LEG X FRET
Make Roma Great Again
ru | en

Gladiator helmets

Евсеенков А.С.

Attention! The text below was auto-translated from Russian. You can switch the site language to Russian to see the text in its original language or wait until it is fully translated.

Galea or Cassis - (Latin Galea / Cassis) - the ancient Roman name for a helmet. For antiquity, gladiator helmets were unique in their design. Only they protected the head completely, including the face. As a rule, they were richly decorated with coinage, had inserts for feathers. They were made of bronze alloys. Also, another feature was that depending on the type of gladiators, the type of helmet could also change a lot.

All helmets can be divided according to their design features. Some groups of helmets used several types of gladiators.

It should also be noted that there are helmets that exist only on pictorial sources.

Type I

It is assumed that Type I helmets were used mainly by provocateurs. In their design, they are the closest to the classic Imperial infantry helmets. The helmet dome is a single structure with a typical legionnaire helmet shape and back of the head. From them, he also inherited the "visor" from the upper strokes. The main differences are the cheek pads, in this case expanded to a full-fledged mask that protects the entire face, which are already characteristic of gladiators, as well as other types of hammered helmet decorations.

The best-preserved helmet exhibit is the provocateur helmet from Pompeii, found in the portico of theaters and kept in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. It is made of bronze, richly decorated with coinage. On the frontal part of the helmet is one of the supreme symbols of triumph, victory and glory-an eagle holding a wreath in its beak. On the upper part of the helmet up to the back of the head is a rich vegetation, it is assumed that it was also a symbol of victory, abundance and good luck. And on the very back of the head there is an image of the provocateur's own equipment - a helmet, scabbard, manica, shield with a digma (drawing). Interestingly, the helmet is also decorated, which is an example of the simplest recursion. On the front part there are also 2 complex chiseled images of human faces, presumably gods. The helmet has through holes for inserting feathers. In addition to the coinage, it has less noticeable decorations - engraving patterns located between the main drawings.

The provocateur's helmet. Bronze. Pompeii, portico of theaters. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, inv. no. 5658. Mid-1st century
The provocateur's helmet. Bronze. Pompeii, portico of theaters. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, inv. no. 5657. Mid-1st century
The provocateur's helmet. Bronze. Pompeii, portico of theaters. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, inv. no. 5657. Mid-1st century

Identifying a helmet and matching it to a specific type of gladiator is not a trivial task due to the wide variety of both the gladiators themselves in the pictorial sources and the helmets found. For example, the provocateur has bas-reliefs that fully correspond to the characteristics found (Pompeii), and clearly have a slightly different type (Turkey). Perhaps this indicates the local distinctive features of gladiators, which differ depending on the region. There are also pictorial sources with provocateurs with helmets without masks, which, with the exception of feathers at the temples, completely repeated infantry helmets.

A provocateur without a mask. Relief from the Tiber River, Rome, 1st century AD
A classic provocateur from Pompeii. National Museum of Naples. Mid-1st century AD
Bas-relief with a provocateur. Ephesus Museum, Turkey. 1st century AD

Gladiators such as equites and dimachers can also be considered suitable for this type of helmet . However, according to the distinctive elements from pictorial sources, it is possible to characterize the helmet as an intermediate version between the I-th and III-th types, which has a very small "visor" around the entire perimeter of the dome's circumference. However, these features of the image can also be attributed to artistic conventions, since no such helmets have been found.

Dimachery. Neues Museum. 1-2 century AD
Bas-relief with equitum. 1st century AD
Diemacher. 1-3 century AD

Type II

Type II helmets used secutors and scissors. These helmets also had a back plate at the back, but in some finds it was continued in the form of a fragment of the mask relief. Unlike Type I helmets, it had a small protrusion-a crest on the top, as well as a much smaller number of chased ornaments, as if observing the maximum practicality in its purpose. Another important difference from other types of gladiator helmets is the absence of nets on the eye sockets of the face protection. Eye protection was provided by significantly smaller viewing holes, which was probably the main disadvantage of such helmets.

Gladiator helmet type II. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5643. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type II. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5636. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type II. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5642. Mid-1st century AD

Due to the small number of structural elements, type II helmets are easily identified on bas-reliefs. They are clearly visible in secutors and scissors on various pictorial sources-frescoes, mosaics, bas-reliefs and statuettes. It should also be noted that there are bas-reliefs where scissors have a different type of helmet, resembling a hybrid type I-III.

Bas-relief with secutor. Found in the Kibyra necropolis, Burdur Museum. 2-3 century AD
Bas-relief with scisser. 1-3 century AD
Terracotta statuette of a secutor. 1st century AD

Type III

Type III helmets were used by Murmillons, Hoplomachians and Thracians. Murmillons and Thracians were the most popular types of gladiators, making them the most popular targets. These were composite helmets with a large dome on which the crest was located. Sometimes it was decorated with feathers., They were also inserted on the sides of the helmet in the corresponding holes. Also mandatory structural element was a wide rim around the perimeter of the dome of various sizes and shapes, which gave the helmet a unique shape for the ancient era as a whole.

Consider one of the most interesting examples from the Pompeii collection, also found in the portico of theaters. This type III helmet has a protective protrusion around the perimeter, so we can say that this is in some sense the maximum lengthened in width of the back of the head. The front part rather had visual functions. Above the ledge, a coinage depicts the plot of the triumph - Victoria is depicted on the sides, followed by a captured barbarian and the traditional element for the triumph- "trophy". Unusual for gladiator helmets is the image of "Sign" in the center. The helmet has holes for inserting feathers. There is also a "cassette holder" for replaceable combs, which most likely were worn on the main exits. It is also interesting that in this helmet, the eye net could open regardless of the slaps.

Gladiator helmet type III. British Museum. Inv. 1946. 1-2 century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5673. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Herculaneum. Berlin Antiquarium. Inv. L87. Mid-1st century AD

The main distinguishing feature of the Thracian helmet, which distinguishes it into a separate subtype, was the griffin, located on the top of the ridge. Like the classic Murmillon, it could be decorated with feathers, coinage and engraving.

Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5649. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5650. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5650. Mid-1st century AD

Type III helmets are easily recognized in bas-reliefs, frescoes, figurines, and mosaics. There are just a huge number of them preserved, so a lot of information is known about this type of helmet.

Bas-relief with gladiators from Pompeii. Mid-1st century AD
Bronze figurine with hoplomakh. Neues Museum, Berlin. 2nd century AD
Bas-relief with a Thracian. Found in Ephesus. Ephesus Museum, Turkey. 1-3 century AD

Related topics

Gladiator, Roman Army helmets, Murmillon, Thracian, The provocateur, Hoplomakh, Secutor, Scissor, Dimacher, Equit

Literature

Gallery

Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5649. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5649. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5649. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5649. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5649. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5649. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5649. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5674. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5674. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5674. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5674. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5674. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5674. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5674. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5674. Mid-1st century AD
The provocateur's helmet. Bronze. Pompeii, portico of theaters. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, inv. no. 5658. Mid-1st century
The provocateur's helmet. Bronze. Pompeii, portico of theaters. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, inv. no. 5658. Mid-1st century
The provocateur's helmet. Bronze. Pompeii, portico of theaters. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, inv. no. 5658. Mid-1st century
The provocateur's helmet. Bronze. Pompeii, portico of theaters. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, inv. no. 5658. Mid-1st century
The provocateur's helmet. Bronze. Pompeii, portico of theaters. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, inv. no. 5658. Mid-1st century
The provocateur's helmet. Bronze. Pompeii, portico of theaters. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, inv. no. 5658. Mid-1st century
The provocateur's helmet. Bronze. Pompeii, portico of theaters. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, inv. no. 5658. Mid-1st century
The provocateur's helmet. Bronze. Pompeii, portico of theaters. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, inv. no. 5658. Mid-1st century
The provocateur's helmet. Bronze. Pompeii, portico of theaters. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, inv. no. 5658. Mid-1st century
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. Naples Museum, Inv. no. 5674. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. Naples Museum, Inv. no. 5674. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. Naples Museum, Inv. no. 5674. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. Naples Museum, Inv. no. 5674. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Orvieto (John Woodman Higgins Armory. Inv 1129). 1-2 century AD
Gladiator helmet type I. Hawkedon, Suffolk, British Museum. Inv. 1966. 1-2 century AD
Gladiator helmet of the first type from Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples. Inv, 5670. Mid-1st century AD
Bronze helmet of a Thracian. Pompeii. Mid-1st century AD
Bronze helmet of a Thracian. Pompeii. Mid-1st century AD
Bronze helmet of a Thracian. Pompeii. Mid-1st century AD
Gladiator helmet type III. Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 5638. Mid-1st century AD