A bronze fragment from a Roman Cavalry Helmet. Clearly visible are the hair strands and swirls that would have made up part of the face like helmet. Much of the Bronze is covered in encrustations, but it still maintains its shape and features. Unfortunately nothing is known about any larger pieces of this helmet beyond the other item in my collection.
These helmets are believed to have been used for sporting events called the “Hippika Gymnasia” which was a sort of sporting event. This event utilized skill in weapons, spear throwing and numerous other warrior feats on horse. This was all done with specially decorated armor by the 3rd Century AD. This armor would never have been worn for combat, but used in these events alongside the standard chain mail/scale mail. (1)(3)
There are however more recent opinions that suggest that these helmets were also utilized in pitched battles much like the later Medieval Knights would have used full face helmets. These helmets would have looked fearsome and had a psychological effect on the enemy troops, although the masks would have been hard to see through due to the small eye holes. The more open and common Cavalry helmets would have been used for patrols. (2)
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(1) References to similar items: FEUGERE, Michel; Weapons of the Romans, page 149-151 2002
(2) References to similar items: I.P STEPHENSON & K.R DIXON; Roman Cavalry Equipment, page 22-24 2003
(3) References to similar items: CONNOLLY, Peter; The Cavalryman, page 22 & 29 2000.
**Note on background. A Fresco from the ancient Roman City of Pompeii. The interior walls of a wealthy Roman's Estate 79AD. Picture taken July 2005.