A ROMAN TINNED COPPER CAVALRY PARADE HELMET
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A ROMAN TINNED COPPER CAVALRY PARADE HELMET

CIRCA LATE 2ND-EARLY 3RD CENTURY A.D.

Details
A ROMAN TINNED COPPER CAVALRY PARADE HELMET
CIRCA LATE 2ND-EARLY 3RD CENTURY A.D.
Formed of hammered sheet, with arching crest terminating in a beaked griffin's head, its talons holding a Medusa mask in front, the griffin's body tapering to a dolphin-like tail, each side decorated in high relief with a capricorn with griffin-like head and coiled tail, the three creatures with rivets for ears (now missing), with continuous flanged rim to protect the wearer's brow and ears, the rim decorated with friezes of punched circles and dots, two rivets at the front of the brow-guard with remains of a hinge inside for a face-mask attachment
11 in. (28 cm.) high
Provenance
Axel Guttmann collection (1944-2001), Germany.
The Art of Warfare: the Axel Guttmann Collection, Part 1, Christie's, London, 6 November 2002, lot 89.
Private collection, UK.
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Lot Essay

PUBLISHED:
M. Junkelmann, Reiter wie Statuen aus Erz, Mainz, 1996, p. 96, no. O119.
H. Born and M. Junkelmann, Römische Kampf-und Turnierrüstungen: Sammlung Axel Guttmann, VI, Mainz, 1997, pp. 106-108, pls 79, 112-115 and I-III (AG 451).

Cf. H. Russell Robinson, The Armour of Imperial Rome, London, 1974, pp. 128-129, pls 376-377 for Cavalry Sports type G, see also pls 376-377 for a similar from Heddernheim. See also R. Rainbird Clarke, East Anglia, London, 1960, p. 127, pl. 34 for another found in the River Wensum at Worthing, Norfolk. It has been suggested that the latter helmet may have originated from a workshop on the Rhine or the Danube.

The cavalry parade helmet was worn by Roman auxiliary cavalry in equestrian exercises known as hippica gymnasia. Along with these elaborate helmets would be worn a special shield, embroidered tunic and possibly thigh-guards and greaves, all of which would contribute to the splendour of the display which intended to impress the spectators. These displays most probably accompanied religious festivals celebrated by the Roman army and were also put on for the benefit of visiting officials.

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