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Home > Auctions > 6th September 2022 > South Italic Greek Pilos Helmet with Gorgoneion

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LOT 0327

GBP (£) 20,000 - 30,000
EUR (€) 23,910 - 35,870
USD ($) 24,360 - 36,540

Opening Bid
£18,000 (EUR 21,521; USD 21,925) (‡+bp*)

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Bid History: 0

A bronze helmet of Pilos type, conical in shape, comprising a thick hammered bowl fitted with a broad rim offset by carinated lip, a pair of holes to the top for insertion of a separately-made crest or plume; a pair of holes to each side for the attachment of cheek-pieces; on the front a tondo appliqué representing a facing gorgoneion; mounted on a custom-made display stand. 9 1/8 in. (12 5/8 in. including stand) (921 grams, 23.2cm high (2.4 kg total, 32 cm high including stand)).

Ex Johannes Hager, Southwest Germany, acquired between 1927-1935.
Acquired by the current owner, Germany, 1983.
Anonymous sale, Christie’s New York, 8 June 2012, lot 88.
Accompanied by copies of the relevant Christie's catalogue pages.
Accompanied by an academic report by military specialist Dr. Raffaele D'Amato.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate no.11383-190177.

Hixenbaugh, R., Ancient Greek Helmets, a complete guide and catalogue, New York, 2019, H273, p.536.

Cf. Waurick, G., 'Der Pilos-Typ' in Antike Helme, RGZM Monographien 14, Mainz, 1988, pp.151-158, spec. no.48, p.437; Connolly, P., Greece and Rome at war, London, 1981, pp.66,70; Sekunda, N., The ancient Greeks, Armies of Classical Greece 5th and 4th centuries BC, London, 1986, pp.25-26, 30-31, 47-48, 56-57, pls.F,G,H; Christie's, The Axel Guttmann Collection of Ancient Arms and Armour, part 1, London, 2002, pp.92-93, 95 nos.75 and 78; Christie's, The Axel Guttmann Collection of Ancient Arms and Armour, part 2, London, 2004, p.102, no.108; Hixenbaugh, R., Ancient Greek Helmets, a complete guide and catalogue, New York, 2019, figs.H185ff.; many examples of similar helmets appeared in the Guttman collection (AG 164, AG 291/H 69, AG 408/H 348, AG 527/H 179, AG 571/H 191) often showing the same broad rim dividing ridge; the British Museum, museum number 1865,1214.16, for similar.

This type of helmet (called bell-helmet by Connolly, 1981, p.70), named pilos after the Greek felt cap (in the Laconian shape, but distinguished from the cap by the noticeable point and the shape of the rim), had a conical shape and was pointed or rounded at the top. Its introduction was linked with the lightening of the hoplite equipment, and very soon the open face pilos helmet replaced the closed Corinthian helmet. The helmet was widespread in the Greek and Mediterranean world since the last quarter of the 5th century B.C. (at least 430-420 B.C., see the Attic red-figure of the Dinos Painter, Christies, 2002, p.73), and was widely used by continental Greeks, South Italian Greeks and Italic people, Etruscans, and even Romans. The variants are many and Waurick’s distinction between Italic, Greek and undetermined origin is today a subject of review. The helmet here seems to be a variant from Magna Graecia, widespread among the Campanian and Samnite warriors, as visible for example on the Paestum frescoes and on various pottery items (Christies, 2004, p.105 no.111). The central Gorgoneion mask appliqué is visible on similar pilos helmets from the Guttmann collection (Christies, 2004, p.104, no.110; p.106, nos.113 and 114).