Traditions of the Greek Olympics, £8.99
Height: 10.000 inches
Diameter: 7.500 inches
Bequeathed by R. Payne Knight
GR 1824.4-7.32 (Bronze 251)
Room 69: Greek and Roman life
Greek, around 460 BC
Probably from Corinth, south-central Greece
Dedicated as a spoil of war
The city-states of Greece were often either united against a common enemy or at war with each other. By the fifth century BC, a key element in warfare were the groups of hoplites, heavily-armed soldiers, whose name derived from the hopla or round shield. Each city-state was defended by its own citizens, and the hoplites were usually the richer men, as equipment was expensive.
There are regional variations in the style of hoplite armour: this bronze helmet is of the rather elegant shape that is particularly associated with the city of Corinth. It was probably of the type that the Greeks themselves knew as 'Corinthian' (Herodotus IV, 180). Beaten out entirely from one piece of bronze, it required exceptional skill on the part of the bronzeworker.
The inscription records that the Argives (inhabitants of Argos) won the helmet in battle from the Corinthians and dedicated it to Zeus in his sanctuary at Olympia. The dedication of captured armour to the gods with thanks for victory was a common practice.
A.M. Snodgrass, Early Greek armour and weapons (Edinburgh University Press, 1964)
A.M. Snodgrass, Arms and armour of the Greeks (Thames & Hudosn, 1967)
P. Connolly, Greece and Rome at war (London, Macdonald, 1981)