Greek Bronze Helmet, Crete, c. late 7th century BC
Two large confronting horses in repoussé decorate the sides of this bronze helmet. On each cheek guard is an incised standing lion that faces toward the opening for the warrior’s mouth. Images of strength and calm, these creatures lent symbolic protection to the warrior in battle. The horse’s mane consists of S-shaped locks with additional locks tumbling over its forehead and brow. Tracing indicates individual details of anatomy.
This helmet is a modification of a Corinthian type, having a profiled cheekpiece and lacking the usual long nose guard; originally, there was a separately attached visor. Two symmetrical halves are joined in the center by a riveted seam, along which the crest was fastened. The artist conceived the helmet in such a way that the two pieces of bronze swell in the back to give the head space, and then taper at the base to protect the neck.
Under the belly of the horse on the left side of the helmet is the dedicatory inscription “Synenitos the son of Euklotas [took this],” suggesting that the armor was captured as booty and offered as a dedication. Armor made in Crete during this period was often decorated with elaborate repoussé work, which might explain why they were often dedicated at Greek sanctuaries.