilos helmets are the cone-like Greek helmets that were the simplest types among all the ancient helmets from Greece. It’s likely that these pieces were produced and utilized at an earlier period, originating from the mid-6th century B.C. However, a lot of samples date to the 4th or 3rd century BC.
The popularity of the helmets during that period was a huge display of the progressing nature of warfare. The Hellenistic warriors were required to have enhanced vision and hearing, especially on the battlefield. These were features present on the Pilos helmets, hence, this type of Greek helmet became popular.
These ancient Greek helmets weren’t fancy, nor did they have too many embellishments. It featured its upright cone and a recessed band on the lower edge of the helmet. This aspect created a carinated top section for the piece.
Though as time passed, other features and enhancements were added to the Pilos helmets. But even with these improvements, the helmet retained its form.
The usual improvements that were made included mimicking the looks of a folded cap. It also had rolled-back visors, a backward-leaning peak, hinged cheek pieces, plus intricate chest attachments like horns or wings.
Aside from that, these pieces were easy to create, making it a favored piece throughout the Hellenistic environment.