face it, the most popular Greek helmet, today as well as
in ancient times, was the Corinthian. It was the
epitome of the armorer's art, and is considered the
hallmark of the hoplite. Many versions are
available, but as always, shop carefully! Don't
bother with steel ones, or black, or antiqued, or
green. (Or plastic or "cold cast"!) Brass is
widely accepted (though not universally!), but bronze
helmets can be found. (Note that this will usually
not be an actual ancient alloy of copper and tin, but
instead will contain silicon, phosphorus, or zinc.)
Other types of helmets included Chalcidian, Illyrian,
Thracian, and the humble pilos or bell helmet. In
fact, by the time of the Persian Wars, the Corinthian is
near the end of its popularity and is beginning to be
superseded by Thracian and Chalcidian styles. By
the Peloponnesian War it would have been uncommon, and
the pilos very popular. Hellenistic helmets
included the Boeotian (especially for cavalry),
Phrygian, and other variants of the Thracian.
Corinthian helmet, made by Joe Piela of Lonely Mountain
Forge. I got the bronze as scrap, and it is probably
"commercial bronze", actually a low-zinc brass. Nice
color and very easy to work! Joe did this in 3 pieces
brazed together, bowl, face, and back.
|Side view of helmet with very exciting crest. For more information on building a crest, see the Legio XX page on Roman Helmet Crests. Some early Greek crests were supported on projections above the crown, but most in the Classical period were mounted directly on the bowl. Some very early crest boxes made of bronze survive, but none from the Classical period, implying that wood was used. Those shown on vase paintings have painted decoration (but then, so do some helmets!).|
|Detail of my crest attachments. Not wanting to make any irreversable holes or the like, I soldered a pin to the back of the helmet and a tab to the top, and made a corresponding hole and slot in the wood block to match. Then I drilled a hole through the block and the tab for a lockpin. Just how crests were attached on the original helmets is difficult to tell. Many have holes, pegs, or little rings in various locations, but no crests have survived to show any corresponding features.|
|Thomas Daniels made this thick, luscious crest for his Deepeeka brass Corinthian helmet. The wood block is not yet painted.|
| An early
Corinthian helmet at the British Museum, dating about 550
BC, at a guess. As far as I know there is no
off-the-shelf version of a helmet like this, lacking the
later ridge or step around the crown, but Manning
Imperial has a GORGEOUS one, http://www.manningimperial.com/item.php?item_id=604&g_id=3&c_id=56
See Connolly's Greece and Rome at War for even earlier styles.
that I made out of a spun brass dome. I dished the top
out deeper and to a point, added the ridge, and flanged out
the bottom edge. Glued inside is a simple round
pad made of multiple layers of scrap wool, there's a hole in
the rim at each side for a chin tie. Finished weight
is about 2-1/4 pounds.
Archaic Corinthian helmet that I made from a spun brass
dome. There are only 3 or 4 such helmets that are made
in two pieces that I know of, all the rest being one
piece. Here is the original
that this one is based on. It dates to c. 650 BC, and
would not likely to have been seen by the Persian
Wars. Mine weighs 3-1/2 pounds, and is brass rather
than bronze, but it basically cost nothing! The edging
is red wool felt. I still need to add a lining.
trimmed the cheekpieces on a standard Deepeeka Corinthian
helmet with metal snips to make a Chalcidean helmet.
For variety's sake!
Gold mine for original helmets, all neatly arranged by type: http://www.thefakebusters.com/greek%20bronze%20helmets/ancient%20Greek%20hoplite%20bronze%20helmets%201.htm
Ancient Greek Armour, Shields and Helmets--Great links and
photos, but beware of the links to equipment vendors!
the usual vendors and craftsmen listed on the front page. Obviously,
Jeffrey Hildebrandt (Royal Oak), Matt Lukes, Craig
Stitch (Manning Imperial), Joe Piela (Lonely Mountain
Forge), and other experienced custom armorers will be
able to make you a much better helmet than anything
coming from India, and obviously a custom helmet will
cost more and take much longer to get.
--"Italo-Corinthian" helmet AH6058B, generally just called a Corinthian (correctly!) by vendors. It is decent even though it is brass; the cheekpieces are rather long. Skip the steel version and don't bother with the crest. NOTE: There are "spinoff" versions of this helmet made by other manufacturers, which I would avoid since they add more flaws. Some carry the ridge around the eyeholes straight across the top of the nasal, making them easy to spot.
--"Spartan Early Corinthian" AH6111, not as appealing to *me*, though other people find it acceptable.
--"Early Chalcidian" AH6065B, looks good.
--Boeotian helmet, AH6118, should not have the medial ridge; rather large but good for big heads. Good for Peloponnesian War and after, especially for cavalry.
--Alexander the Great helmet, AH6124. Can be a good Hellenistic helmet, but needs modification--move cheekpieces back, remove ear flaps, and trim droopy bits off just behind that.
--Corinthian A and B, both excellent, brass or bronze.
--Illyrian--Wonderful! Brass or bronze.
--Chalcedian--Um, not sure about this one, it *looks* like a modified Corinthian. Just hits me the wrong way! But for all I know it could be a direct copy of an original! (Daniyal does that!)
--Crests! A nice variety, made to fit their helmets, good prices! Don't know how durable they are.
--Corinthian HL101--Standard Deepeeka brass Corinthian
--"Thracian" HL123 (actually Phrygian) and Hellenistic HL137 are excellent Hellenistic helmets. Attic HL144 is really a Thracian style, and is good at least as early as mid-5th century.
Greeks, and Others
GREEK HELMETS IN THE HIGGINS ARMORY MUSEUM, Worcester, MA
The Higgins Museum, now closed, had 8 Corinthian helmets on display when I visited, seven in one case and one in its own. The seven were arranged roughly chronologically, and I have numbered them 1 through 7 from oldest to youngest. Most show damage (probably post-usage) or have holes or missing portions. I'll make comparisons to similar helmets in Greece and Rome at War, pp. 60-61. Unfortunately, I was unable to get any photos.
One crucial bit of
information is on one of the labels: "Most Corinthian helmets
weighed two to four pounds without crests." This
agrees with listed weights from the Guttmann Collection and other
helmets--it is clear that heavier guesses are incorrect.
#1 is the oldest, 650-600 BC, similar to Connolly
#9. The nasal is very straight and rectangular, and flairs
at the top where it is RIVETED on! It could be a repair, but
is very cleverly and subtly done.
#4 clearly has rather thick metal at the nasal and
cheekpieces. A couple others seem to, but might just
have thicker or turned-back edges.
#5 has a rather vague ridge where the bowl meets the
sides, and a bold set of eyebrows that actually cross the
ridge! (Sort of like Connolly's #11.) There was more
embossed decoration at the center front of the bowl, now mostly a
On #6 the ridge is also fairly vague, but in the
center front it dips down to a point instead of up (Connolly #14
#2 and #3 both seem to have one or two rivets at the front of the bowl, probably for crest attachments, but there are no surviving crest fittings or visible solder marks.
#7's bowl is "bullet" shaped, taller than the other
rounder ones. The cheekpieces are very close together,
probably due at least in part to post-loss squashing. The
gap is about a quarter inch at the bottom, and at the top the
right cheekpiece is actually bent out slightly where it has
collided with the nasal. The nasal itself is small and slim.
Helmet #8 is on its own in a different case, and dates to c. 550 BC. At the top of the bowl are 2 pairs of small holes about 2 inches apart; the holes in each pair are about a quarter inch apart (front to back) and c. 1/16" in diameter. Running through each pair of holes is a wire loop or ring--these must be crest attachments. At the center back of the neckguard, near the edge, is an irregular hole c. 3/8" in diameter which could just be damage, but could have been a rivet hole.
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