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4th Century Roman helmet crest

Material    Iron

15.5cm long x 9.8cm wide( at cheek bone tip)

10.6cm top edge length

7.7cm width at the second hole

3.6cm tip of cheek bone curve to next tip

102.1 grams

Thickness: 1.5-2.2mm

Holes are 7-10mm from the edge and 2.7-4.5mm wide

Hole are spaced 16mm-33mm wide apart.

Roman Empire 3rd to 5th Century AD

The nearly complete left cheek piece for a multi-piece or Spangenhelm type helmet.  These helmets were used for a long period in ancient times, spanning the 2nd to late 7th Century.  There are depictions of them on Trajian's column and other Roman gravestones or carvings right through to the end of the Western empire.  Their use continued into the Byzantine empire and beyond.

 This particular style with the cut out cheek bone area is however more closely tied to the Roman period.  This type of cut out was commonly seen on Intercisia Ridge helmets as well as Berkasovo helmets all prevalent during the 4th and early 5th century.  Later helmets tended to have simple cheek pieces with no cut out and became known on the Baldenheim helmet types.

The Spangenhelm actually consisted of between 4- 6 bowl pieces that were then riveted togeth with strips of iron.  This was all attached to a base ring from which nose guards (on some of them) or cheek pieces were added. 

Different styles of Spangenhelm



This cheek piece is well preserved and only has some of the top portion missing where the hinge was riveted on.  This was either lost during ancient times during its removal or corroded more heavily now making it lost.

The piece still retains its remarkable curve, which would not only have served to make it fit more comfortably, but to also help strengthen it from impact and to deflect glancing blows. 

The holes were spaced quite evenly and are of a larger variety then the holes normally seen around the Berkasovo helmets.  The hole were clearly punched out as part of the material pushed out is still visible on the reverse.  This feature supports the fact that these helmets had a different type of stitching which needed a larger hole.  This stitching is shown here in a remarkably preserved Baldenheim helmet cheek piece.

This type of stitching was long known in the Roman period and there is evidence that it was used to stitch Scale armor edging as preserved examples exist from the 1st and 3rd Century.  The cheek piece would also likely have had some type of padding sewn to the back with some leather covering it.

This cheek piece has a nearly identical resemblance to a known example on a complete Roman Spangenhelm now at Leiden dating to the 3rd century.

Over all a rare find and an excellent example of a later period piece of armor. (1,2,3,4)

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(1) Reference to similar items:  I.P STEPHENSON; Romano-Byzantine Infantry Equipment, page 18 2006

(2) Reference to similar items: PRINS, Jelle; The Fortune of a Late Roman Officer, page 52-53, 1998.

(3) Reference to similar items: BISHOP, M.C & COULSTON, J.C.N; Roman Military Equipment "From the Punic wars to the Fall of Rome", page 210 2006.

(4) Reference to similar items: MIKS, Christian; Von Prunstuck zum Altmetall, Ein Depot Spatromischer Helmteile aus Koblenz, RGZM, 2008

**Note on background. Close up view of the wall of the Colosseum of Pula, Croatia. Picture taken 2014