Corinthian helmet found at excavations on the Taman Peninsula

A Corinthian helmet was found in a grave from the 5th century BC in the Taman Peninsula, south-west of Russia, reported the agency RIA Novosti. It is the only such helmet discovered north of the Black Sea.

Corinthian helmet found at excavations on the Taman Peninsula
Helmet of Corinthian type, found in the necropolis [Credit: Institute of archaeology of Russian Academy of Sciences]

Corroded after being buried for 2500 years, and thus highly fragmented, its discovery nevertheless remains spectacular. Made of bronze, Corinthian helmets covered the entire head and neck, with slits for the eyes and mouth, and protruding cheek covers (paragnathides). A large curved projection protected the nape of the neck. The interior was padded with fabric or leather to protect the warrior’s skull. Often their crest was surmounted by a crest (lophos) with a horsehair plume. Highly protective because they completely covered the head, these helmets represented an essential piece of equipment for the Greek hoplites, the famous foot soldiers of the phalanxes.

Corinthian helmets appeared in Greece around the 6th century BC and is one of the symbols of ancient Greece. The goddess Athena, or Pericles, are frequently depicted wearing them.

Corinthian helmet found at excavations on the Taman Peninsula
General view of the burial of the Greek warrior [Credit: Institute of archaeology of Russian Academy of Sciences]

When a warrior died, his helmets would be buried next to him. According to Roman Mimohod, director of the expedition of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IA RAS), “the helmet of the Taman peninsula belongs to the Corinthian Hermione-type and would date back to the first quarter of the fifth century BC.”

Archaeologists of the Russian Academy of Sciences have been working for two years in a necropolis of 600 burial mounds where many Greek warriors of the Bosporus kingdom are buried. Several Greek colonies were indeed present in this region. Their settlement extends from the end of the 7th century BC until the second quarter of the 4th century BC.

Corinthian helmet found at excavations on the Taman Peninsula
Amphora found in burial [Credit: Institute of archaeology of Russian Academy of Sciences]

“These settlements were in very close contact with the Scythian inhabitants of the steppe,” says historian Iraoslav Lebedynsky, specialist of these ancient Eurasian cultures. From the 6th century BC, the Greeks founded large cities on the northern coast of the Black Sea. The main ones were Olbia, at the mouth of the Dnieper; Panticapaion, today’s Kerch, in the extreme west of the Crimea, and Chersonese (Sevastopol); on the Russian bank, one found Phanagoria (Taman), also the name given to the peninsula on which the Corinthian helmet was discovered.

The Kingdom of the Bosporus

Created in 480 BC around the Kerch Strait and the Taman Peninsula, west of the Bosporus, this kingdom which had Panticapaion as its capital lasted almost a thousand years, the last written traces going back to the 5th century AD. A place of synthesis between the Greek culture and the successive nomadic cultures of the steppe, be it the Scythians or the Sarmatians. Between the 6th and 3rd centuries BC, Greeks and Scythians maintained extremely close cultural as well as commercial relations.

Source: Sciences et Avenir [May 17, 2018]

TANN

Archive

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.